Hey Heather, it's me again.

Chrome extension: Small progress

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Hey Heather, it’s me again.

I finally went over the whole Getting Started tutorial and have the basic extension that changes the background color of a web page. Now I’ve started work on the extension I’ve been wanting to build for the last 2 years. The extension will add the number of minutes it’ll take to read an article posted on Hacker News next to the link.

I searched the Chrome Web store and found a few reading time estimators and tried them out. While they give the estimate reading time and provide customization, you won’t know the information until you’re on a page. This is the main problem I want to avoid. The idea to build this extension came about when I had a 10 minute metro commute. I would open an article, realize it would be too long to finish reading on the commute, and then try to find another one. I was annoyed at this so thought about adding this feature. Granted that now I’ve switched to reading a book on my commute, I still think it would be practical.

In contrast to the other extensions which use browser action, mine will be a page action extension. Since it’s specifically for Hacker News. I’m pretty certain I can make it portable to other sites, but I’m not sure how Chrome extensions work yet so we’ll see. I’m thinking it’ll be possible to use on pages with aggregated lists of links. Though the first version will only be made with Hacker News in mind.

Where do we go from here?

Well, it’s back to the Overview page, but this time I can fill in the details I know about my own extension. I started by adding the manifest.json file where I specify that we’re using the chrome.pageAction API. Reading the documentation I noticed that there are a few UI considerations that I need to be aware of. For instance, since page action extensions are only active on the pages specified, the icon can appear grayed out. Pretty sure I’ll need to provide that. I’m just going to use the icons provided in the tutorial for now. I can design my icons later on in the process. Next, I added some permissions which will probably change as I build the application. I like that there are required permissions and optional permissions. The optional permissions can be triggered by events, which is nice if you only need the access for a specific task.

So I haven’t moved forward as quickly as I would’ve liked to but this is all I have for now. I think the next step is to start working on the background script. I feel like saying a bunch of negative things in regards to the current status of this project but the important thing is that even though this is moving slowly, it’s moving.

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