This week, W3C announced that it was launching the WebExtensions Community Group (WECG) in collaboration with several of the largest tech corporations. Apple, Google, Microsoft, and Mozilla are banding together to achieve better standardization of web extensions. This means that extensions for Chrome, Safari, Edge and Firefox will one day be safer and easier to create! The specific goals of the community group are as follows:
- Make extension creation easier for developers by specifying a consistent model and common core functionality, APIs, and permissions
- Outline an architecture that enhances performance and is even more secure and resistant to abuse.
Using the existing extensions model and APIs supported by Chrome, Microsoft Edge, Firefox, and Safari as a foundation, we will start by working on a specification. We aim to identify common ground, bring implementations into closer alignment, and chart a course for future evolution.W3.org
W3 has explicitly stated that it is not looking to dictate exactly what developers can and can’t create with extensions. They will also not specify, standardize or coordinate around extension signing or delivery. They just want to encourage innovation while maintaining user privacy and security in a way that’s the same across the board, and honestly, I’ll all for this! To do this, the community group’s work will be guided by a common set of HTML and W3C tag design principles such as user-centered, compatibility, performance, security, privacy, portability, maintainability, and well-defined behavior.
We’ve seen that Google has put a ton of work into killing off bad actor extensions and protecting users against installing any malicious items with its seal of approval for developers who respect user privacy and data and with Chrome 91 implementations by using file scanning with Google Safe Browsing as well. I look forward to seeing what comes of the combined efforts of the top browser juggernauts within even a year of this group forming!