A once familiar sight.
A once familiar sight.

Google are updating their Chrome Web Store policies in an effort to simplify extensions.

Google’s new policy is an attempt to rectify extension bloat that can lead to the same frustrating issues as the overflowing browser toolbars from days of yore.

The Chrome Web Store’s policy says “an extension should have a single purpose that is clear to users” and should not “require users to accept bundles of unrelated functionality”. That means the extension for your favourite bookmarking service shouldn’t be aggregating RSS feeds as well.

This also means some of your favourite multi-purpose extensions may need to tweak their functionality in the future. It’s not quite clear where Google might draw the line, especially for larger services like StumbleUpon that may indeed benefit from having all-in-one toolbars for their heavy users. Google recommends that developers split off “clearly separate” functionality into multiple extensions to let users decide which features they actually want.

“We’re making this policy change to…give users more control over their browsing experience.”

The net effect is that multi-purpose extensions should start slimming down and reducing their memory footprints as they shed unrelated functionality.

But it’s not all good news for developers. Google gives an example of an extension “that displays product ratings and reviews, but also injects ads into web pages” that should be split as well. That means a number of monetisation schemes will need to be reconsidered going forward. The company, naturally, has offered its own one-time payments system as an alternative source of revenue.

The policy is already in effect for new extensions being added to the Chrome Web Store. Google are giving developers a little more time for existing extensions, deferring enforcement of the new policy until June 2014.

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