The latest Chrome 22 dev comes with a very handy new feature, configurable keyboard shortcuts for extensions. Granted, the support is limited for now, but once developers start using the new functionality, extensions are going to feel much more a part of the browser than they are now.
The new feature
is available in the extensions configuration page (Wrench menu > Tools > Extensions) at the very bottom. It's labeled as "Configure commands" and it does just that.
Click it and you'll see a list of extensions and actions that you can assign keyboard shortcuts to. For now, just the extensions that have a toolbar icon show up, those that run in the background do not.
That's because you can only assign a shortcut to "activate" the extension and nothing else for now.
"Activate" in this case is the equivalent of clicking on the extension's toolbar icon so the keyboard shortcut will do whatever clicking on the icon does. Thus, the usefulness of the shortcut will depend entirely on the extensions.
For those that have a clearly defined action assigned to the button, a shortcut will be great, for example a "send to Kindle" extensions. For those that just open up a menu, shortcuts won't be of much use.
However, this is just the first step. There are plenty of extensions that implement their own custom keyboard shortcuts, sometimes enabling users to configure them.
Now, these extensions will be able to tap into an API that handles all of this for them and provides users with a consistent UI and a common place to handle all keyboard shortcuts. App developers will find the feature even more useful perhaps.
" API for Chrome is still experimental, but its goal is to offer a common interface for configurable keyboard shortcuts to extensions. Once developers start supporting it and it loses the "experimental" tag, you'll start seeing more useful options in the "Configure commands" menu.