Apple, Google, Microsoft and Mozilla are working on universal browser extensions

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One of the difficulties in developing browser extensions is that developers have to create multiple variants at once to support multiple browsers. Firefox, Edge, Opera, and other web browsers have Chrome-based extension APIs, however each of them makes changes and doesn’t always implement the new Google APIs. Fortunately, Apple, Google, Microsoft, and Mozilla have decided to team up and form the WebExtensions community, with a primary goal of standardizing APIs and functionality across all browsers.

Community members strive to simplify extension development by creating a common functional core, APIs, and permissions. The standardization process will follow the same pattern as the development of web standards, but this does not mean that browsers will be prohibited from introducing exclusive features or APIs. Each browser developer will continue to manage their extension store with their own editorial policy.

For years, the term WebExtensions has been used for the Chrome Extensions API. Opera started using it when it switched to Chromium in 2013, Firefox in 2017, and Safari in 2020. However, the permissions and available APIs still vary significantly for each of these browsers. It is for this reason that the news of the standardization of extensions should delight developers. It is possible that this will not only motivate them more, but will also be able to prevent malicious extensions from appearing on the market.

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