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Yahoo's Delicious proves Chrome extensions real

Chrome's extensions framework has matured enough for Yahoo to release an alpha version of an add-on to use its social-bookmarking service.

Yahoo has released a test version of a Delicious social bookmarking extension for Chrome, one of the strongest indications so far that the technology foundation is coming to fruition in Google's browser.

Extensions still must be specifically enabled through a command-line switch on the developer version of Chrome, and Google recently broke extensions compatibility through an update, so the technology clearly is immature. But Google is steadily addressing the concern that its browser lacks one of Firefox's notable features--called add-ons in the Mozilla browser.

"Delicious extension (alpha version) for Google Chrome is now available," said Amit Papnai of the Delicious team in a mailing list posting Tuesday. "This is a light version of the extension and allows you to sign in and post bookmarks to your Delicious account."

The Delicious extension for Chrome shows the logo in the address bar. Clicking it pops up a dialog box as a new miniature Web page.
The Delicious extension for Chrome shows the logo in the address bar. Clicking it pops up a dialog box as a new miniature Web page. Screenshot by Stephen Shankland/CNET

Extensions can be powerful tools to customize a browser's interface or add significant features. In an effort to ease programming difficulties, Chrome's extensions technology uses the same interface techniques as Web pages, a method Mozilla as adopted for its Jetpack Firefox extensions project at Mozilla Labs.

Delicious lets people store, tag, describe, and share bookmarks, and the add-on simplifies use of the service directly through the browser.

In addition, Nick Baum released a Chrome-based Twitter extension called Chritter on Tuesday.

I found both the Delicious and Chritter extensions easy to download and install, though Chritter isn't terribly useful at this stage because it only flashes recent tweets in a status bar. Update 2:57 p.m. PDT: Google has added a rough but workable interface for managing Chrome extensions, including uninstalling them, by typing "chrome://extensions/" into the address bar.

Extensions compatibility can be tough to maintain, as the release of Firefox 3.5 Tuesday illustrated.

"We're working on pushing out a new Gears version that supports Firefox 3.5," Google programmer Aaron Boodman said Monday on a mailing list for Gears, a Firefox add-on that among other things can enable offline access to the Gmail Web application. "We typically wait until the official 'gold' release of Firefox is pushed, because otherwise, we keep having to do new builds every time a new release candidate is pushed."

One of Firefox's most popular add-ons is AdBlock Plus, which suppresses online advertisements. With Google's business dependent on advertising, skeptics have said they don't expect Chrome ever to support that technology.

However, in a December design document about Chrome extensions, Boodman highlighted AdBlock Plus as an example of an extensions use that Google would like to support. And discussion of ad blocking in Chrome has surfaced on the Chrome extensions mailing list.