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Fiverr: We make Chrome extensions ko-fi

An API for Chrome extension messaging that makes sense. Uses Promises and Observables for convenience.

Table of Contents

Getting started

You will need to use a bundler like Rollup, Parcel, or Webpack to include this library in the build of Chrome extension.

See rollup-plugin-chrome-extension for an easy way use Rollup to build your Chrome extension!


$ npm i @extend-chrome/messages


Send and receive messages using isomorphic message wrappers, or with a traditional messages object.

// messages.js, used in both the background and content script
import { getMessage } from '@extend-chrome/messages'

// getMessage returns [Function, Observable, Function]
export const [sendNumber, numberStream, waitForNumber] = getMessage(
  // String to be used as a greeting
// background.js, a background script
import { numberStream } from './messages'

// numberStream is an RxJs Observable
numberStream.subscribe(([n, sender]) => {
  console.log('the data passed to sendNumber', n)
  // Sender is a Chrome runtime MessageSender
  console.log('the message sender', sender)
// content.ts, a content script
import { sendNumber } from './messages'

document.body.onclick = () => {
  sendNumber(42) // 42 is logged in the background

getMessage has great TypeScript support!

If you're into TypeScript, getMessage is a generic function. It shines when you define the message data type. No more message data type mistakes! Intellisense has you covered.

// messages.ts
import { getMessage } from '@extend-chrome/messages'

interface Stats {
  hi: number
  low: number
  date: string

export const [sendStats, statsStream, waitForStats] = getMessage<Stats>('STATS')

// If you have a message type with no data, use void rather than undefined
// This way you can call it with zero arguments
export const [sendReady, readyStream, waitForReady] = getMessage<void>('READY')
// background.ts
import { statsStream } from './messages'

statsStream.subscribe(([{ hi, lo, date }, sender]) => {
  // Intellisense knows this is an Observable of
  // [Stats, chrome.runtime.MessageSender]

waitForReady().then(() => {
  console.log('content.ts is ready')
// content.ts
import { sendStats } from './messages'

sendStats({ hi: 30, low: 14, date: '11/12/2019' })

// Throws a TS error
sendStats('not a Stats object')



TypeScript Definitions

This library is written in TypeScript, extensively typed, and definitions are included, so no need to install an additional @types library!

RxJs Observables

Version 0.5.0 introduces an RxJs Observable as messages.stream.


Version 0.5.0 introduces getScope, a way to use a separate messaging space.

This is useful if you are writing a library for Chrome extensions that uses messages internally, but you don't want to pollute the global messaging space.



import { getMessage } from '@extend-chrome/messages'

const [sendMessage, messageStream, waitForMessage] = getMessage('greeting')

Use this function to create an isomorphic message system. Import it into both the message sender and receiver context (ie, the background page and a content script). getMessage is a TypeScript generic function. See the Usage section for more information, including TypeScript support!


Type: string

A unique string to identify the message.

Returns: [messageSender, messageStream]

Type: [Function, Observable]

Import the messageSender into the context you wish to send a message. Call the sender with the data you want to send.

messageStream is an Observable of a [data, MessageSender] tuple. Import the messageStream into the context you wish to recieve messages. Subscribe to it with a message handler function.

The messages Namespace

If you're more comfortable with a traditional messages namespace, import the messages object.

messages.send(data, [options])

Sending one-way messages is simple: just call messages.send with an object that includes at least a greeting property.

// content-script.js
import { messages } from '@extend-chrome/messages'

// Simple message with no data
messages.send({ greeting: 'hello' }).then(() => {
  console.log('The message was sent.')

// Message with data
    greeting: 'with-data',
    // You can use any prop name or value
    data: { x: 1 },
  .then(() => {
    console.log('The message was sent.')

Actually, you can send any data type as a message, but an object with a greeting prop is a nice, flexible pattern.

Get a response with options.async

Set the optional options.async to true to receive a response. Only message listeners with the third sendResponse argument will receive async messages.

// content-script.js
import { messages } from '@extend-chrome/messages'

    // Message
    { greeting: 'hello' },
    // Options
    { async: true },
  .then((response) => {
    console.log('They said', response.greeting)


To receive one way messages, use a message handler function with 0 or 1 arguments. This handler will only receive messages sent without the async option.

The return value of the handler is unused.

// background.js
import * as messages from '@extend-chrome/messages'

// Listener should have 2, 1, or 0 arguments
messages.on((message, sender) => {
  if (message.greeting === 'hello') {
    console.log(sender.id, 'said hello')
Async Messages

I've found relying on async messages to be a bit of an anti-pattern. Chrome is pretty aggressive about closing the response port, so unless you're doing something synchronous, it's better to use a separate message and use a listener to handle responses.

To receive async messages, use a message handler with 3 arguments. This handler will only receive messages sent with the async option.

The third argument is a sendResponse function, which must be called very quickly, or Chrome will throw an error. Even a single await may make the extension unreliable.

// Async functions are OK!
messages.on(async (message, sender, sendResponse) => {
  if (message.greeting === 'hello') {
    console.log(sender.id, 'said hello')

    await somethingAsync()

    // Still need to call sendResponse
    sendResponse({ greeting: 'goodbye' })


Call this with the message handler function you wish to stop using.


Type: Observable

An Observable of all messages in its scope.

import { messages } from '@extend-chrome/messages'

// Receives all messages in the default scope
messages.stream.subscribe(([message, sender, sendResponse]) => {
  if (typeof sendResponse !== 'undefined') {
    // If sendResponse is defined, it must be called
    sendResponse({ greeting: 'message received!' })


This is useful if you are writing a library for Chrome extensions that uses messages internally, but you don't want to pollute the global messaging space.

import { messages, getScope } from '@extend-chrome/messages'

const myScope = getScope('my-library')

// `messages.on` will not receive this message
myScope.send({ greeting: 'hey' })

// `myScope.on` will not receive this message
messages.send({ greeting: 'hello?' })

Note: The Chrome API Event chrome.runtime.onMessage will still receive all messages, but projects using @extend-chrome/messages will not receive messages from other scopes.

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