NPAPI (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/NPAPI) stands for Netscape Plugin Application Programming Interface, first launched in 1995 with Netscape Navigator 2.0... Google announced in September of 2013 that they would be phasing it out stating "NPAPI’s 90s-era architecture has become a leading cause of hangs, crashes, security incidents, and code complexity." and their plans were laid out in the NPAPI deprecation: developer guide (https://www.chromium.org/developers/npapi-deprecation)
They also note in that guide the following:
In April 2015 (Chrome 42) NPAPI support will be disabled by default in Chrome and we will unpublish extensions requiring NPAPI plugins from the Chrome Web Store. All NPAPI plugins will appear as if they are not installed, as they will not appear in the navigator.plugins list nor will they be instantiated (even as a placeholder). Although plugin vendors are working hard to move to alternate technologies, a small number of users still rely on plugins that haven’t completed the transition yet. We will provide an override for advanced users (via chrome://flags/#enable-npapi) and enterprises (via Enterprise Policy) to temporarily re-enable NPAPI (via the page action UI) while they wait for mission-critical plugins to make the transition. In addition, setting any of the plugin Enterprise policies (e.g. EnabledPlugins, PluginsAllowedForUrls) will temporarily re-enable NPAPI.
Fast forward to two days ago, Chrome updates itself and a sizable problem shows itself:
Dymo thermal label makers stop working in Chrome with no notice and no explanation... Yup, that is right, one of the most popular printers in the world suddenly does not work on the browser that is used on roughly 50% of desktops and tablets in the world.
Thankfully there were some rather astute people in a few Facebook groups that were able to find the Dymo developer's blog post from December 2014 and an update to the article advising people to use the workaround override mentioned above:
http://developers.dymo.com/2014/12/04/d ... nd-chrome/
In the comments, someone that I assume is a dev for Dymo writes:
Currently we are working on a solution which should be ready before September.
Which is where my head almost explodes... A division of a Fortune 500 company is faced with one of their major product lines suddenly not working any more, has at least 18 months notice that it is coming and they did not have a solution ahead of time to keep it from being a problem.
To give some perspective on how many printers we are talking about, the Dymo 450 Turbo sells roughly 20,000 units a year on Amazon and is one of 4 Dymo models in the top 10 thermal label printers on Amazon. As a pure guess because the actual sales numbers are not published, the full range of Dymo printers probably accounts for at least 250,000 units sold on Amazon a year. And that is just Amazon and does not take into account the hundreds or thousands of other places that such products are sold. In addition, these printers are significantly lower cost than models from Zebra, Brother and other manufacturers which means they are much more likely to be used in small businesses and homes where the percentage of users that use Chrome is significantly higher.
I made a comment on the blog which I doubt will be approved by the moderator:
I find it rather troubling that this NPAPI issue has been known for at least 18 months and the talk is that it SHOULD be fixed by September… I mean this had to have come up in meetings at least a few times, someone dropped the ball on addressing this issue.
Ahh well, maybe a 5000% increase in support ticket volume will make senior management realize that this should be fixed…
After some more discussion on Facebook, I commented:
I am putting together an email to Newell Rubbermaid, their parent company, in regards to the situation. For a Fortune 500 company to not address an issue that affects the ability to use some their products with 50% of the tablets and computers on the internet after having at least 18 months notice that it was coming is worse than just incompetence... Someone or a group of someones actively ignored an issue that could result in major losses in market share for their company.
My guess is that the executive levels within the parent organization never heard about this being a potential issue and thus it was not on their radar as a priority. I bet that the entire organizational structure at Dymo is busy playing cover your own ass from the director level down right about now, desperately hoping that the board members do not find out that this happened and figure out who to fire over it.