Introduction to Google Chrome Extensions

This is the first post in a short series of posts regarding the introduction to google chrome extensions. Browser extensions are neatly packaged software solutions of varying complexity meant to, as their name suggests, extend the functionalities in the browser in some direction in order to help make your browsing experience better or easier.

Usually, the less we have to do in order for some wanted action to be executed and finished the better. The perfect solution to any problem would be full automation with little to no required user input.

Most of our modern lives are in big part happening online. We use the internet for everything from work, research, education to our hobbies and entertainment.

We access most of that through the web browser which completes most of its tasks through executing JavaScript.

So if we know-how, we can automate almost any task the browser does through building software with access to the environment of the highest amount of browser control we can get which are browser or in this case Google Chrome, extensions.

How exactly do they work?

Extensions are packaged files of mostly code, images, configuration files, and any other web resource we might require. They are based upon web technologies like HTML, CSS and of course, JavaScript.

The web browser executes these software solutions in a sandboxed environment separated from the code that is running on all of your opened browser pages unless we specifically inject code into them ourselves.

Where and how are they stored?

Most of the extensions people use are downloaded and installed through the Chrome Web Store:

Google Chrome Web Store

The store has over 130,000+ extensions available and getting them up and running is as easy as just clicking the “Add to Chrome” button in the top right of the page of your wanted extension:

Adding Google Chrome Extension

Outside of the store, you can also load extensions from your local computer’s file system into the browser that you downloaded from another website or that you have created yourself:

Loading Google Chrome Extension

We will be going over how we can do this but first, we need to dissect the architecture of extensions so we can utilize it properly and understand its scope at Understanding Google Chrome Extension architecture.

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