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Top 3 Extension Development & Support Life Hacks

Keeping up with a constantly evolving world of technologies is just one of the daily challenges that developers are facing. Based on our 20+ years of experience we've handpicked some of the key extension development tips from various stages of the process. We've all been there, done that.

Here are 3 of the most common issues we find devs run into when building and carrying tech support for a web extension

Quick and painless 'entrails' update

Did you know that there is no need to update the whole extension code every time you need to edit some settings? This first lifehack will definitely save you a great amount of time and energy.

There are times (see cases below) when it is more favorable to store all settings and add-ons in a remote place (e.g. a server) while keeping the link to the data as a quick fix "button". In this way, you will be able to edit external config files on a server or change API responses without any extra hustle.

External config files/API should be used in case:

  • Content script injection and analysis of a website, e.g. Google search layout, Youtube, Facebook, etc.
  • Parse/integration logic with different websites and layouts
  • Processing user data without exposing it to the network
  • Patterns to resolve a conflict with other extensions

Killing the backend & wallet with a redundant request to backend and resource servers

Be very precise about the data you need to keep. In order to reduce the load on your database and increase its performance, you should promptly cache the server's response. You might want to consider the usage of GraphQL for this purpose.

Please note, that the backend should only return HTTPS response, however, a GZipped one is also possible.

Don't let your codebase become obsolete.
Keep it up to date. Keep it simple

Like any other software - a browser extension is a set of code lines and libraries. Needless to say that without timely maintenance of a codebase, it will be outdated within 2-4 years. Simply, because of rapidly evolving JAVAscript frameworks & libraries.

Talking about simplicity, it is essential to understand that every new line in your code is a new complexity. It can be very challenging to scale a product with knotty & poorly written code. Keep it simple, well structured, and remember, less is more.

Simple history example - jquery -> backbone -> react/vuejs -> next-gen frameworks

Consider using the following tools to keep your codebase clean and maintainable:

  • ESLint
    code analysis
  • Prettier
    code formatter
  • Npm-check-updates
    updating of package.json dependencies)
We hope you find this piece useful enough.

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