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Chrome: Make button a page action #45
#34 added a button to the Chrome toolbar. That button is often disabled, because we're not in a rich-text field it can operate on. Chrome has an even better system for this called Page Actions.
A Page Action is like a Browser Action (the current type of button), but it only shows up conditionally, and it appears inside the URL bar. You can use
This way, the button gets out of the way when it's not useful, and appears when it can help.
I first implemented the button as a pageAction, since that seemed like the obviously correct thing to do. But after showing it to a few people, I realized that no one knows that pageActions are interactive -- everyone just thinks they're informational.
I asked for other people's thoughts in the Markdown Here Google Group...
...and in the UX StackExchange...
...and in the Chrome Extension Dev Google+ community...
...and the general consensus seems to be that, indeed, people just don't know that they can click pageActions.
That being the case, I'm forced to conclude that if I have to choose between the button being a browserAction or a pageAction (and in Chrome I do have to decide), the best choice is browserAction.
Sorry, dude. I feel you -- I don't like toolbar clutter either -- but it's not going to be a pageAction. I recommend that you remove it -- right-click and then "Hide Button" -- and use the context menu or hotkey.
Yeah, I think the pageAction design is a UX bug (for both Chrome and Firefox). There are virtually no affordances indicating that they're clickable: they're not raised like most buttons, they don't change appearance if you hover over them (or most don't, or not enough), and the mouse cursor doesn't change to hand. The tooltip text often isn't even an action-verb phrase.
Ah well. Onward and upward.