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Manifest v3 and WebData Control

9 Sep 2022
 

As a quick intro to this blog (to let you decide whether to continue reading or not), the focus here is around a change that is coming behind the scenes in the Chromium based browsers (Google Chrome and Microsoft Edge) which will also impact Mozilla Firefox. 

 

The Chromium Project is altering the WebExtension API by introducing a change which is commonly labelled “Manifest v3” (MV3) which will impact extensions for any browser based on Chromium and other browsers like Mozilla Firefox which leverage the WebExtension API framework. 

 

With regards Avanite, WebData Control’s Browser Redirector feature uses browser extensions to intercept URLs typed into the browser and the changes to the WebExtension API require the latest version of WebData Control to ensure this functionality keeps on working as expected. 

 

With that said, lets look at the upcoming changes in a bit more detail. 

 

The WebExtension API is a framework for the cross browser development of browser extensions which has been using a manifest v2 (MV2) implementation since 2012/13.  MV2 has been the industry standard for almost a decade but that is changing on a rather aggressive timeline. 

 

MV3 has some benefits over MV2 but the changes have proven controversial as some capabilities in MV2 are no longer available in MV3 and have proved to be pretty restrictive for many existing consumer focused browser extensions.  For example, the use of the webRequestBlocking API is no longer allowed under manifest v3 unless using a force installed extension.  

 

Remote code execution is also disallowed so all code executed by an extension must be contained in the extension and referenced as part of the manifest files.  This brings better security but also restricts extensions capabilities and ability to keep pace with an ever changing IT landscape. 

 

For anyone interested some more of the technical details around the MV3 implementation they are covered here; https://developer.chrome.com/docs/extensions/mv3/intro/mv3-migration/

 

 

Google Chrome 

 

Google have published the following timeline for the deprecation of MV2 extensions; 

 

Reference: https://developer.chrome.com/docs/extensions/mv3/mv2-sunset/

 

MV3 extensions are supported from Chrome 88 and above. 

 

 

Microsoft Edge 

 

Microsoft have also published similar guidance; 

 

Reference: https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/microsoft-edge/extensions-chromium/developer-guide/manifest-v3

 

All versions of Microsoft Edge support MV3 extensions. 

 

 

Mozilla Firefox 

 

Mozilla are yet to add full support for MV3 extensions however a beta implementation has been added in version 101.  At the time of writing there are no official timelines around the deprecation of MV2 extensions in Firefox. 

 

Reference: https://blog.mozilla.org/addons/2022/05/18/manifest-v3-in-firefox-recap-next-steps/

 

 

WebData Control 

 

At Avanite we are evolving the WebData Control product in-line with the browser changes that are occurring.  The following table shows the WebData Control browser extensions and manifest versions that are used. 

 

 

 

    WDC 4.7    

   WDC 4.8   

   WDC 4.9   

  Google Chrome 

MV2 

MV2 

MV3 

  Microsoft Edge 

MV2 

MV2 

MV3 

  Mozilla Firefox           

MV2 

MV2 

MV2 

 

 

With the WebData Control 4.9 release the Google Chrome and Microsoft Edge browser extensions were updated to use the MV3 format.  The Mozilla Firefox extensions still use the MV2 format due to lack of general MV3 support.  The intention is to update the Mozilla Firefox extensions in the forthcoming releases based on the availability of MV3 support. 

 

As of January 2023 the WebData Control MV2 extensions may stop working in the latest Google Chrome and Microsoft Edge browsers.  Details of how to extend the functionality of MV2 extensions in these browsers is not currently available but further guidance will be published as and when details are available. 

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