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Mar 24, 2012

Author: Hirvesh Posted At: 3/24/2012 Tags: , , , , , ,

BabelEXT - A Cross-Browser Extension Development Library/Boilerplate

BabelExt is a library (or perhaps more of a boilerplate) meant to simplify the development of cross-browser "userscript" style extensions for the following browsers: Chrome, Firefox, Opera and Safari.

It's likely that BabelExt will appeal most to either new extension developers, or to the existing pool of Greasemonkey script developers - which is how I got started with extension development.

The transition from Greasemonkey development to browser extension development wasn't too difficult - but there are a few nuances in each browser that are a bit of a pain to circumvent if you're in a "Greasemonkey mindset".

BabelExt is definitely more suited for developers wanting to create "content enhancement" extensions that enhance websites. It's not made for creating addons such as AdBlock Plus, etc.

BabelExt takes care of commonly used functionality that you might want to perform in content-script-like extension. Some of these things seem simple, but each browser has its own function calls and way of working, including, but not limited to:
  • Accessing and controlling tabs (i.e. opening a link in a new one and choosing if it's focused)
  • Cross domain http requests (extensions require)
  • Storing data (using HTML5 localStorage or similar/equivalent engines)
  • Triggering notifications (desktop or browser, depending on the browser's particular level of support)
  • Adding URLs to history (to mark links as visited)
  • Note: this is a bit of a hack in all non-Chrome browsers...
  • Adding CSS to the page

Requirements: None
License: Free

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