Go, Do, Be.


A day on Chrome

By: Chris Greacen - 09/03/2008
I admit it. Upon hearing Goog's announcement about Chrome's public beta, I threw up in my mouth (just a little bit). My learned-reaction comes from too many years wearing the QA hat at consumer-facing websites. The last thing the world needs is another browser floating around... another platform to support... another frigging pile of test-cases to down-prioritize and never get around to running.

I got over it. I spent a day surfing with Chrome, Goog's new browser. Here are a few first impressions.

Starts with a 475k downloadable setup program.

Once it's in, you can import Firefox or IE settings (including cookies) then it starts GoogleUpdate in the background (not surprised).

User agent: Mozilla/5.0 (Windows; U; Windows NT 5.1; en-US) AppleWebKit/525.13 (KHTML, like Gecko) Chrome/ Safari/525.13

Wow! It's nearly Safari for windows. It's using webkit, already in Safari and sounds like it's going to be used in android. Kinda makes sense to steer users toward a platform that's capable of making the leap to mobile devices.

As software goes, Chrome is handsome. In fact, Chrome is a pretty clever name since there is practically no chrome to the browser. Screen real estate isn't wasted on the borders, status bars, or any of the chrome-y bits that are likely ruining your browsing experience.

Under the hood, Chrome boasts separate process space for different operations. It's trying to get around the single-threaded way most browsers work (without clever webdev hackery). There's also a revved-up JavaScript interpreter... or virtual machine... or something. Need to learn a little more about V8.

The task manager is a nifty idea: show all the processes that are running: tabs, plugins. Kill a process if it's out of control. Be sure to hit the 'Stats for nerds' link on the Task Manager. Is that actually showing memory usage for IE (which also happens to be running on my system at the moment). Yes. Kinda neat. It'll show FireFox too (but not seamonkey!). Helps you 'place the blame where blame belongs' if/when things go wrong.

Chrome's memory stats.

Are you on Chrome right now? Here are a few interesting views under the hood:

My day with Chrome has been a surprisingly upsell-free experience. I see the Google Gears integration, but nothing compelled me to use it. I expected to be directed toward Google Docs... it never happened.

Goog probably gets all of your usage data. Chrome logs everything in your browsing history unless you're in incognito mode. The Google docs describe a scenario where a user might want incognito-mode to order a surprise birthday gift, but I think they meant to say 'download porn'.

"To browse the web without keeping a record on your computer..." I love that. You'll clearly be keeping records on other computers.

Lots more info in the comic book. Allegedly, Goog printed up a bunch of these things and mailed them out. Anyone have one?

Overall I'm impressed. It's snappy, handsome, seems to handle all the torturous pages I drag my browsers across. No heavy upsells. Seems to have a lot of open-sourced projects under the hood. I'll check back in a few weeks.