Chrome Killed UserScripts.org

Google Chrome team recently imposed a new and strange restriction: Users can’t install extensions, apps and userscripts from third-party sources. This simply means that developers must upload their items on Google’s Chrome Web Store. Although, Google provides inline installation option for the developers which allows users to install extensions and apps directly from the developers’ site and there is a workaround to install add-ons from third-party sources.

Chrome team explains the reason for this policy change, “To help keep you safe on the web, we have started analyzing every extension that is uploaded to the Web Store and take down those we recognize to be malicious. Unfortunately, we don’t have the ability to take down malicious items promoted on other websites […]”. This change has affected all third-party extension galleries (including those launched even before Google’s Web Store) and UserScripts.org. I am specially mentioning UserScripts.org because this site is the biggest repository of userscripts.

chrome-userscript-warning

Let me remind you here that userscripts are natively supported in Google Chrome without requiring third-party add-ons like Greasemonkey in Firefox.  This is really a handy feature for the users who love to customize their browsing experience by adding small JavaScript files. I’m very disappointed to find that users can’t install userscripts directly from the UserScripts.org – first they need to save the JS file locally and then drag the file onto the Extensions page (chrome://chrome/extensions/).

Firefox has no such restriction for third-party add-on sources and repositories, but a warning message appears before installation and user is required to manually allow the installation process. Opera team is planning to implement a similar restricting feature which will go live in the upcoming major release Opera 12.50 Marlin. The best thing about Opera’s approach is that users can whitelist trusted sources (like UserScripts.org) to simplify the installation process from the specified third-party sources.

We suggest Chrome team to follow Opera’s approach, or at least whitelist UserScripts.org globally. A better solution would be allowing developers to host their userscripts and userstyles on Web Store – which would make it easier to update and maintain them.