Initial Thoughts On Google Chrome

I figured I’d blog my initial thoughts on Google chrome. Rather than a hard to read essay, I figured bullet points are easier to read/scan, so that’s what I’ll do.

Announcement

  • Another One Bites the Dust – The classic Queen song was played both before and after the presentation. I can’t help to think this was an intentional joke about a browser biting the dust.
  • From Scratch – How can a browser be both written from scratch, and based on the existing WebKit at the same time? Is this a bug? 😉
  • Ben Goodger – Did a good job selling the UI.
  • BSD License – All of it is BSD licensed. Very interesting that it’s not pulling a Safari. Chromium Project, V8.
  • Incognito Mode – Ben/Brian discussed it without mentioning the word “Porn”, though you can somewhat tell that they were both dying to use the “P” word…. uhh for research… for a friend!
  • Static Content Performance – As shown in the demonstration: IE7: 220.64ms, Chrome: 77.28ms. Less is more.
  • Dynamic Content Performance – As shown in the demonstration: IE7: 5.8 RPH, Chrome: 569.3RPM. More is more.
  • Search Box Missing – I agree with merging the search box with the url bar. It makes sense and results in a cleaner UI.

My Testing

  • Build – This is build 0.2.149.27 (1583)
  • UseragentMozilla/5.0 (Windows; U; Windows NT 5.1; en-US) AppleWebKit/525.13 (KHTML, like Gecko) Chrome/0.2.149.27 Safari/525.13. Noteworthy that they keep “Safari” in there. This looks like what I’d expect.
  • Bug Type – “reporter” feature has a “Bug type” called “browser crash… go boom”. I like jokes in software.
  • Tubes – The gears plugin in the chrome install has the file description “These are the Gears that power the tubes!”. Awesome Ted Stevens reference.
  • History View – I always wanted the history view in Firefox to be in a page rather than a sidebar. I understand the thought behind the implementation, but when you see how Chrome is laid out, it’s clearly superior.
  • No PPC Support – Because of how V8 works, I strongly suspect Google Chrome will never support Mac/PPC despite it still being supported by Apple until (likely) 10.6. In the press conference they said anyone can port V8 to another platform, if you have 3-4 months. Doubt they will use any other engine for that one platform. I’d say it’s toast.
  • Chrome API – The announcement mentioned plans for an extension API. Looking at the files it ships, it looks like almost all dll’s. Because of this I doubt we’ll see a method as simple as Firefox. Not sure how the interface is put together but it doesn’t look like anything as flexible as XUL, Boxely or XAML.
  • about: – So far I’ve found about:, about:memory, about:plugins.
  • Slickspeed Test – Ran a test and found Chrome did 115ms, 130ms, Safari 3.1 did: 28ms, 68ms, while Firefox 3 did 179ms, 294ms (prototype, jQuery). Interesting that Safari selectors are still faster.
  • Walt Mossberg – Everyone’s favorite tech writer Walt Mossberg wrote:

    Despite Google’s claims that Chrome is fast, it was notably slower in my tests at the common task of launching Web pages than either Firefox or Safari. However, it proved faster than the latest version of IE — also a beta version — called IE8.

  • Icon – Daniel Glazman identified the source of inspiration for the icon.
  • Phone Home – Matt Cutts has a blog post on when Chrome phones home
  • Omnibox – It’s ability to find new search engines is pretty neat… wonder how well that really works in day to day browsing though. Otherwise it’s essentially an Awesomebar to me.
  • Application Shortcut – The Prism-like functionality is just that. Essentially it just passes the url as a param into the Chrome exe via a shortcut. Looks like unless Gears is used you’ll use the Favicon which looks pretty bad.
  • Download Manager – The download manager is pretty cool, but if you download a number of files, I think this interface can get pretty cumbersome. Just like Thunderbird with a lot of attachments.
  • Font Rendering – It looks like they are using GDI Text rendering to avoid that blurry mess that Safari uses on Windows. I suspect Apple will do the same soon.

Overall it seems pretty smooth. From what I’ve seen, the process model does result in more memory in total than Firefox 3, since most tabs I open stay open for quite a while. It’s clearly still a little rough, but it’s not even out for 12hrs yet.

I await a Mac release. I just realized Pinkerton is working on Chromium as well, so I have a feeling the Mac release won’t suck but will be a real port that looks and feels like a Mac application should.

I don’t think it was mentioned in the press conference, but the Chromium blog is open.

Wired has a great article on inside the project. In addition to the names I mentioned yesterday, Bryan Ryner was also involved in at least the prototype.

I’ll make one prediction: The code most likely to find it’s way into other browsers is the GreenBorders stuff. It was originally for IE/Firefox, making it most suitable for possible adaptation to be included in other browsers. I’m not sure how much of it remains and how easy to adapt it would be though.

I’ll leave this “review” right here and unfinished since it’s still an ongoing project. Just wanted to share my initial thoughts. I’ll follow up at some point in the future when I feel it’s right to do so.

Any thoughts/additions? Feel free to leave a comment.

Edit [9/2/2008 @ 10:55 PM EST] – Added prediction about GreenBorders and link to Wired Article.

14 thoughts on “Initial Thoughts On Google Chrome

  1. “Porn Mode” might be the most common use for that feature, but I can still see it being quite useful for other situations. We have a communal pool of development machines here at work with a generic local user account. The whole Incognito Mode thing would be useful for stuff like accessing stuff that requires a login, without any chance of having the browser remember that information long term…

  2. lack of the configurations settings to modify, the popular about:config or another like that

  3. Besides Matt’s comments, we also have about:hang (simulates hang), about:crash (simulates crash), about:cache, about:ipc (maybe only in debug mode), about:blank (duh), and (since you like Ted Stevens) about:internets (does not work on Vista).

  4. Funny how the post mentions about the combination URL/search bar – remember back in the day when Firefox (then Phoenix) came along and separated the two? After they had been combined for years in Mozilla Suite. Go figure.

    Also, I’m kinda disappointed to not see about:mozilla – even IE has that.

  5. Pingback: รวมรีวิว-ความเห็นต่อ Google Chrome จา?ต่างประเทศ — BeGadget

  6. Pingback: Google Chrome: the revolutionary browser ? //. byDust

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