Several people have asked if we can resurrect the Perspectives extension for Chrome. Short version: yes, we would love to and plan to, but it will take some work. The long version is below.
In 2010 a Perspectives extension was created for the Chrome browser. The extension worked for several months but currently doesn’t display any notary results.
The problem was that Chrome did not provide a way for extensions to get certificate information about websites, which Perspectives requires in order to work. As a work-around the Chrome version of Perspectives used a separate Java applet to retrieve the certificate information from each page.
The upside of this approach was that we were able to port Perspectives to Chrome. One down side is that it required Java to run. Ideally we would like to make Perspectives run on Chrome without requiring Java.
Another downside of the Java approach is that the Perspectives project had to purchase an SSL certificate to sign the Java applet so that people could trust it. The certificate has since expired, which is why the extension no longer displays results. Additionally, since one of the goals of the Perspectives project is to move away from Certificate Authority security model, purchasing a CA certificate to run a version of Perspectives is counterintuitive.
The great news is that other people want the ability to inspect certificate info from Chrome extensions too, and the Chrome team has created a crytographic API. It should now be possible to make Perspectives run on Chrome, with a bit of work.
Here is the current plan:
- Refactor Perspectives’ internal code so it can more easily run on multiple platforms or browsers.
The Perspectives code needs a bit of reorganizing. This will also help us identify exactly what functionality we need from the Chrome API.
- Perform a security review, to make sure Perspectives is retrieving and using certificate information in the right ways.
If anything needs changing it’s better to fix it now than later.
- Confirm that the Chrome API supports the functionality that we need.
- Create a script to convert our existing Perspectives translations to the format required by Chrome.
- Write the Chrome-specific code to implement Perspectives
- Create a Chrome UI
- Test and release!
I will begin work on these tasks after the Perpectives 4.4 update. Questions and comments are welcome. Would you use Perspectives on Chrome? Leave a comment or let me know, so we know how many people are waiting for it.