Charlie

Chrome - The new guy.

Sep
09,
2008
by Charlie
     

Google Chrome!

On on September 2, 2008, Google released it's own web-browser, Google Chrome Beta. Chrome uses components from WebKit and Firefox to make a PC web browser. Since I am a MAC user, I'll only encounter Chrome via Parallels. So... I'm not sure what part of the market share I make-up and can't account for my technical problems being across the entire PC platform.

Upon approach:

Chrome has a very lean UI and reuses icons from Gmail.  Example:  The "bookmark this page" star in Chrome's navigator is the same star used to highlight mail in Gmail. The tab-based layering system is bit more technically intuitive then our other browsers by keeping the funtions and content of a tab, local to that tab. If the tab has a problem, the application doesn't fail... the individual tab fails (close the tab - close the problem). The complete lack of toolbar is a bit worrisome but overall has a refreshing layout without recent gradient UI overkill. If one is comfortable with Google's other popular stripped-down interfaces, like Gmail Light, then the minimal feel of Chrome won't come to you as a shock.

The Default Chrome homepage auto populates your "Most visited" pages in a simple grid layout and allows you to easily search your personal browsing history and bookmarks. This proves to be a practical tool and has previously been overlooked by Firefox. I'm glad to see this search has been added to the initial interface but lacks the comunity/sharing aspect of the plug-in, Delicious, where one may look at and share bookmarks with other folks.

Bugs:

My first bug came out at YouTube. I got a JavaScript message saying I needed to "Download the most recent version of Flash player" or "Enable Javascript".  After I downloaded the most recent Flash player and restarted Chrome I still wasn't able to view the flash content... and was still getting the same message. I searched for "Chrome flash player download" and came across The WWW Blog and a post they wrote about the problem that I was having. Apparently, Chrome is have difficulty with required authentication and sites that require flash to display content.

The fix was quick and rather painless but none the less, felt a bit patchy and sort-of felt like I was putting a band-aid on pretty bigger problem. From there I noticed that there wasn't an easy way for me to navigate to Chrome's plug-ins. The non-existant toolbar made me feel a bit helpless and the "Control/Customize" drop-downs didn't lead me into a specific direction.

The Developer tool:

I thought that the Developer tool was sort-of nice because I was able to highlight code the same way I do while using Firebug but wasn't able to momentarily augment code (ex: change an element's CSS display from "inline" to "block"),  thus making the tool more neat then useful. Initially, I was pleased to see such a developer friendly tool as a default in the browser. Seeing as Firebug has become one of the most powerful tools a developer can get his or her hands on, I would have been happy to thank google for the ability to fix the inevitable platform bugs a new browsers presents. But Chrome's inspector fell short of what, I thought, it's intended use was. The "Javascript Debug" dialogue occurred with out context to the rest of the code, making the tool feel useless. When I put Chrome's JS debugger against Firebug's, the Chrome tools felt like a gadget and NOT a developer tool.

Complaints:

Where I would expect to find the "Open a new page"  link, I found nothing! I figured I was in the wrong drop down but was disappointed to find that it wasn't in either of the drop-down lists. I reverted back to the "control-o" command and was relieved that it worked but felt that the non keyboard shortcut route should at least be an option. This isn't much of a bug and will, in the end, make for a more efficient user but, I feel took the leap pre-emptivly and will cause confusion with the general public who is finally grasping the concept of using tabs.

Also, by calling this version of Chrome a "Beta", Google is releasing themselves of accountability of crummy browsing, security holes and general mess-ups. Though it's may be a great idea to release a beta to the general public, it seems a little wishy-washy in the same way that Gmail beta has been around for three years.

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