NewTab Notes Extension

Published on March 31, 2020|2m read

Today I published a new Chrome Extension in the Chrome Web Store. This extension replaces the New Tab page with a rendered markdown page that you can edit. It’s customizable too!

I made it open-source as well.

screenshot

I’ve been trying to get in the habit of taking more notes and writing notes down before I forget about them. I also use the Chrome browser. The way I look for information in Chrome is by opening a new tab and start typing away for the question. What if the new tab had some information on it that I could stow away?

There’s plenty of existing extensions out there and I tried about 5 or 6 of them but they didn’t suite my taste or needs. If it didn’t sync between Chrome devices, then my notes would be scattered across machines — no go. Often times, the markdown syntax it provided was vanilla Markdown, but I’m used to newer features and extensions offered by GitHub Flavored Markdown, such as task lists, tables, and autolinking. If it didn’t support GFM — no go.

I’m working on a project using Elixir, Vue, and Tailwind CSS, and I wanted to practice using those frameworks so I can understand them more. It’s all about the repetition for learning.

Since I know nothing about Chrome Extension development, I found an existing extension that was pretty close to what I wanted. I forked it and started customizing it for my own wants. Fiddling around with the code made me understand more of what makes it Chrome-specific, which isn’t too much, and the rest was just plain-old-javascript. This led me down the path of using Vue and TailwindCSS, and packaging it with Webpack— just like I do with my Elixir project.

  • Chrome needs a manifest.json to specify the icon, description, and permissions it needs to operate within Chrome.
  • In the manifest, you specify the entry point HTML. In my case, I needed the new tab page.
  • There are some Chrome APIs you can use. The only one that I care about is chrome.storage.sync. This handles storing small data related to your extension and handles offline and online capabilities. If you’re offline, then it’s ok and will store the data in local storage until you’re online again, which then it will sync through the net and update your other devices.

Maybe one day I can make it more like vimwiki which offers multi-page linking, but for now it’s fine.