Die, Print Layout, Die…. the Chrome Extension

Dion Almaer
Apr 14 · 3 min read

TL;DR I built a Chrome Extension that forces my layout of choice for Google Docs, all thanks to the escape hatches that extensions give you on the Web!

NOTE: This was originally posted on my own corner of the Internet.

I admit to having a lil bit of OCD when it comes to my digital life. Seemingly small UI and UX choices irk my brain, and I spend a lot of time in Settings and Preferences tweaking my experience.

It’s because of this that I get frustrated when products don’t have the ability to tweak and change, often on purpose, claiming “a great product shouldn’t need complicated settings!”

I disagree. I want escape hatches, and all humans aren’t the same (nor use the product in the same way), especially for tools that you spend significant time in.

Image for post
Image for post
Facebook webOS edition 2010

Back in 2010, I got to work on the “official” Facebook app, for webOS. One of the great side effects here, was that we were able to sneak in a slew of power user features, and have keyboard shortcuts for everything.

Image for post
Image for post
The place to turn “Print layout” on and off

One of my ticks shows up in Google Docs. I rarely print documents, and thus rarely see the need for the notion of “pages”. For some reason, elves get into my computer and turn on “View => Print Layout”, even though I was constantly turning it off. Even when off, I don’t like the “ — — — -” page break.

I knew I wasn’t the only one, as one way to bug Ben is to have this turned on as you go through something together, and then I saw this:

It was time to fix this…. once and for all!

Die, Print Layout, Die!

Not only do I sleep better at night, not worrying over the elves and if they are messing with my layout, but this made my day:

Escape hatches FTW

This week, the local school district banned the use of Zoom, and my kids meetings were all moved to Google Meet. As this happened, teachers were emailing parents asking them to install the Google Meet Grid View extension so the kids could all see each other.

There are trade offs on allowing this type of power, which is why we are looking to rebalance them via the next iteration of extensions (manifest v3). Grid view is an awesome feature, but the extension isn’t able to implement it as efficiently as the team itself, and this is often the case. However, it fills a gap and hopefully gets into the core product some time soon.

Once you get used to the power and extensibility, you feel constrained on platforms that don’t enable this kind of flexibility.

And when you get used to the flexibility, you look to extensions as a way to find functionality:

Ben and Dion

now: Google, formerly: Walmart Labs, Set Direction…

Medium is an open platform where 170 million readers come to find insightful and dynamic thinking. Here, expert and undiscovered voices alike dive into the heart of any topic and bring new ideas to the surface. Learn more

Follow the writers, publications, and topics that matter to you, and you’ll see them on your homepage and in your inbox. Explore

If you have a story to tell, knowledge to share, or a perspective to offer — welcome home. It’s easy and free to post your thinking on any topic. Write on Medium

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store