Required Technical Background for Extensions

Pop-Out Extensions

If pop-out control is enabled, the extension iframe has an icon button that viewers can click to pop out the extension into its own window. If an extension is popped out:

To determine whether an extension is popped out, developers can inspect the query string of their iframe for the popout parameter (see Client Query Parameters in the Extensions Reference).

By default, pop-out control is enabled for panel Extensions and for extension “live configuration views” (see the Live Config Path setting on the Asset Hosting tab in the Extensions manager.

Components of Extensions

Each extension comprises these components:

Architecture Overview


Extensions are front-end iframes. Typically they communicate via AJAX with an Extension Backend Service (EBS): a Web service that is developed, deployed, and maintained by the extension developer.

While an extension is being tested, the iframe and all its assets are sourced from a URL provided by the extension developer, allowing rapid development iteration. Once the extension is ready for review by Twitch, and later in production, assets to be hosted by Twitch are copied to the Twitch CDN (Content Delivery Network) and served from there.

An extension’s iframe must import the Extension Helper JavaScript file, created and hosted by Twitch, which provides methods for dealing with authentication, receiving notifications of stream properties, and listening to PubSub events. Twitch PubSub is a system that allows backend services to broadcast real-time messages to clients.

Twitch PubSub

The Twitch PubSub system provides an additional channel for your EBS to communicate with your extension. Your extension front end can use AJAX to directly call your EBS to retrieve initial state or send viewer-initiated events (like voting). PubSub is a very efficient way for the EBS to directly broadcast real-time events or provide incremental state changes to all instances of your extension.

In a typical use case, your EBS will use the Send Extension PubSub Message endpoint to broadcast messages to viewers using PubSub. Your extension front end will then use the Extension Helper to listen for incoming messages. For details, see the Extensions Reference.

JSON Web Tokens (JWTs)

When developing Twitch extensions, it’s important to fully understand how JSON Web Tokens (JWTs) provide secure communication across Twitch, a viewer’s extension, and your EBS. If you are not familiar with JWTs, visit the official site for an introduction.

Twitch Extensions uses JWTs in two contexts:

The secret is base64 encoded. The secret provided to you in the Extensions console is a base64-encoded string. Depending on the JWT library you use, you probably will have to decode the string before using it as a parameter to sign or verify a JWT.

Example of proper verification of JWTs:

const secret = new Buffer('NOTAREALSECRET==', 'base64');
jwt.verify(token, secret);

Example of signing a JWT:

const secret = new Buffer('NOTAREALSECRET==', 'base64');
const signedToken = jwt.sign(tokenPayload, secret);

Keep your secret private. While this code contains the secret as an example, we strongly recommend that you do not store your secret in your code. It is always best practice to store sensitive information such as secrets, keys, and passwords separate from code, using a dedicated secret-management system.

Authentication Tokens

The Extension Helper provides the iframe with an authentication JWT. When the iframe wants to communicate with its EBS, it sends this token in an HTTP header to the EBS. The JWT is signed by Twitch, using a secret shared between Twitch and the extension developer. The EBS can then use this secret to verify the incoming JWT and ensure that received messages are from a legitimate source. Also, the JWT itself contains reliable information about the role of the sender; e.g., whether the incoming message is from a viewer or a broadcaster.

Opaque IDs

The Extension Helper provides:

Opaque IDs persist across all channels, and they do not change unless viewers explicitly request to rotate their identity. We encourage developers to use their EBS to store per-viewer information, using opaque IDs as keys. If your extension needs to know the viewer’s numeric Twitch ID, use the Request Identity Link field on the Extensions manager Capabilities tab.

An opaque ID that begins with “A” is a logged-out user and should not be persisted. It will change every time the logged-out user loads your extension.


When a viewer clicks into an extension, Twitch sends focus back to the player, to ensure that keyboard shortcuts for the player continue to work. However, if an extension asks viewers to click on a form field element (for example, “field,” “select,” “textarea”) and the viewer does so, the focus stays on the form element.

The Firefox browser has a known issue that prevents these input types from capturing focus.