Friday, September 5, 2008

Google's Awesome New Browser: Chrome

...Another Browser, Are You Kidding Me?

When I first heard that Google had decided to add yet another browser to the world I couldn't help but groan. As a web developer I hate the fact that I'm often developing content that will behave differently in a plethora of idiosyncratic browsers.

I also couldn't see any benefit to another browser, how could this possible help the web world, won't another browser just make it worse!? But then I read the web comic and I started to believe.

Below is a quick break down of Google Chrome from 30,000 feet. In many ways Chrome really is a radically different from existing browsers.

About The Browser

Chrome is a light weight completely open source browser from Google that boasts the simplest UI I've ever seen. It uses Apple's Open Source WebKit as a rendering engine and out of the gates is Acid2 compliant. Chrome also has its own JavaScript virtual machine called V8 which is ridiculously fast. At the time of writing Chrome was only available for Windows XP/Vista, but word on the street says that there'll be versions available for Linux and OS X "soon". Here are some of the things that I think make this browser worth your time.


Not only does every tab inside Chrome runs it its own process, but every plug-in does as well. Because of this not only is there less memory fragmentation, but when a plug-in goes sour (Flash/Silverlight) or a page starts to misbehave it only kills the tab. Chrome also comes with it's own little Task Manager that lets you see how much memory/cpu/bandwith each tab is consuming. You can also see these processes running around in the Windows Task Manager.Google Chrome Task Manager View

Google Chrome Processes from Windows Task Manager

V8 - Not the Juice

V8 is Chrome's JavaScript engine. It supposedly boasts better garbage collection and more speed than other JavaScript runtimes. This is partly because V8 will actually compile your JavaScript into byte code as opposed to interpreting it. I ran Chrome at some JavaScript Benchmark sites and found it much faster than FireFox v2 and IE 7. That being said Celtic Kane claims that it still runs slower than Opera v9.5.2.

Other Features

Chrome combines the Google Search with a memory of site specific searches (ie. searches you did on or into a single text box dubbed the Omni Box. This box is supposed to help you find what you're looking for a lot faster than you would using other UI elements in traditional browsers.

The browser also supports a built in privacy mode called Incognito which is much like Safari's private browsing. It comes with the browser out of the box and it's dead simple to turn on (CTRL+SHIFT+N).

You can also view pages in Chrome Application Mode which basically strips away all the UI and allows you to focus on just the UI of the site you're on. This is ideal for web sites which are really web applications and have comprehensive UI's of their own.

There's also Phishing Filter network offered by Chrome which will try to detect phishing urls and protect you from getting duped by these sites. This behaves a lot like IE 7 or FireFox 3's phishing filters.Chrome Start Page.

If you're into splash/home pages, Chrome has an interesting take on home pages which displays your 9 most visited sites. The Chrome team claims that 70% of your browser activity is revisiting the same content/sites over an over again and this will speed up your browsing experience.

Chrome supposedly also has better security than most browsers in the sense that the rendering engine (WebKit) runs in a really low security profile AND is in a security sandbox. Ideally it will become much more difficult for hackers to tack unwanted add-ons and extension onto your browser.

The Best Kind of Open Source

Chrome and V8 source codes are released under a BSD license which is one of the most liberal software licenses out there. In a nutshell you can do anything you want with the code as long as you keep the copyright message in the code and waive rights to hold the author liable for any issues that come up. You can even repackage and sell the code commercially.

Give it a Try

I spent over two hours going through the web comic and the introduction video as Google explained why the world needed a new browser. I think the easiest way to see if YOU feel it's worth your while is to simply download the beta and browse around. Believe me when I say that it's very likely to become your next default browser.


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

thanks for another informative post. it kicked my ass to try it out.