Charles Engelke's Blog

January 8, 2012

Chrome Web App Bookshelf – Part 7 of 7

Filed under: Uncategorized — Charles Engelke @ 1:36 pm

Note: this is part 7 (the final part) of the Bookshelf Project I’m working on. Part 1 was a Chrome app “Hello, World” equivalent, part 2 added basic functionality, part 3 finally called an Amazon web service, part 4 parsed the web service result, part 5 was useful enough to publish, and part 6 covered publishing it at my own website. This post finishes the series by publishing in the Chrome Web Store instead.

I’m almost done with getting my app out into the world now. I just have to put in the Chrome Web Store. Once that’s done I intend to update it with new features from time to time, but probably won’t post about that in any detail. Instead, I’ve put this project on Github. If you’re interested, you can follow its development there.

Following my practice to date I haven’t bothered to read any of the documentation about the store. Instead I just looked for information on how to develop for it, starting with the Settings icon in the upper right corner of the page:

Settings icon in Chrome Web Store

When I clicked on the gear icon the drop-down menu showed a choice for Developer Dashboard, so I chose that. The resulting page looks like it’s going to guide me through the process pretty easily. There’s a link to “Start uploading your apps now!“. Seems promising…

Developer dashboard section to Upload your app

It sure looks easy. I’m not supposed to upload the CRX file, just a ZIP of the directory. I just posted such a file for my previous entry. I’m a bit worried because I put in an auto-update URL that doesn’t make sense for the app store, so I’m going to remove both the homepage and update URLs from the manifest before uploading to see what happens. I’m also going to increment the version number to reduce my own confusion.

When I uploaded the resulting ZIP file I got a page showing how the web store sees it, starting with the icon:

App summary with placeholder icon

Where’s my icon? A bit further down the page I’m offered the chance to upload another icon, saying it should be 96 pixels square. But instead I just uploaded my 128 by 128 icon again, and it took it and it looks good:

Chrome store summary showing my icon

Going down the page, I’m asked for a detailed description, so I filled it in as follows:

Want to keep track of books that haven’t been published yet, so you can decide whether to buy them when they’re ready? This app allows you to add books by ISBN or Amazon’s ASIN (including Kindle books) and keep a list showing their scheduled release date and shipping status. When you’re ready to buy, just follow the link from the app.

This app uses Amazon’s Product Advertising API, so you will need an Amazon Web Services account to use it. Accounts are free to register, and this particular API incurs no charges.

Next, I’m asked for a screen shot and at least one “promotional image”. Huh. Okay, I’ll make them up. My promotional image is just a large version of the icon on a dark background. After I filled in the rest of the form as best I could, I saved the draft, returning to the dashboard:

Dashboard showing current status with publish link

Okay, let’s try it. I pressed Publish. And got a confirmation:

Publish confirmation image

Okay, let’s try it. And… well, I was kind of expecting this:

Pay $5 now

I need to pay this once to register. That’s not much, so I went ahead and paid it through Google. I then had to click Publish again, and the listing now shows an option for Unpublish. I guess I’m done. When I click the link showing for the item, it looks like I’ve got it in the store!

My app in the Chrome Web Store

And when I click to install it, it first shows me the permissions it requires:

Install confirmation

And it installed it just fine. I’ve got two nearly identical apps showing now, the previously packaged one and the new one from the store. Chrome thinks they are different because they have different unique IDs. They don’t share storage either. I’ll leave the old app there for a while, but don’t intend to update it.

Will this make the app sync to each of my browsers? It hasn’t as of this writing, but I’ll give it some time. Enhancements to this app will be posted on my Github repository, and published in the Chrome Web Store for anyone that wants to keep following it.

[Update a few hours later: the extension did finally sync to my other computers! The data did not, which I expected. I can either do that with some other facility (perhaps AWS SimpleDB) or wait until Chrome adds an API for that, which I think is in the works.]


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