Building Momentum

So you’ve probably seen people using a Chrome Extension called Momentum. It looks like this:

It describes itself like this:

Momentum is a personal dashboard designed to eliminate distraction and provide inspiration, focus, and productivity.

They’ve got a team of 8 people and are hiring two developers, and you can unlock the premium features for $3.33/month. Tim Ferris says lot’s of nice things about it.

There’s nothing wrong with any of that. If you can conquer the Premium New Browser Tab market, good for you.

But then again, it’s just a nicely designed starter page. And I’m a developer, and sometimes I like to make things for myself.


So here’s maybe a combined two hours of messing around.

Tada! That was easy!

Chrome extensions are just folders with a manifest.json inside. Here’s mine:

  "name": "My private new tab",
  "version": "0.0.1",
  "manifest_version": 2,
  "description": "Just for me.",
  "homepage_url": "",
  "chrome_url_overrides": {
    "newtab": "index.html"

That’s all. The key line is the newtab override. index.html is a web page with some regular old CSS and JS attached. Load as an unpacked extension through Chrome settings and you’re done.

The art is centered on travel. If I’ve been there, the photos are mine. If I’m going in the future, I borrowed something from Unsplash. Which makes me realize that I should have taken better pictures in Montreal.

I set up an object of dates I want to countdown to and iterate over them.1 Honestly the hardest part of all of this is working through all the dumb things in the javascript Date API.

There’s a small button in the corner to show work-related links (Slack, Github, Jira, etc.) It remembers that preference in localStorage.

The emoji on the clock changes between ☕️,🍷, and 💤 based on the time of day.

The only thing I didn’t get to was weather, which needs an API key.

And just because I can, there’s always a 5% chance during waking hours that a new tab will be interrupted by a beagle.

Can we go outside?


Everything is hard coded because this is a toy and it doesn’t matter. If I wanted to-do lists or something that actually need dynamic data, Firebase would make a lot of sense.

I could probably get my Pocket feed to pull in too. There’s an API for it.

To their credit, Momentum can integrate with Asana/Basecamp/Github issues/Todoist etc. That’s actually a good chunk of work. In v2.0 I will attempt to make my tab sync with my giant paper notebook, but I suspect that’s a long shot.

Because it only needs to work in Chrome, all of ES6 is fair game, as are CSS variables and other shiny new things that you can’t normally use without a transpiler.


It’s a fun completely unnecessary project that doesn’t take that long. If you find yourself going “hey, I could do that,” please share a screenshot.

  1. Mocked in the screenshot. No I will not meet you in France next week.