This week, Google developers shared their plans to bring the infamous Manifest V3 to full functionality, which became available in the beta version of Chrome 88.
Let me remind you that for the first time talks about Manifest V3 started in 2018. Then the developers of Google announced that they intend to limit the work of the webRequest API, instead of which content blockers and other extensions will use declarativeNetRequest. Of course, these improvements have been reported to improve security and performance, as well as give users more control over what extensions do and which sites they interact with.
The problem was that extension developers quickly discovered that switching to a different API that was very different from webRequest and in many ways inferior to it, in essence, would be the “death” of their products. In particular, this concerned ad blockers, antiviruses, parental control solutions and various products that increase privacy.
The fact is that the webRequest API allows extensions not only to block advertising content on pages, but also to intercept network requests in order to be able to block, modify and redirect them. But, according to Google developers, this affected the page loading speed too much, so it was planned that in the future the webRequest API would only be allowed to read requests, but not interfere.
As a result, due to the pressure from the public, Google developers were forced to abandon some updates from the Manifest V3, and then revised their plans even more, cancelling a number of changes.
Since then, Manifest V3 changes have already started rolling out to Chrome, and the frustration has gradually subsided, although some ad blocker developers seem to have simply resigned themselves to the fact that their products will not be able to reliably block ads once the changes reach stable versions of Chrome.
As David Li, Product Manager for Chrome Extensions and the Chrome Web Store, now writes:
Lee says Google is phasing out Manifest V2, with two key dates already set in the process:
- January 17, 2022: New extensions with Manifest V2 support will no longer be accepted in the Chrome Web Store. Developers will still be able to update existing Manifest V2 extensions.
- January 2023: Chrome browser will stop using Manifest V2 extensions. Developers will no longer be able to update existing Manifest V2 extensions.
A more detailed timetable for the rejection of the second version of the manifesto can be seen here.
Until January 2023, Google developers promise to continue to refine the new manifest in order to take into account all the wishes and criticism of the extension developers, as well as introduce all the desired functions into it. In particular, Google says it has already added additional mechanisms to the new Scripting API and extended the Declarative Net Request API to support multiple static rulesets, session rules, and tab ID-based filtering.
Bleeping Computer reporters asked Lee if the past wishes of the developers, who explained that Google’s innovations would actually destroy their products, would be taken into account. Lee responded that “changes are in the design process,” and stressed that the company is considering feedback from developers and users.
Let me remind you that we talked about how Ukrainian fighters against pirates asked Google to block 127.0.0.1.