After a three-month delay, Google postponed its Chrome Extensions shakeup in December due to problems and incompleteness.

The Chocolate Factory promised March revisions. The Chrome Extension Team postponed clarifying when old ad blockers and comparable Chrome extensions would stop operating until later.

Eventually, Manifest V2 will be put to rest.

“We aim to continue examining feedback, making adjustments, and enhancing documentation to ensure the transition from Manifest V2 to Manifest V3 is easy and successful,” the Chrome Extension team wrote extension developers in a mailing list statement.

“Be tuned for the MV2 phase-out plan’s timetable. Before starting any browser trials to disable MV2 next year, we will give developers at least six months to migrate.”

“Apple will deploy their headgear as soon as Google converts to Chrome Extension Manifest V3,” Underpass App Company creator Jeff Johnson said.

Don’t hold your breath. January was planned to cease MV2 support. Google expected to gradually deactivate MV2 by June 2023 and remove it from the Chrome Web Store by January 2024. Who’s sure? “Reviewing” the schedule again.

Google’s November 2018 proposal to revamp the Chrome browser extension API for security, privacy, and speed was excessively ambitious. Manifest V2, the extension platform, was readily exploited by developers to construct resource-hogging extensions.

Old architecture wasn’t mobile-friendly either. Apple supports Safari Extensions for iOS, while Google doesn’t allow Chrome Extensions for Android.

Manifest V3 removes APIs like the blocking version of webRequest, which intercepts and alters web page content before display, and background pages, which handle code waiting for specified events.

Advocacy organizations and developers whose extensions relied on Manifest V2 APIs—particularly content filtering, privacy, and scripting extensions—protested, and their concerns have yet to be resolved.

Google persisted and convinced Apple, Microsoft, and Firefox to join, albeit partially. For extension developers who wish to target numerous browsers with minimum code modification, that’s a gain. For content filtering and privacy extensions, the judgment is yet out, but AdGuard says they’ll manage.

The steward of Chrome and the Chromium open source project has been making MV3 APIs more capable to appease critics: service worker lifetimes were extended, in-memory sessions storage was increased, and off-screen documents were implemented to replace functions that will disappear when background pages are no longer supported.

The Chromium issue tracker contains more over 2,600 extensions, according the Chrome Extension Team’s search query yardstick, including close to 200 for MV3. Google’s MV3 technology is fragile and unfinished.

There are enough holes in the platform to make it hard to walk without stumbling. “Show-stoppers” have gone unfixed for months.

These missing or malfunctioning features have deterred many extension developers from updating their code to run under the MV3 criteria, though some may recognize that Google’s continuous deadline delays mean there’s no rush. Chrome-stats reports 128,000 MV2 extensions and 34,000 MV3 extensions. 136,000 and 30,000 in December.

User scripts allow arbitrary JavaScript to be executed, according to Jeff Johnson of The Register.

“Many extensions, including mine, lack user scripts,” he remarked. “Google plans to support user scripts. User scripts may be the major reason Google continues delaying. They’re far apart.”

Google is also rethinking online adtech, which is more crucial to the company’s economic line than marginally monetized addons that prevent advertisements. Hence, the ad industry may be allocating fewer technical resources to MV3.

Google says developer nagging has slowed things down.

“We are continuing to listen to input from the community and make enhancements to ensure the transition from Manifest V2 to Manifest V3 is easy and successful,” a Google representative told The Register in an email, echoing the Chrome Extension Team release.

“We’re updating the community on our timeframe due to these enhancements. Developers like Manifest V3’s security, privacy, and speed.” ®

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