I set about a few days ago learning the in and outs of writing a Chrome Extension. I’ve been using the browser a little more recently after being a die hard Safari fan. Although Chrome is awesome and very fast I’m not ready just yet to claim it as my default browser over Safari. However I couldn’t pass up the chance to learning a few new things and release an extension for Chrome (and next up Safari).
Like many others I use a social checkin/location/whatever app. For me personally its Gowalla. I have used them for a little while and they have a much better interface then Foursquare. So, why not have an easy way to see where your friends are by clicking a little icon in your browser. Thats exactly what this extension, Gowalla Friends, does. It sits in your browser and upon click will show you a nice list of your friends recent checkin’s. It is the same feed you see on gowalla.com when logged in and has the same style, Gowalla has an awesome design so why change it?
You just specify your Gowalla username and thats it. To avoid overloading Gowalla’s servers I am caching the feed for 10 mins. I may change this in the future or at the very least allow you to set your own caching time (depending on how many people you follow and how often people check in). I also plan on making the code opensource and post it on github in the coming weeks so keep an eye out for that. There is nothing major in the code as its just parsing an xml feed from Gowalla but I’ll make it available non the less.
If Gowalla will open up their API more and allow me to pull in recent friends checkin’s (besides using an rss feed), allow me to get comments and photos posted, and even allow replying/leaving a comment on a friends checkin then I would love to update the extension to allow more features but as it remains the Gowalla API doesn’t seem to allow much of what I would like to do with this extension. Either way this was more of a learning experience in writing a simple extension and releasing it to Google. There might be a future blog post about it as well.
Enough of all this talk, go install the extension and let me know what you think. Download Gowalla Friends for Chrome.