Not much attention has been given to Google’s plan to eliminate Chrome plug-ins that rely on the Netscape Plug-in API (NPAPI); an announcement the company made back in September of last year. At the time, Google planned on having NPAPI extensions (including Microsoft’s Silverlight, Java, and the company’s own Earth and Talk products) completely phased-out by the end of this year.
But, last Monday, Justin Schuh (self-described as “plug-in retirement planner” on the Chromium blog) announced a reprieve for NPAPI-driven extensions.
Developers will now have until September of 2015 before Google Chrome completely disables support for these plug-ins. Beginning in April, NPAPI extensions will be disabled by default– though, the company did say that override options will be available at the user & enterprise level.
While this move by the world’s most-used browser will undoubtedly cause some extra work for plug-in developers, the move away from NPAPI will actually be good for users. Plug-ins themselves are a major cause of hangs & crashes in browsers, and don’t work on tablets or smartphones, giving people an inconsistent experience cross-platform.
Though NPAPI-based plug-ins will either need to be updated by their creators or become non-functional, not all Google Chrome extensions will meet the same fate. The company’s own Pepper Plugin API (PPAPI), which Adobe Flash utilizes, will remain supported in the future.
If you are a NPAPI plug-in developer, Google has prepared a depreciation guide for you here.