Browser Extensions Are My Bugbear

A few users already requested me to add browser extensions to Ninja to have another option, not just the current bookmarklet buttons. I understand that a browser extension is a more elegant way of implementing a button than using a bookmarklet, and also if you use extensions then you can hide the browser bookmark bar which saves space on the screen. But somehow browser extensions have been my bugbear for a while. I mean, I have the feeling that it’s difficult to create browser extensions, there are too many browsers and they require a lot of maintenance when new versions of browsers come out. I thought bookmarklet was a safe and simple solution.

Then last week came the big moment. I decided to take a closer look on the extensions and check if it is possible to come up a with a simple solution, like using the current bookmarklet javascript codes in the “onclick” callback in the extension. Well, it took less then a half hour to make the Chrome extension for both buttons using the existing bookmarklet codes. It’s been a big wow! It seems that my fear from the browser extensions was absolutely groundless. But it’s not the end of the story, after this came the difficult part that I didn’t expect.

Submitting the extensions to the Chrome Web Store

I tell you the punchline in advance: it took much more time getting the browser extensions submitted to the Chrome Web Store than creating them… First I read the long instruction guide I found on the web store. I followed every steps, prepared the necessary images and wrote the texts. Then came the difficulties.

Problem #1: Other than the screen shots of your web application you can add YouTube video links, too. When I tried to add my YouTube video link (copy and paste) it said it was an invalid link. What? I tried it several times but it always failed.

Problem #2: The size of the screenshots have to exactly match the sizes specified in the guide. I may have misunderstood it, I thought those size recommendations were the minimal sizes. Not having the exact image sizes I couldn’t add my images and had to interrupt the submission process. I had to recreate all the screen shot images by re-cropping and resizing them to the exact sizes. I would expect that my images are automatically resized and cropped by the app.

Problem #3: I read that the submitted extensions would be listed in the web store immediately after the submission. After I submitted my first extension I tried to search for it, but it was not there. Even after 10 minutes it didn’t show up. Then I submitted my other extension, that got into the “publishing in progress” state. After 10 minutes I thought something had gone wrong so I removed it and resubmitted. It got into the “publishing in progress” state again. Tried another search, but it still didn’t find my extensions. Then I gave up. After an hour I gave it a try again and my extensions were in the search results.

Problem #4: When finally my extensions showed up in the web store I realized that enlarged, pixelated icons were displayed instead of the “tile images” I added during the submission. After 2 days the proper images finally appeared. Strange…

Don’t get me wrong. I’m really a Google fan. I use many Google tools and products, and I love them. But this time it was not an easy ride.

What about the other browsers?

browser-icons

In Opera you can install a “Chrome” extension that makes possible to install any extension from the Chrome Web Store. Cool! If it’s true then for Firefox I have to do only minor modifications in the extensions, then I can submit them to the Firefox web store. It seems that for IE, Edge and Safari it’s not that simple, so I will do the extensions for these browser some time later.

Any experiences, tips?

If you have any experiences with browser extensions or have any tips then please share with me. I would really appreciate it! 😉 Thanks!

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