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Revision as of 13:23, 25 June 2009 by Alice Wyman (talk | contribs) (linked to wikipedia's article, reworded first paragraph to generalize, with web browser as an example. Replaced multimedia "file" with "content". Contrasted with helper application.)
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Plugins add new functionality to an application, such as viewing special graphical formats or playing multimedia content in a web browser. A plugin works within the browser, as opposed to a helper application that is started from the browser but runs as a separate application. Plugins also differ from extensions, which modify or add to existing functionality. Common uses of plugins on the web include displaying video in the browser, games, and music playback. Widely used plugins include Java, Flash, Quicktime, and Adobe Reader.

A plugin in the context of Mozilla-based applications is a binary component that, when registered with a browser, can display content that the browser itself can't display natively. The plugin API used in Firefox and many other browsers, including Opera and Safari, is NPAPI.

A good source of information about plugins for end users is PluginDoc. Additional documentation can be found at the Mozilla Developer Center, including a comprehensive NPAPI reference.

See also: Category:Websites