Building a simple Chrome extension with JS

March 29, 2023

What is it and why do we need it?

As web developers, we spend the majority of our time – if not our time – in the browser. In short, we build stuff that runs in the browser so while we are here, why don’t we just get the best experience out of it. A browser extension isn’t just a program that works in the browser but, it’s a program that enhances our browser’s capacities. From ad blocking to visualization, there is a browser extension for everything and in this tutorial, we are going to learn how to make one.

What we are building and prerequisites.

We are going to build an extension that will display a joke any time we click on it. This can be helpful for anyone feeling down when facing a bug. We will need a basic understanding of:

  • JavaScript
  • HTML
  • CSS (optional)
  • DOM
  • Fetch
  • A web browser ( Google Chrome )
  • A code editor ( VS Code )

The manifest file

This is the file that will be uploaded to our browser in order for our extension to work. The manifest file is a JSON file that contains metadata about our application such as the name, the version, the icons etc. This file can become really complex depending on what we want our extension to achieve.

Let’s build the extension

  1. Create a folder and give it a name. I will call mine “jokesextension”
  2. Open your folder in the code editor and create 3 files, index.js, index.html and manifest.json

File directory opened in VS Code

In the index.html, create a basic document and in our body, let’s have a div in which we will display the title of the extension as well as the joke itself. The index.js will look like this:
The index.html file content

In the index.js file, let’s use the fetch to access resources from the jokesapi and manipulate the DOM to display the joke in a paragraph tag. The index.js will look like this:
The index.js file content

In the manifest file, we have the following:

  • “Name” this will be the name of our extension
  • “Version” the version of the extension
  • “Description” a brief description of our application
  • “Manifest version” the API that will determine how the browser will interact with the extension
  • “Author” the creator of the extension
  • “Default_popup” refers to the html content that will be displayed when the user clicks on the extension
    The manifest file content
  1. Upload the folder to the Chrome browser
    Navigate to your extension tag in the browser

Navigate to the extension tag in Google Chrome

Make sure your developer mode is toggled on

Toggle on the developer mode

click on load unpacked and locate your project
Load unpack the folder

As soon as you see the load the project, you will see a toast with the message “extension added” and the extension is ready to be used.
The joke extension working in Google Chrome

Thanks for making it this far. I hope this will help getting started with building browser extensions.

Additional resources:

Jokes API:
Source code:

Source link

Comments 0

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *