Monday 21 December 2009

Add-On Support for Chrome

Google Chrome Plugins

Google Chrome has been my favourite browser for plain old web surfing since it came out but one of the few downsides to this fast loading and stable browser is the lack of support for add-ons. This is one of the reasons FireFox has claimed such a major stake in the browser market because there are literally hundreds if not thousands of add-ons available to extend the browsers functionality.

Now Chrome has finally caught up and if you are subscribing to Googles dev channel you will be pleased to know that there are already a hundred or so add-ons waiting to be installed on your favorite browser. I have already installed Flashblock and Adblock and they seem to be working well. There does exist a web developer toolbar but its functionality is so cut down and basic at the moment its probably not worth getting.

Now if you are like me and have been working around the lack of plugins for Chrome by using bookmarklets then you will be pleased with this news. However if you are still interested in using bookmarklets which will work cross browser then here is another good one. It allows you to download Flash videos from YouTube at a click of a button so that you can watch them later on.

All you need to do is right click on the bookmarks bar (which should always be made visible) and then click "Add". Then in the Name you should put "YouTube Flash Downloader" or something similar and then for the URL you should paste in the following code:

javascript:window.location.href = '' + yt.getConfig("SWF_ARGS")['video_id'] + "&sk=" + yt.getConfig("SWF_ARGS")['sk'] + '&t=' + yt.getConfig("SWF_ARGS")['t'];

This code has been updated to work with the recent changes in YouTubes API so don't worry as I know there is an old version of this bookmarklet floating around the web that doesn't work since November this year.

Now when you are on YouTube and a video starts playing you can just click on that bookmark link and the video should start downloading to your computer.

If you don't have a Flash player installed on your computer and want to play the FLV files in Windows Media Player then you can download an extension from the following location:

If you are interested in other cool bookmarklets then check out my previous article which contained one for viewing the generated source code of a page and one for dynamic DOM inspection.

Remember the cool thing about bookmarklets as apposed to add-ons is that they should work in all modern browsers as they are pure JavaScript. That even means IE 6!!

Also before everyone gets carried away installing lots of add-ons for Chrome just take a step back and remember why you're using Chrome in the first place. For me its because FireFox, which I use for all my web development, has so many add-ons installed that its become very slow to load and many of the add-ons can cause slow page loads e.g Firebug or errors. Therefore if you're like me and use many browsers keep the add-ons to a minimum and keep your web browsing fast.

I will shortly be writing an article about increasing speed and performance for all the major browsers but as a teaser I would give these pointers to quicker browsing.

  • Remove all add-ons that you never use anymore and disable those you rarely use.
  • Add-ons that will make your web surfing quicker such as FlashBlock, AdBlockPlus and NoScript are all good. Only enable those Flash movies and adverts if you really need to.
  • Turn off inbuilt RSS readers and use a special app if you require it.
  • Turn off all 3rd party cookies but keep Session cookies enabled.
  • Trawl through those preference settings and disable anything you do not use.
  • Disable link pre-fetching.
  • Regularly clear your cache, history and auto-complete data.
Those are some very simple tips for increasing speed. I will go into more detail about the user preferences, http.pipelining, max-connections and TCP/IP settings another day.

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