Building Apps for Gmail Becomes Easier with InboxSDK

Google now allows you to build apps directly into your Gmail and inbox via the InboxSDK, a high level Javascript library that can be used to develop browser extensions. These browser extensions can interact with and extend the Gmail and inbox user interface.

The SDK offers a fully maintained and extensive library of APIs in order to create comprehensive applications. As a result of the frequently updated nature of the SDK, developers will not be forced to provide maintenance for their apps.

How does it all work?

In order to start using the InboxSDK, you need to add the “inboxsdk.js” file to your extension. The file is only a small shim that is purely responsible for remotely loading the full implementation of the SDK. It is added to your extension so that it can update the actual implementation of the SDK in order to maintain compatibility with Gmail without requiring you to manually modify your extension for every change.

The implementation frequently receives updates for maintaining compatibility with Gmail, fixing bugs and errors, and adding new SDK features. However, these changes won’t apply for end users until and unless they refresh Gmail in their browser. This is because the SDK is remotely loaded, and as such it’s not possible to begin interacting with a newer version until it has been loaded.

How does it fare in terms of compatibility?

At present, the SDK is at version 1.0. This number is important and needs to be specified when the SDK is being loaded. Backwards compatible APIs may eventually be added to the existing 1.0 version of the SDK. However, any incompatible changes will arrive via a newer version. In the here and now, provided that you specify the version number correctly and that the version number is no more than two releases old, your code is guaranteed to be compatible with the SDK and function properly.

Interested developers can visit the InboxSDK docs page and get a crash course on getting started.