The name “Netscape Plug-in API” (NPAPI) jingles like an artifact from another age of web browsers, but major browsers like Chrome and Mozilla still provision this architecture for building web browser plug-ins nowadays. But its time is rapidly approaching to an end. Mozilla is going to block NPAPI plugins by the end of this year and Google yesterday declared that Chrome will initiate blocking webpage-instantiated NPAPI plugins by default in January 2014. The Chrome team has already planned to entirely drop NPAPI support from its web browser by the end of 2014.
From today onwards, Google is not going to approve any new extension or application extensions that comprise NPAPI-based plug-ins in its Chrome Web Store.
Google has observed at unspecified Chrome practice statistics and approximations that just 6 of the all NPAPI plug-ins were used by more than 5 percent of users in the last month. To “escape interruption” (read: attempt to minimize the confusion) for users, Google for the time being will white-list the most prevalent NPAPI plugins:
- Silverlight (launched by 15 percent of Chrome users last month).
- Unity (9.1 percent).
- Google Earth (9.1 percent).
- Java (8.9 percent, but already blocked for security reasons).
- Google Talk (8.7 percent).
- Facebook Video (6.0 percent).
Users and company admins will be competent to white-list precise plug-ins but this is just for the short-term. Google wishes to totally take away NPAPI support from Chrome “before this year ends, but the exact timing will rest on practice and users opinion.”
As Google transcripts, audio and video supports to browsers were made possible with the help of NPAPI plug-ins. But Today’s web, the corporation debates, doesn’t want this 90s structural design- NPAPI. The search giant also says that NPAPI is not supported on mobile devices, and that is where the world is going.
Google says, “has become a leading cause of hangs, crashes, security incidents, and code complexity.” Moving forward, Google security engineer Justin Schuh writes in today’s announcement, the company’s “goal is to evolve the standards-based web platform to cover the use cases once served by NPAPI.”
Developers who presently have extensions or applications that make use of NPAPI can still update them till May 2014. After that, they will be detached from the Chrome Store and in September 2014, they will be put out. For those developers who desire to have a substitute to NPAPI, Google suggests using Legacy Browser Support, Native Messaging API and NaCl.