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GDG Krakow – Chrome Extensions Workshop

A browser is not just a ‘website viewer’. Browsers can do so much more for you – if you know how to extend them.

Why hold a workshop?

One of the most popular web browsers today is Chrome, which was developed by Google. (As of this workshop, Google has released version 32). Very often, users of Chrome find certain functionalities to be lacking. To address this issue, extensions allow functionalities to be built on top of a browser, including Chrome. Nowadays, popular Chrome extensions include PocketAdBlock PlusEvernote Web Clipper.

It is clear that many extensions are being created on the web, where one can see them in use. It is my experience that Chrome extensions are popular with the variety of users.

When I write an extension, there has been a huge demand and subsequent use for the functionality. People use them.

I write them for myself. When I want to automate something, I create them so I don’t have to repeat the action. They are useful.

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Technically speaking, what are Chrome Extensions?

Per official documentation from Chrome: “Extensions are small software programs that can modify and enhance the functionality of the Chrome browser. You write them using web technologies such as HTML, JavaScript, and CSS.”

Background & workshop summary

I’ve been developing Chrome extensions since 2010 or so. Some of them have become pretty popular (and still are!). The following link leads to a list of extensions that I have created:  https://chrome.google.com/webstore/search-extensions/Konrad%20Dzwinel . I also help other people create their own extensions by answering questions on the StackOverflow website and provide feedback to the Chrome/Chromium team. This year, I decided to prepare a workshop for web developers that teaches them how to create Chrome extensions from scratch. After checking things out, I got the opportunity to run one on a local Google Developers Group.

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The event started with a short introduction to Chrome Extensions (What are they? What can be built using them?). I then established a working theme for the workshop: air pollution in Krakow. The workshop was divided into five steps. Each step had two parts: first I explained the technical details, then the participants developed their extensions.

With each step, extensions were extended with new features. At the end of the workshop, each participant had a fully functioning, configurable extension that provides information about the current air quality in Krakow.

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Throughout the event, co-instructor Pawel Bród and I assisted people with their individual questions and problems. Thanks to Making Waves, we had a lot of freebies that we gave away to the participants – they especially enjoyed the hand warmers and sweets :).

Photos: Wojciech Mardyła/meetup.com
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