WebExtensions Community Group formed by Apple, Google, Microsoft and Mozilla

Martin Brinkmann
Jun 7, 2021

Apple, Google, Microsoft and Mozilla formed the WebExtensions Community Group to specify a model, permissions, and a common core of APIs for web browser extensions. The newly founded group is part of the World Wide Web Consortiums (W3C) and inviting "other browser makers, extension developers, and interested parties to join this effort".

The core goal of the group is to create future standards for WebExtensions to make it "easier for extension developers to enhance end user experience, while moving them towards APIs that improve performance and prevent abuse".

The group plans to use the existing extensions model and APIs of the browsers Chrome, Firefox, Safari and Edge as a foundation to work on a specification that brings current implementations "into closer alignment" and to "chart a course for future evolution".

webextensions community group

Browser makers are free to develop their unique additions to the common ground, e.g. by creating APIs that are unique to the browser.

The current WebExtensions system, that is used by browsers of the founding members of the group, has lots of resemblance with the goal of the group. All four browsers support WebExtensions, after Apple announced last year that its Safari browser would switch to the extensions system as well. Mozilla specifically has created Firefox-specific APIs that extensions for the browser may utilize. These extensions are not supported in other browsers then. The controversial Manifest V3 for extensions will also not be implemented fully by all browsers who support extensions.

As far as compatibility is concerned, the group strives to "maintain and improve compatibility with popular existing extensions and extension APIs" to ensure that developers can release their extensions for different browsers without having to rewrite them completely.

The scope of the work is revealed on the project's GitHub page:

  • An extensions model—the basic architecture of extensions and how the different pieces interrelate. This definition will include a description of the trust model, the differing trust between browsers and extensions and between extensions and web pages.
  • A permissions model—what sorts of powerful features extensions may access, and how extensions may request user consent to access them.
  • WebExtensions APIs—the interface extensions are built on.
  • A packaging format, including a manifest format and how extensions are localized.
  • Native Messaging—the API surface extensions use to exchange messages with native applications running on the host system.

The group won't define deployment mechanisms, including methods for signing extensions, and WebDriver integration.

Closing Words

From the sounds of it, it looks as if the group plans to use the current WebExtensions system as the fundament for creating a common grounds version of WebExtensions that all of the four major browsers will support in the future.

Now you: what is your take on the development?

WebExtensions Community Group formed by Apple, Google, Microsoft and Mozilla
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WebExtensions Community Group formed by Apple, Google, Microsoft and Mozilla
Apple, Google, Microsoft and Mozilla formed the WebExtensions Community Group to specify a model, permissions, and a common core of APIs for web browser extensions.
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  1. ilev said on August 4, 2012 at 7:53 pm

    Doesn’t Windows 8 know that www. or http:// are passe ?

    1. Martin Brinkmann said on August 4, 2012 at 7:57 pm

      Well it is a bit difficulty to distinguish between name.com domains and files for instance.

    2. Leonidas Burton said on September 4, 2023 at 4:51 am

      I know a service made by google that is similar to Google bookmarks.

  2. VioletMoon said on August 16, 2023 at 5:26 pm

    @Ashwin–Thankful you delighted my comment; who knows how many “gamers” would have disagreed!

  3. Karl said on August 17, 2023 at 10:36 pm


    The comments section under this very article (3 comments) is identical to the comments section found under the following article:

    Not sure what the issue is, but have seen this issue under some other articles recently but did not report it back then.

  4. Anonymous said on August 25, 2023 at 11:44 am

    Omg a badge!!!
    Some tangible reward lmao.

    It sucks that redditors are going to love the fuck out of it too.

  5. Scroogled said on August 25, 2023 at 10:57 pm

    With the cloud, there is no such thing as unlimited storage or privacy. Stop relying on these tech scums. Purchase your own hardware and develop your own solutions.

    1. lollmaoeven said on August 27, 2023 at 6:24 am

      This is a certified reddit cringe moment. Hilarious how the article’s author tries to dress it up like it’s anything more than a png for doing the reddit corporation’s moderation work for free (or for bribes from companies and political groups)

  6. El Duderino said on August 25, 2023 at 11:14 pm

    Almost al unlmited services have a real limit.

    And this comment is written on the dropbox article from August 25, 2023.

  7. John G. said on August 26, 2023 at 1:29 am

    First comment > @ilev said on August 4, 2012 at 7:53 pm

    For the God’s sake, fix the comments soon please! :[

  8. Kalmly said on August 26, 2023 at 4:42 pm

    Yes. Please. Fix the comments.

  9. Kim Schmidt said on September 3, 2023 at 3:42 pm

    With Google Chrome, it’s only been 1,500 for some time now.

    Anyone who wants to force me in such a way into buying something that I can get elsewhere for free will certainly never see a single dime from my side. I don’t even know how stupid their marketing department is to impose these limits on users instead of offering a valuable product to the paying faction. But they don’t. Even if you pay, you get something that is also available for free elsewhere.

    The algorithm has also become less and less savvy in terms of e.g. English/German translations. It used to be that the bot could sort of sense what you were trying to say and put it into different colloquialisms, which was even fun because it was like, “I know what you’re trying to say here, how about…” Now it’s in parts too stupid to translate the simplest sentences correctly, and the suggestions it makes are at times as moronic as those made by Google Translations.

    If this is a deep-learning AI that learns from users’ translations and the phrases they choose most often – which, by the way, is a valuable, moneys worthwhile contribution of every free user to this project: They invest their time and texts, thereby providing the necessary data for the AI to do the thing as nicely as they brag about it in the first place – alas, the more unprofessional users discovered the translator, the worse the language of this deep-learning bot has become, the greater the aggregate of linguistically illiterate users has become, and the worse the language of this deep-learning bot has become, as it now learns the drivel of every Tom, Dick and Harry out there, which is why I now get their Mickey Mouse language as suggestions: the inane language of people who can barely spell the alphabet, it seems.

    And as a thank you for our time and effort in helping them and their AI learn, they’ve lowered the limit from what was once 5,000 to now 1,500…? A big “fuck off” from here for that! Not a brass farthing from me for this attitude and behaviour, not in a hundred years.

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