Taming the Chrome Web Store

Chromium LogoWell, “taming” is probably too ambitious given the jungle that the Chrome Web Store is, especially as this post is restricted to publishing a standalone DWScript/JavaScript app into the Web Store in a few simple steps.

Interestingly enough, it seems that publishing Metro apps for Windows 8 will follow a similar process, according to the developer preview.

I’ll use the Flock Demo as an illustration, and turn it into a packaged app, that lives in Chrome and can be access off-line.

Bare minimum requirements

First prepare a folder for the app, in that folder you’ll need all your sources and resources (html, js, images, etc.), in our case, that’s just

  • flock.htm
  • jquery.js

For more complex cases, you are allowed to have sub-folders to neatly arrange everything.

The extra required Chrome package files are, at a bare minimum:

  • manifest.json
  • 16×16 icon (PNG format)
  • 128×128 icon (PNG format)

The manifest.json I used is the following

  "name": "DWScript Flock Demo",
  "version": "1.5",
  "description": "Interactive Canvas demonstration for DWScript",
  "app": {
    "launch": {
      "local_path": "flock.htm"
  "icons": {
    "16": "icon_16.png",
    "128": "icon_128.png"

Note that the specs for manifest.json are rather “raw”, and if you get something wrong, you’ll likely fail your submission, and each failed attempt, if it’s not caught during upload, will be result in an error at install time. When you re-upload you need to specify a new version number (that’s why it’s at 1.5 in the above snippet!).

Testing and publishing the packaged app

To minimize issues, you can test your app as an unpackaged app in Chrome, go to tools/extensions, then activate the “developer mode”. You’ll then be able to specify the folder in which you placed your app. This also allows to run everything with the developer tools (debugger, etc.).

Once you’re confident enough, you can upload to the Web Store, for that just zip your folder and submit it. The zip can hold sub-folders, but make sure your manifest is at the root of the zip. Be aware there is $5 one-time, lifetime fee per Web Store developer account (not per app).

Then you’ll have the choice of publishing to testers or to end users, that choice is currently final, ie. if you publish to testers, you’ll have to create another web store entry for the user version. Note that there is a small delay between publishing an update, and the update being available for installation.

Finally, all that’s left is a bit of marketing, preparing a screen-shot or two, a YouTube video, a promotional tile, etc. If you’re on a budget, you can use CamStudio to grab the video.

See DWScript Flock Demo on the Chrome Web Store.

As a packaged app, it’ll be available in Chrome from the “Applications” bar of a new tab (Ctrl+T), you can also view them in the context menu.