Introducing OpenForge: an open-source cross-platform browser add-on framework

Trigger.io makes it simple for web developers to create native mobile apps for iOS and Android using JavaScript. But early on in our company’s history we also created a cross-platform browser add-on framework for Chrome, Firefox, Safari and Internet Explorer.

We are now open-sourcing that codebase, calling it OpenForge.

This codebase will be far from stale – development of the browser add-on framework will continue with a full-time maintainer who will also provide support. In open-sourcing the framework we have also provided the ability to build locally without reliance on Trigger.io infrastructure.

This will benefit customers that have already been building using our browser add-on tools, and make it possible for others to see, use and contribute to the codebase.

Codebase, docs and support

You can see the browser add-on platform code and tooling to build in this repo:
https://github.com/trigger-corp/browser-extensions

The README instructions give information on how to setup for local builds. The codebase is released under the BSD 3-part license which allows for unlimited commercial use. API docs are available here in Trigger.io’s legacy docs. In the future they may be hosted elsewhere but will be linked to from the README.

It is possible to get started using the framework for free, but as you get more serious you may want to get professional support to make sure your questions and issues are resolved, and any modifications you need are handled quickly. Antoine van Gelder at 7degrees is available to be contracted for this.

The history of OpenForge

OpenForge came out of the work that James Brady and I did with WebMynd where we built browser add-ons for search personalization that were downloaded more than 1.5M times.

We built a set of libraries for our own use to abstract away cross platform differences and realized that they could be useful to other developers. At the same time we saw the growth in Android and the problems that web developers faced in building for both that and iOS, and so Trigger.io was born.

The focus of Trigger.io has been on mobile platforms for a long time now, but at the start we also invested significantly in making our internal browser add-on libraries useful to others, and many of our team members contributed to that.

Initially our libraries were for Chrome, Firefox and Safari. Antoine van Gelder came on board and wrote the Internet Explorer SDK from scratch. At the same time in summer 2011 Connor Dunn and James Brady re-wrote much of the Chrome and Firefox code to tidy up and improve what we’d used ourselves to be ready for more public release. I then brought the Safari SDK up to speed.

Since then Tim Monks has improved the tooling, with Connor and especially Antoine continuing to update the SDKs.

What’s next?

With this announcement, Trigger.io’s browser add-on business is now completely separate from mobile. On the mobile side, with the Forge v2 platform release, we’ve been able to iterate native modules faster and faster.

You can expect more new modules, improvements to existing ones and our build tooling soon. As always we’re eager to hear from you either about OpenForge for browser add-ons or Forge for native iOS, Android and mobile web. Just contact support@trigger.io with your feedback or questions.