Top Google Chrome Extension Interview Questions for Developers

Google Chrome extensions allow developers to customize and enhance the Chrome browsing experience. As extensions grow in popularity, knowledge of building and implementing them has become a sought-after skillset.

In this article, we explore some of the most common Chrome extension interview questions that assess candidates’ understanding of these browser add-ons. Mastering these concepts is key to excelling in extension-related interviews.

Chrome Extension Basics

What are the core components of a Chrome extension?

A Chrome extension consists of a manifest file, UI elements like browser actions and page actions, content scripts, background scripts, and various resources like images, CSS, and JavaScript source files.

The manifest file (manifest.json) contains metadata about the extension. Background scripts run persistently in the background to handle events and API messaging. Content scripts interact with web pages to modify DOM or communicate with background scripts. UI elements like browser action popups provide user interaction capabilities.

How does message passing work in Chrome extensions?

Chrome extensions use a message passing system for communication between various components. The chrome.runtime.sendMessage and chrome.runtime.onMessage APIs facilitate this asynchronous communication.

A part of the extension can send a message using sendMessage. Other parts listen for messages using onMessage event handlers. This allows different components to exchange data and coordinate actions without blocking each other.

What permissions does a Chrome extension need to interact with web pages?

To interact with web pages, an extension needs permissions to access the tabs/activeTab or host URLs matching specified patterns. The tabs permission provides complete access while activeTab grants temporary access to the current tab only. Host permissions like http://* allow interacting with specific sites.

These permissions are defined in the manifest file and requested from users on installation. Content scripts can then inject code or manipulate DOM on permitted web pages.

Extension Development

How do you debug Chrome extensions?

Chrome provides several tools for debugging extensions:

  • Inspect background and event pages using the Extensions panel
  • Debug content scripts via the Sources panel
  • Log messages and errors to the Console
  • Inspect network requests in the Network panel
  • View manifest errors and warnings in the Manifest tab

How would you design an extension to block websites at certain times?

The manifest would declare webRequest and tabs permissions to intercept requests and modify tabs. A background script handles the blocking logic:

  • Use chrome.webRequest.onBeforeRequest to intercept requests
  • Check requested URL against blocked sites list
  • Check current time against blocking schedule
  • If criteria match, cancel the request by returning {cancel: true}
  • Save blocked sites and schedule in for options page

The extension also provides an options page to manage the blocking configuration.

What is the benefit of using over localStorage? provides persistent storage for extensions that syncs across devices. It’s asynchronous with bulk read/write operations.

localStorage is synchronous with no syncing capabilities. It can slow down extensions with frequent storage access. is thus preferred for non-trivial data storage needs.

How can you improve the performance of a Chrome extension?

  • Use event pages instead of persistent background pages
  • Leverage instead of localStorage
  • Limit content script injection using match patterns
  • Batch DOM changes using DocumentFragment
  • Cache network responses when possible
  • Use Web Workers for heavy computations
  • Avoid unnecessary API calls or file I/O

Testing and Deployment

How would you test a Chrome extension before publishing?

  • Manually test by loading as an unpacked extension
  • Write automated unit tests with frameworks like Jasmine
  • Debug using Console, Network, and other DevTools
  • Inspect Manifest for errors with JSONLint
  • Test on different devices, screens, and Chrome versions
  • Conduct performance testing under heavy load
  • Perform security audit for vulnerabilities

What details does the Chrome Web Store require for publishing?

The Chrome Web Store requires:

  • Title, description, images, videos for listing
  • Privacy policy if handling sensitive user data
  • Smaller icon for Web Store display
  • Contact email address for support
  • Developer account enrolled in Google Developer Program

How can you handle updating a published extension?

Use semver versioning to avoid breaking changes for existing users. Gradually roll out updates to catch issues before wide release.

When major updates are necessary, make backward-compatible or migrate users seamlessly. Provide notice of deprecated features and communicate timelines clearly.

Frequency of Entities:
chrome extension: 18
chrome: 12
extension: 11
manifest file: 3
background script: 3
content script: 3
web page: 3
message passing: 2
debug: 2
publish: 2
storage: 2
permission: 2
test: 2

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Google product manager mock interview (SUPERB answer)


What is the purpose of Chrome extension?

Extensions are small software programs that customize the browsing experience. They enable users to tailor Chrome functionality and behavior to individual needs or preferences. They are built on web technologies such as HTML, JavaScript, and CSS.

What are the rules for Google extensions?

Your extensions should include features, content, and UI that provide unique value to the Chrome Web Store. At a minimum, extensions should provide users with a basic degree of functionality and a respectful user experience. We may reject extensions unless they provide a unique, high-quality experience.

What skills do you need to build a Chrome extension?

As illustrated in this tutorial on how to make a Chrome extension, we can see that with basic knowledge of HTML, CSS and JavaScript, it’s easy to develop one. It’s a fun exercise too and can increase productivity by adding new functionality to a browser.

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