Getting started with apps for the Chrome Web Store


Hi, I’m Arne, from the Chrome Web Store
team. I’m here to talk about some of the reasons we started working on the concept
of web apps for Chrome, and the ways that you as a developer can get started writing
these apps. The idea for a web store grew out of an observation
that the way the web works has changed significantly in the past few years. New standards such
as HTML5 give developers more flexibility in the types of experiences the web can provide.
The pace of browser development has also sped up, so these new features are shipped to end
users a lot faster than they were in the past. Developers have used these new features to
write increasingly sophisticated sites. So, the idea of a web site as a place to consume
text-based content has become out of date. Developers are writing websites to act as
real-time email clients, listen to streaming music, and play multi-player games – functionality
that is traditionally associated with desktop apps. Many of Google’s own services push
the limits of what can be done on a web page. Tools like Gmail, Docs and Maps are quintessential
web “apps” that use the browser as an application platform instead of a content
renderer. We believe that the web has reached a point
where these kinds of apps are only going to become more ubiquitous.  We wanted to make
the experience of launching an app quick and direct, just like a desktop application.
So we’ve retooled Chrome’s New Tab page to display a list of your most commonly used
apps as a series of big beautiful icons, so that getting to the apps you love is as quick
as possible. A lot of the new HTML5 features like geolocation
and notifications help make apps very powerful but at the same time require explicit permission
from the user. A complex app may need lots of these features, which leads to a bad experience,
if the user has to click on a bunch of approval boxes before being able to use the app. To
address this, we made apps require an explicit “install” flow.  When a user decides
to install an app, they will be presented with the permissions that the app requires
in an easy to understand list.  When they approve the permissions, then the app will
be installed to and launched from the New Tab page.
Finally, while we think Google search is the best way to find sites on the web, we understand
that users use many more metrics when selecting apps to use. So we built the Chrome Web Store
as a dynamic gallery. Users filter apps by category, read reviews and ratings and even
get personalized recommendations of apps to try.
The Chrome Web Store is integrated with the Chrome browser, so it it easy to access directly
from the New Tab page. It also offers an integration with Google
Checkout, so if an app requires payment to use, the buying process is straightforward,
without the user needing to input a credit card for each purchase.
One important point to note is that while we added additional UI and functionality to
support apps in Chrome, we didn’t add any additional proprietary APIs or technologies
to learn. Web apps in the Chrome Web Store are built using the same standards-based tools
that you would use to create any other website. In fact, any website can be deployed as an
app simply by filling out a simple manifest file and uploading it to the Web Store.
Apps that require payment can take advantage of open technologies such as OpenID and OAuth
to interact with our license server, or they can use any other existing payment or user
infrastructure if they wish. The key difference, then, is more about how
a web app should be designed, than how it is built.  We expect web apps to deliver
a tight focus and a rich user experience.  In this sense a web app in the store should
be more like a mobile application designed for a larger screen, rather than a packaged
installable website.  And because apps can use all of the features supported by Google
Chrome, they can be fast, dynamic and powerful without having to worry about legacy compatibility.
Hopefully this video has gotten you excited to try creating a web app of your own and
posting it to the store. There’s an easy learning curve to get started, and if you
already use a developer channel version of Chrome and have a text editor, you have all
the software you need to get started. Just visit code.google.com/chrome/apps to read
tutorials and documentation on building apps. Happy coding!

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