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Open Sourcing our Chrome Extension

July 6, 2020
Nicolas Goutay
Software Engineer
Open Sourcing our Chrome Extension
Welcome to The Observatory, the community newsletter from Orbit.

Each week we go down rabbit holes so you don't have to. We share tactics, trends and valuable resources we've observed in the world of community building.

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TL;DR: the source code of the Orbit Chrome Extension is available on GitHub!

GitHub is at the heart of most developer communities. One of the core features of Orbit is to make it easy to keep track of all that is happening there, empowering developer advocates and maintainers alike to connect to the people behind the contributions.

Bringing community insights right into GitHub

Interacting with contributors (or potential contributors) on GitHub is not that straightforward though, since the maintainer usually has little to no context on the person they’re interacting with. Depending on whether they are familiar with the repository, or even with contributing on GitHub at all, you might want to adapt your response.

Have they contributed a bunch of times already? You could let them investigate on their own and tell them you’re available for specific guidance. Is that their first contribution? Maybe start with some pointers around the codebase, or by mentioning known quirks in the development setup.

The Orbit Chrome extension brings those community insights and puts them right where you need them: in GitHub itself. On any Issue, Pull Request or comment, a new Orbit icon is available to show you how involved the author is—both in your own community and in Open Source in general.

Demo of the extension: clicking on the Orbit icon in a GitHub issue comment displays that the author contributed 2 times to this repository, and 200+ times overall

If you want to give it a try, it is already available for download in the Chrome Webstore (an Orbit account is also required).

Open Sourcing the extension

Building Chrome extensions is not easy, but building this one would have been a lot harder had it not been for all the Open Source code and knowledge we had access to. Ranging from Henry Zhu’s amazing Contributors on GitHub to Sarah Drasner’s How to Build a Chrome Extension post, we were able to learn a lot, avoid past mistakes, and iterate faster.

To help future developers like we were helped, we are happy to announce that the source code for the Orbit Extension is now available on GitHub under the MIT license.

Here’s a sneak peek at what is happening under the hood:

  • The core features are written in pure JavaScript, ensuring high performance and low memory footprint;
  • API requests are cached and only triggered on hover to avoid unnecessary requests while guaranteeing a speedy experience;
  • The options page of the extension is powered by AlpineJS and TailwindCSS for a productive developer experience;
  • Unit and integration tests rely on jest and DOM Testing Library to simulate user interactions, and they are run on Heroku CI on each push.

Feel free to star the project on GitHub if you find it useful, and to DM me on Twitter (@phacks) if you have any questions about how it works!

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