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Thoughts on Google Chrome


Posted by Artem Russakovskii on September 3rd, 2008 in Technology
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Updated: September 5th, 2008

So Google Chrome – Google's attempt at an open source browser, came out yesterday and I took it out for a spin. At its heart is the Webkit engine (also open source) and Google Gears, powered by SQLite (can MySQL rival SQLite in applications like this?). Here are my thoughts.

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  • Fast – Chrome loads extremely fast, blazing even. Granted, my Firefox would probably load fast if I didn't have any addons as well. Sites like Amazon or Digg load very fast. New tabs open instantly.
  • Slow – http://www.blinkx.com/videos/channel:itn, seems like the combination of flash and html (or JS) on one page makes scrolling and redrawing quite slow.
  • Very fluid design – I love how the tabs flow around when you drag them or make them pop in or out, I love how fluid animation and resizing is.
  • Internal task manager – an absolutely brilliant idea. Since each tab and plugin get their own process, they don't affect each other. Any freezes are isolated to the process itself, so the days of hung browsers because of some buggy javascript should be gone gone (I'll actually have to see how well it works first).

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  • Great Google search integration and overall Firefox3-like url bar behavior.
  • The word search functionality is amazing – best out of all browsers. It's incredibly fast, even on large pages, highlights all the matches, with the current one in orange, and more importantly, gives count (finally!). The search popup complements the fluidity perfectly.

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  • History – looks great and has a timeline style. It's like reading a journal.
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  • View Source – again, best in class. Highlighting and line numbers by default. Url access style: view-source:http://digg.com. Search spread highlighting on the right. It's close to perfect, without using any plugins.

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  • My bookmarks, where art though? Where's the bookmarks menu? I know the homepage has them, and there's a pretty hidden way to make the bookmarks bar appear all the time (right click on it while on the home page and check 'Always show bookmarks bar' but that's not what I want. I like placing many-many bookmarks named with 1 or 2 letters onto the bookmarks bar (I found a way to emulate the behavior in the screenshot below). How can I create duplicates of the same bookmark in different places? It seems you can only bookmark in one. The interface to get around managing the bookmarks isn't well thought out, you can get to certain places only the certain way. How do you export/import bookmarks after the initial installation (I chose to skip mine)? Edit: Apparently, you can't yet.

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  • The homepage button is missing (though it can be enabled by Options->Show Home button on the toolbar). Why is it not on by default?

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  • I also enabled the following option right away (the main reason I use TabMix Plus for Firefox):

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  • Scrolling is very choppy and goes in huge jumps on my laptop (not the case in Firefox).
  • Status bar – why do you disappear automatically when I get close to you? You can be so useful and display so much useful info? Stop disappearing!
  • What with the Vista-style buttons? I have Win2k menus, which I find a lot simpler and easier on the eye. Why not inherit the window style?

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  • No Linux support. Hopefully coming soon.

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  • No addons supported or announced yet.

 

In conclusion, I understand the browser is very new and will probably go through many facelifts, UI changes, bug fixes, and enhancements but it has a lot to cover and if it's going to try to rival the giants, it better fix some things fast. I personally won't start using it until some addons start showing up, like the AI Roboform (AI Roboform has actually responded to this guy about such addon possibility) and Adblock Plus ones. However, for occasional browsing, it's great. Give it a spin.

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Artem Russakovskii is a San Francisco programmer, blogger, and future millionaire (that last part is in the works). Follow Artem on Twitter (@ArtemR) or subscribe to the RSS feed.

In the meantime, if you found this article useful, feel free to buy me a cup of coffee below.



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  • http://www.rooftopsolutions.nl Evert

    Funny, removing the homepage button is always one of the first things I do in firefox :)

    can't wait to see the os/x version of chrome though

  • Abin

    how can we export bookmark from chrome

  • http://beerpla.net Artem Russakovskii

    That's what I want to know, Abin…

  • Fergus Gibson

    For what it's worth, this link http://www.blinkx.com/videos/channel:itn actually screwed up my FF3 much worse. I couldn't even get the window to select and had to kill it in Task Manager…

    Have you contacted the Google developers to let them know there is a performance issue with that site? I am sure they would want to address it given their performance aim for Chrome.

  • http://beerpla.net Artem Russakovskii

    Fergus, I haven't contacted them yet as I'm sure they're getting barraged with millions of other more critical issues. If, however, they ever find this post, I hope they will find it useful and see if they want to fix the problems I found.

  • http://beerpla.net Artem Russakovskii

    Oh, and as far as the blinkx link, I'm more inclined to blame Flash for this. For one, it loads the whole media file into memory (I hate flash for that and many other reasons).

  • Matthew

    The lack of homepage button is by design: see http://dev.chromium.org/user-experience/toolbar

    Likewise, the buttons not being W2k style is down to how the window is used – it doesn't have a whole title bar area, it's just a tab bar that happens to have some buttons normally found in the title bar on it: http://dev.chromium.org/user-experience/visual-design

    I'm not sure why you need Tab Mix Plus for opening tabs from last session – it's an option in the Firefox prefs pane (at least, it is in the latest versions)

  • http://www.ardentedge.com George Toms

    Google Chrome is really fast!
    Now I can sort 200,000 records inside of Browser (Chrome) just in 1 sec. (Faster than Microsoft Excel):
    http://www.ardentedge.com/ex_if.htm

  • http://beerpla.net Artem Russakovskii

    Excellent test, George!

  • Lenovo Coupons

    I design for the web for a living and I'm concerned about this as well. I really do not need to write another conditional comment for ie6, 7 and now CHROME.

    I have been using it for a week now and seems to be pretty standard when rendering web pages.

    The first thing that I have done with Chrome is to look over all previous web site to make sure they render properly.

    Chrome so far so good… :-)

  • TigerTom

    For a new release, it looks pretty good. G00gle monopoly of the internet: getting closer day-by-day.

  • http://skateass.com/wordpress Eric

    Google chrome is a decent browser in my opinion, however it is still not up to par with the other more prominant browsers, its good if you are looking for a fast way to browse the web.

    In fact, here is a comparison of google chrome with firefox 3.

    Google Chrome vs Firefox 3

  • http://beerpla.net Artem Russakovskii

    @Matthew, TabMixPlus' abilities are much more advanced. I've lost tabs with the default Firefox handler that TMP never loses. Also, undo close tab is priceless (ctrl-F11).

  • abercrombie

    Saw an interesting study with a forensics expert. They tried to recover data from Incognito Mode but couldn't find anything. Google has some smart engineers working on this thing.

    http://www.surfchrome.com/index.php/home/news-list-mode/70-incognito-mode-forensics

  • http://coderblues.com Coder Blues

    Nice review of Chrome. Thanks for taking the time to post it.

  • Nate

    I uninstalled Chrome and it took all of my FireFox 3 bookmarks with it. No luck recovering them so far. Any thoughts would be helpful. FF import and restore options do not work. I may have to pull them from a system back up…

  • http://www.mysoogal.com mysoogal

    http://www.mysoogal.gotdns.org/?p=1519

    chrome installed in windows 2000 Sp4

  • http://beerpla.net Artem Russakovskii

    @Nate
    I believe Firefox stores a backup of all bookmarks in the profile folder. You can try to look for it there.

  • Gordon

    I bought a mac some while back (with windows via BC) I downloaded Chrome on the second day and now spend more time on the windows version than mac!

    The speed is phenomenal. I have as many bookmarks as I wish (plus I can drag my most used URL's on to the bookmark bar) The downloads are rapid, in fact for an ordinary user like me it is fantastic and the sooner they get the mac version the better. Not fussed about addons so not really worried there, but if you look around at the various geek blogs you would be surprised at the extras already being developed. Still much to do with development but is certainly my browser for the future.

  • Dom

    Great review!
    Although at the moment chrome is a little glitchy and does not have too many features, i believe that with a little more time to develop, it may compete or even pass firefox as the number 1 browser.

  • http://skateass.com/wordpress/why-is-vuze-40-better-than-all-other-torrents-apps/ Vuze

    Splendid post, I just came across the updated version.

    Chrome is pretty decent at the moment and is a pretty nifty and easy to use web browser, I still have to prefer opera and flock though.

    Cheers
    Vuze

  • http://beerpla.net Artem Russakovskii

    Well, Chrome is now out of beta, as per Google's announcement last week. I now use it as a primary browser on my HTPC machine.

  • Comcast Deals

    I like the speed and ease of use with Chrome but I dislike that the standard GOOGLE TOOLBAR is not available on GOOGLE'S OWN BROWSER!!!!

  • ZK

    The software is still prone to crashes, but the nice thing about Chrome crashes is that they stay isolated. Firefox still crashes on me with fairly alarming frequency (I’m using the latest stable build, not the beta preview), and when it does, it takes all 15 of my open tabs with it. Yes, “Restore previous session” generally eliminates any cause for concern, but I still find it irksome.

  • alex

    i agree with ZK about the sofware is still prone to crashes, but the nice thing about chrome crashes is that they stay isolated…

  • Mrs. Christian

    I've been awaiting Google's web browser's extensions for quite a while. In a day I've worked with 5 of them and am awed with them. Firefox 3 has started to slowed with use & the extensions are welcomed with open arms.

  • Alex

    Well I just decided to go back to Firefox after using Chrome release 4.0.249.78 (Windows) for about two weeks. I wanted to see what Chrome had to offer, and to be honest, besides a slick 'surface' there's really nothing all that impressive or stable about it. The final straw came just a few hours ago when I was browsing the net for some adult content, and before I knew it all that jazz about sandboxing was clearly all talk but no walk! I had about 5 or 6 tabs open (not sure but I know it was at least 5) and when I clicked on a link, voila, there came that prompt to click here to stay on the page or click cancel to leave but I know that those prompts are generally not really system prompts… so, finally I had the chance to see if I could just kill the process for that single tab, so I went into my task manager, isolated the process and lo and behold, all the tabs closed! So much for "sandboxing"! I only closed that one process, so why did all the other processes (tabs) close as well? Any who, that was the only truly cool thing about Chrome but given that it failed 100% of the time (the first time it failed equals 100% to me) I decided to return to the tested-and-true Firefox. At least with FF I can use xmarks again and back-up my passwords and bookmarks.