Adblock Plus, easily the most popular Firefox browser extension, recently hit the 100 million downloads milestone. Soon, the developer(s) behind the add-on will be releasing a beta extension for Google Chrome.
We should note that the most popular Chrome extension today is also an ad-blocker, made by Michael Gundlach, who’s trying to turn this into a full-time job (as well).
Over the years, many have asked ABP developer Wladimir Palant if there’d be a Google Chrome extension at some point. His usual reply went something like this:
No, Adblock Plus will not be “ported” to Chrome. I have better ideas for wasting tons of time. Anyway, why do you think that I could do better than the authors of existing ad blockers for Chrome?
Or in other words, about non-Gecko browsers in general:
Forget it, I am not writing Adblock Plus from scratch just to support your favorite browser (be it Chrome or Safari or Opera or Internet Explorer). And even if somebody gives me the code — I am not going to maintain two unrelated projects.
This asks for an independent project and in fact, there are already independent projects to implement ad blocking for all of these browsers.
So what changed the man’s mind?
Palant says he wants to change the Internet as a whole, by putting users back in control.
To that end, supporting only one browser limits ABP’s options too much. While he has considered partnering with other ad blocking projects, he says they tend to have goals that could not be aligned with his mission.
More importantly, recent Chrome versions allow extensions to block downloads, and porting a Chrome extension to Safari “seems relatively simple”.
Note that due to the way Chrome works today, the extension won’t function in the exact same way the Firefox add-on does, at least not in its early stages, but Palant hopes that there will soon be changes that will allow the team to make the extension more robust.
The ABP team will not be writing a Chrome extension from scratch. They’ve engaged in conversations with AdThwart developer Tom Joseph, who has agreed to hand over the project to ABP. That means they can go to work using an existing and relatively small codebase that already reuses several chunks of the Adblock Plus source code. Furthermore, Joseph has joined the team as a contributor.
Expect some development builds of the Chrome extension to hit the Web soon.