Microsoft Edge, Google Chrome to get a major copy-and-paste upgrade

Microsoft Chromium

Microsoft is working with Google on a set of new “Pickle
Clipboard APIs” that would improve Google Chrome and Edge’s
default clipboard facility, allowing users to easily copy and
paste a wide variety of complex data payloads (file types)
between the browser and native apps, according to multiple
design documents seen by us.

At the moment, Chrome or Edge-based web apps or websites have
limited access to your clipboard (copy-and-paste) contents. The
current web platform in both browsers supports the most
standardized formats, such as .txt, jpg, png, HTML and other
popular formats across Windows 10, macOS, Linux or mobile
platforms.

However, the existing API does not scale to the long tail of
specialized formats. For example, web apps cannot read custom
web formats, non-web-standard formats like TIFF (a large image
format), and proprietary formats like .docx (a document
format). These formats are not supported and users cannot
copy-paste them in most web apps.

With the new set of Pickle
Clipboard APIs, Microsoft and Google are planning
to provide a solution to this problem. If the feature is
implemented in the browser and supported by developers, your
favourite web apps can read and write arbitrary unsanitized
payloads using a standardized pickling format.

In other words, you can soon copy and paste custom file formats
between web apps and native apps on Windows, macOS, Android and
other platforms.

According to Microsoft and Google, these will be the key
benefits of the upcoming clipboard API:

  • Allow copy/paste between web and native apps: This won’t be
    handled by the browser, which means it willrely on the
    operating system clipboard.
  • Developers can create custom clipboard formats.
  • Preserve security/privacy.
  • Provide fine-grained control over the clipboard.
  • Built on existing Async Clipboard API.

In multiple Chromium code patches, Microsoft has confirmed that
it has already started working on custom clipboard formats
support for Chromium browsers. For example, a patch contains
the runtime flag implementation of custom clipboard formats in
async clipboard APIs.

In another
patch note, Microsoft said it’s implementing a new API to
write both platform and portable formats together so web
authors would be able to write standard and custom formats
using the async clipboard write APIs.

“These changes will be used in [Pickle Clipboard API project]
to support custom format write operations,” Microsoft engineers
noted.

This new API is particularly helpful for developers, but it
will also dramatically improve your web browsing experience.
For example, you can easily copy documents from your File
Explorer and paste them into Google Docs or Microsoft Word.

Likewise, web apps like SketchUp will have access to more
specific or sophisticated clipboard features, which should
improve the overall copy-and-paste experience for their users.

Microsoft Office team has internally shown interest in
supporting this API.

In addition to improvements for Chromium open-source project,
Microsoft is also working on
exclusive features like Fluent Design support for Edge on
Windows 11.

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