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In June 2023, Google will test blocking Chrome Manifest V2 extensions

As it encourages more developers to switch to Manifest V3, Google has provided additional information regarding the process of discontinuing support for the Google Chrome Manifest V2 extension.

According to an update from the Chrome team, they will go forward cautiously and experimentally to guarantee a positive end-user experience when Manifest V2 is phased out in June 2023.

During that period, Google will assist extension developers by providing advice and details on the new protocol and the best way for them to release versions that support it without causing problems for their customers.

Overview of Manifest V3

In 2019, Google unveiled Manifest V3, a new framework for Chrome extensions’ permissions and capabilities that would impose stricter guidelines to improve user data security and privacy.

Manifest V3 seeks to accomplish the following things, in brief:

Limit user network requests’ access to extensions.

End the practice of hosting code remotely by requiring developers to provide all functionality within the extension. Changes to network requests should be transferred from extensions to the browser.

To enhance browser performance, swap background pages for devoted service personnel.

Although flexibility is advantageous, extension developers will eventually face technical difficulties as a result of the necessity to frequently alter how features are implemented in their products.

This is especially true for browser extensions that are more involved, such as ad-blockers, which are currently having trouble finding ways to provide their consumers with the same degree of functionality as Manifest V3.

Timing for implementation

In November 2019, Google first began experimenting with Manifest V3 in the Chrome 80 Canary versions, and it was subsequently added to Chrome 88’s production builds. The Chrome Web Store stopped taking new extensions made with Manifest V2 in January 2022.

All extensions created using Manifest V2 would cease to function on the Chrome browser starting in January 2023, according to the initial roll-out schedule published by Google a year ago.

The following milestones have been added to today’s release, which offers more specific information on the roll-out of Manifest V3 and phase-out of Manifest V2. When Chrome 112 is released in January 2023, Chrome may test disabling support for Manifest V2 extensions in the Canary, Dev, and Beta channels.

With the release of Chrome 115 in June 2023, Chrome may test disabling support for Manifest V2 extensions across all channels, including the Stable channel.

The deadline for ending support for Manifest V2 has been delayed by five months as a result of this update, moving from January to June 2023.

Enterprise-wide Manifest V2 support will be available until January 2024, providing larger, more complex entities time to adapt.

The following achievements of the Chrome Web Store have also been described:

The use of Manifest V3 will be required starting in January 2023 to earn the Featured badge.
After June 2023, Manifest V2 products cannot be published to the Chrome Web Store with the visibility set to Public. The visibility of any Manifest V2 items that were Public at the time would be changed to Unlisted.

The Chrome Web Shop will take down all remaining Manifest V2 products from the store in January 2024 when the Manifest V2 enterprise policy has expired.

It is advised for developers to post to the chromium-extensions Google Group if they wish to participate in the debate on issues about the Manifest V3 migration.

The biggest challenges are ad blockers.

The hardest transition to Manifest V3 for Google Chrome ad blocker developers is because many of the APIs no longer support the functionalities that extensions need.

Raymond Hill, the developer of uBlock Origin, stated in December 2021 that the declarativeNetRequest (“DNR”) API “is an indication that the DNR API is a barrier to innovation in content blockers.”

The default filters currently include more than 420 filters that employ this feature, which is undoubtedly helpful for individuals who manage filter lists. A DNR-based blocker would eliminate these filters, “Hill continued.
Even when some of these limitations were removed, Manifest V3 ad blockers continue to have issues that limit the functionality of their products.

For instance, AdGuard revealed in August that their ad blocker was converted to Manifest V3, but they cautioned that it wasn’t without problems.

Ad flickering caused by a delay in the application of cosmetic standards is the only thing you might notice “AdGuard issued a warning in their statement.

Hill has started developing an uBO Lite plugin for uBlock Origin to overcome some of the problems encountered by AdGuard’s migration to Manifest V3. Hill acknowledges that some of these obstacles have been solved, but he also expresses concern about the limitations of the current expansion.

The limits of uBOL in comparison to uBO won’t be appreciated by many uBO users. There is no use in fussing about it because you do not have to use it and it is not intended for you “Hill wrote a lengthy explanation of Manifest V3 on GitHub.

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