Apple, Google, Microsoft and Mozilla have decided to join together and have reached an agreement whereby it seeks to make the different browsers able to unify the extensions. They also invite other browser manufacturers and extension developers to join this initiative called WebExtensions Community Group (WECG).
Browser providers and anyone who wants to join the initiative commit to working together to advance a common browser extensions platform. How do you intend to achieve this goal?
On the one hand, they will have to agree on how to make it easier for developers to create extensions "specifying a consistent model and a common core of functions, APIs, and permissions”, They explain from WebExtensions Community Group. Another step will be to create an architecture that improves performance and is more secure and resistant to abuse or security exploits that may arise.
Therefore, the four companies and those who are going to join, it will be necessary to specify a permit model and a common core of APIs for web browser extensions (hereinafter WebExtensions). By specifying the APIs, functionalities and permissions of the WebExtensions, it is intended that the end user can have a simpler experience regardless of their browser (among those in the project).
The joint work will focus on creating Common Design Principles of HTML and W3C TAG to improve the compatibility, performance, security, privacy, portability and maintainability of the extensions in the different browsers.
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Privacy and security of these new extensions
In terms of security, the leaders of this initiative on Github specify that when a user chooses the extensions to use, they should not have to compromise between functionality and security. To do this, the permissions will be modified by searching reduce the damage that a compromised or malicious browser extension can cause.
Regarding privacy, WebExtensions Community Group (WECG) suggests that these extensions request access to very little user browsing data. "Only those necessary to allow the use of the extension", as they have explained.
On the other hand, in the future "it should be relatively straightforward for developers to port the extensions from one browser to another, and for browsers to support the extensions on a variety of devices and operating systems"They have not specified technical aspects that will make this possible.
Operators will continue to manage their extension stores
At the same time, the four browser manufacturers have explained that it is not "intended to specify all aspects of the web extensions platform or existing implementations." This means that the four firms participating in this project (and those who may join in the future) will not specify, standardize or coordinate the signing or delivery of extensions.
Each browser provider will follow operating your extension store completely independently, with its own technical, revision and editorial policies.