Download Chrome extension from other browser (for offline installation)

By Olivier Gérardin

This is a little trick I found nowhere on the web so I thought I’d share.

Suppose you need to install an extension for Chrome, but for some reason you can’t access internet from Chrome itself… Easy, you just need to get the CRX file that contains the extension bundle, right? The trouble is, you can’t easily get this file if you’re browsing the extension gallery with anything other than Chrome.


Here’s how I did it:

  1. Find the ID of the extension you’re interested in. When on the details page of the extension, it will be something like “bfbmjmiodbnnpllbbbfblcplfjjepjdn” after “” in the page URL
  2. Paste this URL into your browser: “” replacing ____ with the extension ID.
  3. You’ll be prompted to save a CRX file. Drag this file to a Chrome window and proceed with installation




GWT Designer now available for free!

By Olivier Gérardin

In case you missed it, Google announced last week that the tools from the rcently acquired company Instantiations were now available for free!

This is a great news because it includes GWT Designer, the famous (and only so far) graphical designer for GWT… It’s the perfect complement to the Google plugin for Eclipse.

Google Web Toolkit Blog: Google Relaunches Instantiations Developer Tools – Now Available for Free.



Google and Palm: the ideal scenario

By Olivier Gérardin

It was suggested by Phil kearny (ex Apple employee) that Google should buy Palm…

Let’s dream a little bit:

  1. Google buys Palm
  2. A GWT wrapper is developper for Mojo (Palm’s Javascript SDK). GWT becomes the official SDK for webOS
  3. dalvik is ported to webOS. All the apps from the Android marketplace are now available for webOS devices
  4. Android and webOS merge. Android 3.0 runs both dalvik apps and Mojo/JavaScript/GWT apps
  5. Google releases the most amazing smartphone ever, the Nexus Ultimate. The iPhone is now a thing of the past.
  6. Apple open sources the iPhone SDK, allows Flash on their mobile devices, opens up the AppStore for all apps, and goes back to what they do best: desktop and laptop computers, with a reliable UNIX-based OS.

PS: after I wrote this post, I found that some rumors were spreading about Palm moving to Android… I promise I’m not the one who wrote the fake “anonymously sourced, unconfirmed memo” ;)



Tim Bray now a Google employee

By Olivier Gérardin

For those of you not familiar with the Who’s Who of IT, Tim Bray is best known for the central role he played in the initial specification of XML. I should know because I spent countless hours studying it back in 2000. If you really really have to read it too, I urge you to read instead the annotated XML specification, with invaluable insight from said Tim Bray. Almost entertaining compared to the plain spec…

Anyway, Tim joined Google with focus on the Android platform. I’m glad to see that we share the same feeling about the iPhone and Apple’s AppStore policies:

The iPhone vision of the mobile Internet’s future omits controversy, sex, and freedom, but includes strict limits on who can know what and who can say what. It’s a sterile Disney-fied walled garden surrounded by sharp-toothed lawyers. The people who create the apps serve at the landlord’s pleasure and fear his anger.
I hate it.

While I don’t have much hope that this reality will ever bother the vast majority of iPhone users, I strongly hope that more and more developers move away from the iPhone because of the way Apple treats them.

I’m sure Tim will add to the reasons to move to Android…



This might be my next phone

By Olivier Gérardin

android_logoI’ve been pondering a replacement for my (still reliable but aging) Treo 680. Since I have decided not to get an iPhone as long as the App Store has such insane policies, I’ve narrowed my search down to:

The Pre has a groundbreaking OS called webOS which is almost entirely built on JavaScript and web technologies. It’s the phone that was designed for “always on” operation; it integrates seamlessly with online services such as mail and calendar from several providers (including Google of course). On the down side, it’s only available in a handful of countries in Europe, Luxembourg NOT being one of them. I called all three mobile network operators and none of them had even heard the name “Palm Pre”, so I don’t suppose I should wait for it to arrive here anytime soon. I could get a German one, but apparently you need to activate it on a German network, plus it comes with a QWERTZ keyboard.

Android phones are not that much easier to get, but they exist. There was an offer for an HTC Hero not long ago, but most reviewers found the hardware a bit lagging, so I decided to wait.

But now it seems that Google might be selling soon its own Android 2.1 device, unlocked GSM, with no carrier messing with the software… How great is that ? My own Christmas might be a little late this year :)



Google Chrome OS – the browser is the OS?

By Olivier Gérardin

google_chrome_logoLast week Google announced its upcoming OS, Chrome OS. More than the fact that Google is entering the OS market, which was expected, the most significant thing about this announcement is the OS name. Chrome is already the name of the web browser that Google launched 9 months ago.

Chrome is without a doubt the fastest browser in existence. It doesn’t really show in standard static HTML/CSS web pages, however bloated they may be, because I believe all browsers are close to the maximum speed that can be reached when displaying this kind of pages. Where Chrome crushes the competition is when running AJAX applications. The GWT application I’m working on is so much faster on Chrome than any other browser, that you easily forget it’s an AJAX app. Firefox is already much smoother than IE, but Chrome is way ahead in terms of executing JavaScript and giving the user instant feedback. There was a time we considered optimizing the server-side processing or the network usage because we thought that was where most time was lost. Good thing we didn’t, because after trying our application on Chrome, we now know that this would have been useless. The slow parts of or applications were only slow because of inefficient JavaScript execution on IE and (to a lesser extent) Firefox.

So, Chrome gives the best user experience for AJAX apps. But what about the overall computer user experience? Google figured that if you “live on the web”, the OS in you computer is probably getting in the way, because it’s designed to do too many things instead of just letting you get on the web. It’s slow to boot, it’s big, it has a lot of things you don’t need and will never use. So the idea of Google is to remove everything but the bare minimum: a kernel (Linux), a windowing system (no details on that, except it will be “new”) and of course a browser (Chrome). The name Chrome OS was then a logical choice, since the most visible part of this OS will be the Chrome browser.

I read a lot of articles saying that Google was now set to fight Microsoft on the OS field. Is this true? Yes and no. Yes, because it will probably take away a significant part of  Microsoft’s business, that is computers that are designed for online access. That includes netbooks, but not only: a large and growing part of computer users “live on the web” and don’t use their computers for anything else. No, because there will still be some use cases where Chrome OS will not be an option: gaming, video editing, development, all CPU-demanding activities. And we’re only talking about desktop users of course.

So we have a OS with a minimal Linux kernel, and adopting web technologies as the main application building bricks… does that remind you of anything? If not, have a look there