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Ask HN: Chrome Extension Is 'Pending Review' for 7 Days
7 points by evermike on Jan 8, 2020 | hide | past | favorite | 6 comments
Something has changed recently and now Google, instead of a few hours (as it was before), manually review our browser extension for several days (up to 7 days) every single time we publish a newer version to the Chrome Web Store. Frankly speaking, we see no prerequisites for this: there were no significant changes, we are working on this extension for many years already, we have many users, good ratings...

Google does not provide any feedback/guidance upon review so we have no idea what can be improved. There is neither any support nor answers on various public forums. Altought we are definitely not alone with this problem.

Has anyone encountered a similar problem? Maybe someone managed to understand what was causing the issue?

Please advice.

Yes, I've also experienced this developing my extension [1] Newsit l. I encountered long wait times of a few days.

Firefox has consistently been much quicker to approve updates. They also allow source code to be submitted to, in order to better verify the extensions behaviour and possibly do diffs on extension versions.

The process for extension approval is still very human-driven, so there's a few things to help speed up the process:

- Understandable abstractions: eg separate view code from logic, so it's easier to understand the application

- Try not to transpile or obfuscate, as it becomes extremely difficult to determine behaviours and capabilities of the app

- Simplify as much as possible, as someone else has read through and sign-off saying its a "safe" app. The simpler the quicker it can be understood...

[1] https://newsit.benwinding.com/

Sadly, yes.

I worked on an extension deployed to Firefox and Chrome, initially, Firefox was taking around two days to accept changes, while the app was being released on Chrome pretty fast (taking a couple of hours), at that time, the extension was built in TypeScript without minification, my guess is that this lack of minification helped to get changes accepted on Chrome.

After some time, the extension was migrated to Scala (thanks god for scalajs), as Firefox asks for the source code while submitting updates, I guess this change was not a problem, it was being accepted on Chrome as well.

Some updates later, Chrome rejected an update with no clear reasons (it was a 1 line change to fix a bug), after trying to fix everything we could and until it got accepted, this review process took more than 3 weeks!

After the first rejection on Chrome, most updates started taking days to get reviewed (a week long was common), the last update was rejected again with no clear reason, i tried contacting support (good luck trying to find the email, not unusual in google products) and even offered to share the source code or even open source it to simplify the review process, they didn't commented on this and just gave some hints about the rejection.

I have the feeling they flagged our extension since the first rejection and that causes the delays but I don't what could have possibly cause your delays.

You can try contacting support on chromewebstore-dev-support [at] google.com

Good luck!

Tried already and got the following reply:



Thank you for reaching out to us. I understand that it is taking awhile for the review to be completed and approved.

Please note that both new item submissions as well as updates to existing items are subject to automated system checks and may be flagged for manual review. Review times vary; some reviews complete in a few hours, others take many days, and in some cases a review can take several weeks, depending on review complexity of each item.

This documentation [1] will be helpful to get an understanding on what items our review team considers for manual review.

However, I noticed checked your extension and it's published to the Chrome Web Store successfully. Let us know if you need help with anything else. We greatly appreciate your understanding.

Warm regards,

Chrome Web Store Developer Support Team


[1] https://developer.chrome.com/webstore/faq#faq-listing-08

Completely normal unfortunately and I get the same issue with my extension that has lots of users and a good rating [1].

Check out the Chrome extensions newsgroup and you'll find that instead of technical issues being discuss it's message after message of "Why is it taking weeks for my extension to be approved?" even when all that changed was the description.

I'd be up for joining/starting a petition at this stage - it's making extension development really unpleasant. There's no good reason why changing the description or changing a single line of code should take weeks of review time.

If you have a critical bug in a paid Chrome extension, what are you supposed to do? Do the big Chrome extensions like Grammarly and LastPass get special treatment? If LastPass has a security vulnerability, will Google really make them wait weeks to update their extension?

[1] https://www.checkbot.io/

Your comment made me remember, the first time my extension took more than 3 weeks in review was when the description was "improved". There weren't any code changes, it's totally insane and as you said, it makes developing chrome extensions unpleasant.

Yeah, plus the Google team on this won't give much away about what the review process involves either because they say it'll give too much away to attackers. I can't see how there can be any justification for taking weeks to review a description change. It feels like the review system is really broken and they don't care.

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