Chrome to get Firefox-style add-ons, custom scripts

— 6:00 AM on September 22, 2008

Google's Chrome shows serious promise as a web browser, but calling it stripped-down would be an understatement: the browser flaunts its beta status with a distinct sparseness of features. Although that aspect has actually contributed to Chrome's popularity among many users, Google also wants to seduce those who like their browsers big and meaty.

According to InformationWeek, Google's Ojan Vafai revealed at the New York Web 2.0 Expo that Chrome will eventually support third-party add-ons. Those plans mirror the approach of the Mozilla team, which strives to keep Firefox relatively simple while giving users (and developers) free reign to add more exotic functionality. Google apparently likes the concept, but Vafai said the Chrome team seeks to create a more reliable implementation. "We hope to do [add-ons] right," he mentioned. "As many people notice in Firefox add-ons, there are problems with instability."

Google also wants to build in something akin to Firefox's Greasemonkey add-on, which lets users tweak web content through custom scripts. With the right code, Greasemonkey can do anything from auto-filling forms to embedding Google Calendar into GMail. As it happens, Greasemonkey founder Aaron Broodman now works on the Chrome team, InformationWeek says.

Mozilla isn't turning a blind eye to Chrome's early success, either. At the same Web 2.0 Expo panel, Mozilla CTO Brendan Eich mentioned that the Firefox team may draw inspiration from Chrome's "one tab, one process" paradigm. "There are good process-isolation tricks that Chrome does that we're looking into, so we're simply going to look at better isolation techniques for security and integrity," Eich explained. Both Chrome and Firefox are open-source, and the former includes some code from the latter.

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