Mail Checker Minus; Or Why Are You Maintaining a Chrome Extension?

Update Feb 3rd 2011: I am no longer maintaining the Mail Checker Minus extension. I recommend switching over to Jason Savard‘s Checker Plus For Gmail. He’s already done a good bit of work cleaning up code and adding new features. For those of you happy with the extension as is, I will continue to make it available via the Chrome Web Store, but please note that I will not be fixing bugs or supporting the extension.

It’s fairly likely that you found this site because of the Google Chrome Extension I now maintain, Mail Checker Minus. That’s a pretty good assumption since it’s fairly popular and links here. For the two people who somehow found my site and don’t know about Mail Checker Minus, it is (in my opinion) one of the most useful plugins for Chrome. It allows you to see the number of unread mails for Gmail at a glance, preview them, and even take actions on them.

I’m not tooting my own horn here, I didn’t write Mail Checker Minus, I forked it from an extension called “Mail Checker Plus for Google Mail”. I loved Mail Checker Plus but sometime earlier this year the developer decided to modify the extension so that it injected ads into certain websites. Obviously that is a pretty awful thing to do, from what I can tell Google quickly removed Mail Checker Plus from the Chrome Web Store.

I first noticed that the extension was gone when I installed Chrome on a new computer and the only extension that didn’t auto install (sync everything is AWESOME) was Mail Checker Plus. After a bit of searching I discovered that my favorite extension was dead and gone, but the source code for it was on Github and released under the GPL. Before I even had a chance to think about it I had clicked “fork” on Github. I cloned the repo to my local computer, installed the plugin and promptly went back to my normal work.

A few days later I decided, mostly to make my life easier (I really like being able to sync everything), to rename the extension to Mail Checker Minus and put in the Chrome Web Store. I figured no one would ever see it, but I didn’t really care so long as the extension kept working for me. As it turns out there were quite a few people who installed the new extension, as of this writing there are 3,677 users and the extension is rated 5 stars. I think that is pretty awesome, so for now I guess I will keep on maintaining the Mail Checker Minus extension. I would like to thank everyone who has or will help my favorite extension continue to grow and survive.

P.S. If you think you can make a better extension, DO IT, please.

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