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Intro to Your Tech: Plug-In

Intro to Your Tech: Plug-In

Ahh, the Internet. It’s an incredible tool that helps people all over the world get work done on a daily basis. It’s often thought of as a tool to achieve a means, but like any other tool, it works best alongside others just like it. Plug-ins are additional ways that web-based applications and software solutions help make your use of them even better.

What Defines a Plugin?
In its simplest terms, a plugin is a supplemental application that allows for additional functionality in a web browser or software application. These can be quite helpful and useful, as they will automatically run alongside the software’s code rather than opening up another window or instance of the application. They can allow you to view content in an entirely different way, or they might offer additional tools of their own that allow for a more enriched experience.

There are so many plugins these days that it’s unfathomable to think about the possibilities. You might already be using some of them, like Adobe Acrobat, Flash Player, Microsoft Silverlight, Java, and QuickTime Player.

Where Do Plugins Come From?
Plugins have existed since the beginning of the Internet, where HTML code wasn’t prepared to handle intensive tasks like videos or online gaming. To get around this issue, plugins were created to help showcase this troublesome content. The plugin works with the browser to render the content.

This same approach has been used for quite some time, but the same strengths and weaknesses of plugins still exist to this day. These weaknesses have fueled developers with a desire to make great advancements and improve their methods. One example of this is a plugin that runs separate from a browser while still being able to interact with it. While plugins have traditionally been separate from other content on the web, there is more effort than ever before being placed on integrating the two closely.

So It’s the Same as a Browser Extension?
It’s not quite the same as a browser extension--the difference lies in how much data either one can access. A plugin works in largely the same way no matter which browser is being used. The plugins are essentially added to an individual page. In comparison, an extension is built into the browser itself. In this way, it can be utilized by any page the browser opens up.

Did you learn anything new about plugins? Let us know which tech terms you’d like us to cover in the future.

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