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Google's speedy little red browser.
September 11, 2008 8:12 AM   Subscribe

You may have heard about Google's new Chrome browser (previously). Did you know that where it really shines right now is on speed, especially with rendering JavaScript? vs Firefox, IE, Safari. vs Opera. video vs Firefox. and also vs IE, Firefox on tests other than JS handling. Not bad for being in beta, at version 0.2.
posted by tybeet (73 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite

 
Did you know I'm feeding half my RSS feeds through Yahoo Pipes to remove posts with the word "chrome"? Enough, already.
posted by Leon at 8:14 AM on September 11, 2008


Of course, it will probably remain in beta for the next 5 years.
posted by tybeet at 8:15 AM on September 11, 2008 [1 favorite]


Did you know I'm feeding half my RSS feeds through Yahoo Pipes to remove posts with the word "chrome"? Enough, already.

Not everyone is subscribed to all the tech blogs you are.
posted by tybeet at 8:17 AM on September 11, 2008


No, it's one of their other programs...
posted by Wolfdog at 8:18 AM on September 11, 2008 [3 favorites]


First, the lifehacker test shows Firefox is faster than Chrome at rendering javascript. But why would I want to run chrome, instead of firefox? Does Chrome do something that firefox doesn't do? What is it's great must-have feature?
posted by Pastabagel at 8:19 AM on September 11, 2008


I am reading this in Chrome... I think I'm with everyone else: there's a lot of good, but there's quite a bit of bad too
posted by indiebass at 8:20 AM on September 11, 2008


Being in beta has nothing to do with whether it will or will not be fast. That's the core design.
posted by Nelson at 8:20 AM on September 11, 2008 [1 favorite]


The LH article has more substance in tests of general functionality. I noticed the JS test myself, but who knows, could have been a fluke or a faulty test. The other sites do enough specialized testing to show its way above the competition on JS.
posted by tybeet at 8:22 AM on September 11, 2008


Does Chrome do something that firefox doesn't do?

It does not yet have the copious amounts of bloat that first drove me from IE to Firefox and may eventually drive me from Firefox to something else.
posted by Krrrlson at 8:23 AM on September 11, 2008 [4 favorites]


Wake me up when the Mac version comes out, until then....zzzzzzzzzzzz
posted by HuronBob at 8:23 AM on September 11, 2008 [1 favorite]


First, the lifehacker test shows Firefox is faster than Chrome at rendering javascript. But why would I want to run chrome, instead of firefox? Does Chrome do something that firefox doesn't do? What is it's great must-have feature?

Yes, it can track you in Google's best interest.
posted by Muddler at 8:24 AM on September 11, 2008 [6 favorites]


Does Chrome do something that firefox doesn't do? What is it's great must-have feature?

Tabs sit in their own processes, so a dead tab doesn't take down the entire browser. Consequence of that is that it eats lots of memory. With Opera/Firefox's "restart with all your old tabs open" already in place, that doesn't seem like a great trade-off to me.
posted by Leon at 8:26 AM on September 11, 2008


Am I the only one whose Firefox has barely worked since the latest upgrade? Chrome is a godsend for me because I was about this close to going back to IE. Firefox freezes every time a site has a pop up now.
posted by whoaali at 8:27 AM on September 11, 2008


The only article about Chrome worth reading right now:
http://www.theregister.co.uk/2008/09/08/dziuba_chrome/
posted by C.Batt at 8:31 AM on September 11, 2008 [2 favorites]


Where's the chart showing how much of Chrome's vs FireFox's code is open?
posted by DU at 8:32 AM on September 11, 2008


Not everyone is subscribed to all the tech blogs you are.

If they're not, then they probably don't give a damn about chrome, and certainly not it's java script performance.

And by the way, some some benchmarks put Firefox's new Spidermonkey javascript engine ahead of google's V8.

And also, google has actually gotten into a lot of trouble over how much data chrome sends back to google. You know that wonderful "as you type" search bar that suggests things? every keystroke gets sent to google (although I'm not sure if that counts for plain URLs or not). And on top of that, it still don't work as well as firefox 3s "wonderbar"

Firefox forever!

Firefox freezes every time a site has a pop up now.

Have you tried reinstalling it?
posted by delmoi at 8:33 AM on September 11, 2008


If they're not, then they probably don't give a damn about chrome, and certainly not it's java script performance.

I'm not and I was interested.

it still don't work as well as firefox 3s "wonderbar"

Which is really saying something.
posted by DU at 8:35 AM on September 11, 2008


whooaali, you may need to perform a backup your bookmarks, full de-install, delete your user profile, and then perform a full re-install.

I've had this happen before on Windows... Linux, BSD, and Solaris... not so much.

If you are on MacOS X, I can't help you there... Lady TPSL runs on Camino.
posted by PROD_TPSL at 8:38 AM on September 11, 2008


I stopped using Chrome when I found out you couldn't drag and drop album images from amazon to itunes.
posted by nomisxid at 8:39 AM on September 11, 2008


Not everyone is subscribed to all the tech blogs you are.

If they're not, then they probably don't give a damn about chrome, and certainly not it's java script performance.


Well, I'm a case in point. I don't read tech blogs but I'm savvy enough myself to know that JS and Ajax support a huge portion of the web's spine and as such weigh largely on web-rendering speed.
posted by tybeet at 8:39 AM on September 11, 2008


Yes, chrome is speedy. It took me very little time to discover that it lacks ad blocking, and thus fails at the Internet.
posted by mullingitover at 8:39 AM on September 11, 2008 [2 favorites]


> it can track you in Google's best interest.

Preventing paranoia: when does Google Chrome talk to Google.com?

The EULA was one of those frequent, "WHOOPS! Where did all this we-own-everything-you-own-nothing language come from? WE'RE VERY SORRY AND WILL TAKE THEM OUT!" errors that crop up annoyingly frequently from pretty much every major player.

The software so far has behaved fairly honestly. Dwell on Google's violations of faith where they exist, not where you think they exist.
posted by ardgedee at 8:40 AM on September 11, 2008


Where's the chart showing how much of Chrome's vs FireFox's code is open?

DU, you can download and build Chrom from source.
posted by mkb at 8:45 AM on September 11, 2008


I like Chrome a bunch and it is indeed fast especially on GOOG's bloated webware (which I use much of), but until they fix the scrolling (can't scroll up with touchpad, can't scroll at all with tablet stylus), it's going to stay my second browser. Automated testing may get them rendering most sites correctly but it doesn't do anything for human interaction issues.
posted by seanmpuckett at 8:46 AM on September 11, 2008


Until they get an extension framework similar to Firefox -- hopefully similar enough that existing ones can be ported easily enough -- I'll have no use for it. I'm frankly spoiled now and when I have to use IE or Safari not having a choice about whether flash and .gif animations run just seems completely unacceptable.
posted by George_Spiggott at 8:51 AM on September 11, 2008


I've been using it as my main browser for the past week or two because I've been using my wife's computer and I'm too lazy to set up a different profile. When it works, it works really well. It's got some little things that it's lacking though (mainly stuff covered by plugins in FF).
posted by drezdn at 8:53 AM on September 11, 2008


DU, you can download and build Chrom from source.

Chromium. As they describe it: "Google Chrome is built with open source code from Chromium." One of the questions notes that you can't yet build a working UI, even on Windows, with the downloadable code.

Sounds like the chart really is necessary...
posted by DU at 8:56 AM on September 11, 2008


There are "Open source" issues with Firefox as well, in particular the graphics are copyrighted and the name is trademarked, so it's can't be distributed with Debian and other hard-core freeware OSes. Knoppix comes with something called "Iceweasel" which took me a while to realize was just a re-badged Firefox.
posted by delmoi at 9:01 AM on September 11, 2008


Chrome is great at rendering The Thread. You know the one.
posted by Rhaomi at 9:02 AM on September 11, 2008 [2 favorites]


Did you know I'm feeding half my RSS feeds through Yahoo Pipes to remove posts with the word "chrome"?

I can't figure out how to subscribe to an RSS feed in Chrome... It's really dumb. As well, when I migrated my FF bookmarks over to Chrome, not many of the RSS feeds worked. So I probably won't be using Chrome, except for Docs, Calendar and Gmail.
posted by KokuRyu at 9:05 AM on September 11, 2008


it lacks ad blocking

holy shit, really?
posted by matteo at 9:05 AM on September 11, 2008 [5 favorites]


I don't like the chrome icon- it's creepy and looks like the alien's extended eye in the 1950's War of the Worlds. It's also quite buggy.

I'm really enjoying Safari (I'm a windows user) It does everything a browser does- pages look lovely, good javascript implementation- bit buggy- but it is an apple product- so that's endearing I suppose.

FF3? My SO installed it on her computer at my insistence- and judging by how pissed off she is with me over it- I'm glad I haven't installed it on my PC yet.
posted by mattoxic at 9:06 AM on September 11, 2008


I tried Chrome and found it interesting. I suspect it will improve quite a bit over the next couple of years but in the mean time Opera is so much better.
posted by hojoki at 9:07 AM on September 11, 2008


matteo: It's not that surprising when you consider that Google makes the majority of its revenue via web advertising.
posted by Rhaomi at 9:15 AM on September 11, 2008


Nice clean UI, bit memory hungry, not many features, fairly robust.

Doesn't particularly appeal to me, but they're putting occasional download links on the Google homepage. So, I think that may help increase browser diversity, by attracting people away from IE, rather than just splitting the other browsers.

It would be a bad thing if Chrome ever achieved IE-levels of dominance, and Google thus owned the Web. But I very much doubt that's going to happen. You don't really achieve market dominance unless you either control the platform, or else you have a gazillion features so that everyone can get the one feature they really like.

So overall, I think it's a good thing.

I have hopes it will end up something like gmail. Gmail never got that many users compared with Yahoo and Hotmail, but it forced them to raise their game and massively increase the storage they provided. With any luck this scary competition will encourage the other browsers to sort out the JavaScript hell a bit.
posted by TheophileEscargot at 9:23 AM on September 11, 2008 [1 favorite]


I don't like the chrome icon- it's creepy and looks like the alien's extended eye in the 1950's War of the Worlds.

All I can see is a three-sided pokeball.
posted by tybeet at 9:28 AM on September 11, 2008


There are "Open source" issues with Firefox as well, in particular the graphics are copyrighted and the name is trademarked, so it's can't be distributed with Debian and other hard-core freeware OSes.

There's a rather big difference between "a harrowing, unholy, belch-like shriek emanated from somewhere deep within the chitinous exoskeleton of RMS, his eldritch neckbeard gesturing in such a way as to indicate that certain wording in Subparagraph 47a Clause B of the license renders the software nonfree and tantamount to fascism" and "cannot be built at all from the distributed source".
posted by DecemberBoy at 9:29 AM on September 11, 2008 [4 favorites]


One of the questions notes that you can't yet build a working UI, even on Windows, with the downloadable code.

No, the answer says that you can't build a working UI for either Mac or Linux. Unfortunately I don't have a Windows box with Visual Studio anymore so I can't build it myself, but the nightly builds from Chromium do have a UI. Unless you think it's likely that Google's build system links proprietary UI libraries that it doesn't distribute so that volunteer developers can't test a damn thing.
posted by mkb at 9:29 AM on September 11, 2008



Guess I'm the only one who uses epiphany.
posted by notreally at 9:47 AM on September 11, 2008


The Something Awful comic, in case the image gets moved.

Knoppix is based on Debian, which made Iceweasel.

The Register article is written by someone who has been noted for being clueless or a troll.
posted by Pronoiac at 9:52 AM on September 11, 2008


Notreally, notreally. I've got epiphany on my Fedora boxen where applicable. It's quite at home with gtk. More so than those XUL based browsers. Not that there's anything wrong with that.

Konqueror is quite nice in 4.1 as well.

Choice is good.
posted by PROD_TPSL at 9:55 AM on September 11, 2008


The Register article is written by someone who has been noted for being clueless or a troll.

Seems pretty level headed compared with some of the clueless "analysis" I've seen (and that it mentions).
posted by Artw at 9:56 AM on September 11, 2008


GONZO: As your desktop support specialist, I advise you to stop using IE. Run that executable out of the "browser" directory off of this little blue jump drive.

DUKE: What is this?

GONZO: It won't take much RAM. Just a tiny footprint. This browser makes Konqueror seem like Netscape 4.78. Google Chrome.

DUKE: Google Chrome. Where did you get this?

GONZO: Never mind, it's screamingly fast.

DUKE: Jesus, what kind of monster websites have you been downloading from? There's only one source for this stuff -- the, uh, labs at a certain Internet company.

GONZO: I know, but the link to this old browser site was down. It's from some of those open source freaks. They offered me other experimental browsers, said they would render pages faster than my box ever had before. I though they were kidding, so I told them I'd just as soon have Google Chrome ... or maybe just some fresh Chromium source code to compile.

DUKE (V/O): I could already feel the stuff working on my GMail -- the first wave felt like a combination of privacy invasion and stripped down Javascript frameworks -- maybe I should find something AJAXy to browse, I thought...
posted by adipocere at 10:03 AM on September 11, 2008 [6 favorites]


I'm waiting for netcraft to confirm it, thanks.
posted by bonaldi at 10:04 AM on September 11, 2008


What's especially funny is that the same week that Google Chrome was released, the long-awaited TraceMonkey code landed on the Firefox 3.1 tree. TraceMonkey compiles JavaScript to machine code before running, much like V8 (Chrome's JS engine). In some side-by-side tests, it looks like TraceMonkey beats V8 by about 20%.

Want to try it? Give a nightly build a try and follow these steps. It wasn't in last week's Alpha 2, but it'll be in Alpha 3.
posted by Plutor at 10:14 AM on September 11, 2008 [2 favorites]


Not so daring? Won't have to wait long. Firefox 3.1 is targeted for (believe it or not) the end of 2008.
posted by Plutor at 10:16 AM on September 11, 2008


delmoi: There are "Open source" issues with Firefox as well, in particular the graphics are copyrighted and the name is trademarked, so it's can't be distributed with Debian and other hard-core freeware OSes.
I have never understood how the flap over a trademarked name and a couple copyrighted images made any sort of sense, because after all:
Debian is a registered trademark of Software in the Public Interest, Inc.
Knoppix is a registered trademark of Klaus Knopper. Linux® is a registered trademark of Linus Torvalds in the U.S. and other countries.
The "hard-core freeware" people do exactly the same name-protection stuff that Mozilla does with Firefox. And all GPLed software and other intellectual property is copyrighted. That's how the GPL works.</offtopic>
posted by Western Infidels at 10:19 AM on September 11, 2008 [1 favorite]


I tried Chrome and it was pretty slick. It started up in a flash and rendered pages faster than FF3 (I have no data to back that up, just my first impression). Once there's extensions like adblock and del.icio.us (I know it's now Delicious, but I'm still quite fond of the old name) it'll probably be my main browser. I really dug the Omnibar and how you can pull tabs into the own windows and back. The one thing that took some time to get used to is how the tab bar is above the addressbar, vs. being below in FF.

And I'm glad they revised that part of the agreement about Google owning what you put through the browser.
posted by booticon at 10:19 AM on September 11, 2008


I'd rather trust my browser experience to open source than to a proprietary product developed by a big brother type corporation.
posted by banished at 10:28 AM on September 11, 2008


Did you know that where it really shines right now is on speed

I think it is slow and jerky when rendering video such as youtube, also one of Google's products. What's up with that? (anyway, it may just mean I need Flash 9, but all the other browsers work fine with the current version of Flash and video.) So speed - not so much.
posted by caddis at 10:39 AM on September 11, 2008


About Iceweasel: see Wikipedia & a summary. It's not just Debian being hardasses. To quote: "In February 2006, Mike Connor, representing the Mozilla Corporation, wrote to the Debian bugtracker and informed the project that Mozilla did not consider the way in which Debian was using the Firefox name to be acceptable."

In short: the term "open source" covers different licenses, which have a surprising amount of enmity between them, because they're so close yet not the same. Emo Philip's God Joke is relevant, I think.
posted by Pronoiac at 10:44 AM on September 11, 2008


@

This is the best point made in the whole thread, IMO. Working in the Web domain has raised my hackles time and again over JS across browsers. Now that Google has brought JS performance to the public sphere, I can only see positive things comming. I might actually stop avoiding JS coding.
posted by The Power Nap at 10:49 AM on September 11, 2008 [1 favorite]


Some people want to work at Google so badly that they pretend to self-link to it.
posted by roll truck roll at 10:54 AM on September 11, 2008 [1 favorite]


I used it at work for a few days and it would grind my machine to a halt hogging resources.

At home, did not have the same problem (so I'm still using it at home and not at work).

The home machine is beefier than work, but for a browser it shouldn't make that much difference.
posted by Bqaggie87 at 11:09 AM on September 11, 2008


Since it was a Google product I knew several things would be true. First, it would be simple and uncluttered. Second, it would be an early release and missing a number of features and refinements. But I also knew that it would be subjected to numerous iterations and would soon evolve into a mature product. Anyone who has followed Google's Docs & Spreadsheets over their development knows what to expect. For my own experience, I was sold after 5 minutes and have never looked back. I find it to be sleek, fast and stable. Use whatever browser suits you but know that Chrome has significantly raised the bar for architecture and performance. And once the benefits of those improvements become evident it will be Adapt Or Die for the rest of the market. Luckily for them, Chrome is purposely open source...
posted by jim in austin at 11:21 AM on September 11, 2008


@
Ok, that's a whole new low in quoting styles around here.
posted by bonaldi at 1:37 PM on September 11, 2008


I like the home page for Chrome (thumbnails of your most visited sites, plus a list of recently bookmarked sites). It's really handy. I also like the address bar or omnibar or whatever they call it because it's better than FF's awesomebar at guessing what I want.

Downsides: no flash. Upside: no flash.

Downside: no ad blocking. No real bookmark management (though I use delicious for this anyway). No way to completely block popups (they appear as a bar in the lower right and you have to close each one individually).

I had one tab crash hard the other day and the rest of them stayed up, just as advertised. I'm sick of FF stalls and crashes all the damn time.
posted by desjardins at 2:00 PM on September 11, 2008


jim in austin: But I also knew that it would be subjected to numerous iterations and would soon evolve into a mature product. Anyone who has followed Google's Docs & Spreadsheets over their development knows what to expect.

Google Docs and Spreadsheets is a mature product?

But pfeh, I might just have to do BootCamp tonight to try it out. I don't think this really matters that much. Most people don't know or care about javascript performance until they hit a website with glitchy and badly-designed javascript where it matters. Opera has been using its speed as a selling point for years without making much headway onto the desktop market. And where is K-Mellon with its MSWin-centric gecko?. But hey, Google has the name and can use it to push the market a bit on this point. (Except when it can't, as happened with Okrut, or Google Desktop for OS X.)
posted by KirkJobSluder at 2:01 PM on September 11, 2008


But the big question on my mind is whether Google's entry into the web-browser market means that they will stop being evil when it comes to developing their products around non-standard Mozilla hacks? (Which is one of the reasons why I don't use Opera.) Now that the shoe is on the other foot, are they going to change their tune and support standards? Or will it just be the case that Mozilla and Chrome become the first-class browsers leaving everyone else to play catch-up with their evolving hackery?
posted by KirkJobSluder at 2:17 PM on September 11, 2008


Chrome sure as hell had better be fast at javascript, since that's its whole purpose.

It's not a browse-and-surf-the-Internet product. It's a platform for running web applications.
posted by rokusan at 2:36 PM on September 11, 2008


KirkJobSluder: Google Docs and Spreadsheets is a mature product?

No, but it is infinitely farther along than what was first released. And since there is a constant stream of tweaks and new features rather than big releases I found it useful to subscribe to the various official Google blogs for the products I use. The Chrome blog is here:

http://blog.chromium.org/
posted by jim in austin at 3:07 PM on September 11, 2008


rokusan: It's not a browse-and-surf-the-Internet product. It's a platform for running web applications.

Yes, and Firefox is an XUL runtime platform.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 3:14 PM on September 11, 2008 [1 favorite]


Holy moly, Plutor, thanks for the comment about TraceMonkey. I've been using a JavaScript heavy web application for work that would take foreeeeeveeeeeeerr to complete some tasks and render everything but now it shows up lickety-split.

Unfortunately, this means that I can't browse Metafilter in between tasks.
posted by Mister Cheese at 4:03 PM on September 11, 2008


Does Chrome do something that firefox doesn't do? What is it's great must-have feature?

Two things thus far, in my opinion. If you use Gmail or Reader or Docs or Calendar or any combination of the above, you have two new and exciting things to play with, that they are building out in the future.

The first is that you can drop down the document icon beside the address bar and 'Create an application shortcut', which basically puts an icon on your desktop or quicklaunch bar or whatever that will launch you straight into the online application, ironically without any extra chrome, so it looks and feels pretty much like a local app.

This is a step towards the cloud OS that is inevitably coming, and you'll see a lot more about it in future.

The other part of the puzzle there is Google Gears, which is basically a local database that will allow you to use these apps -- like Gmail and Calendar and so on -- offline transparently, and they will sync automagically when you next connect, which makes the web apps effectively directly competetive for the first time to traditional on-your-hard-drive applications.

When Chrome is mature and is the default interface to what is becoming if not Google's Cloud OS then Google's Cloud Application Suite (along with third party stuff, clearly), the landscape is going to start looking very different. You can be certain that Microsoft has got pretty poopy drawers about all this at the moment, because they dropped the ball so completely on this stuff almost a decade ago, and because of the flawed, ill-considered implementations of these ideas they attempted (and timing, what with broadband finally getting some level of ubiquity in America), they lost the chance to dominate. I wouldn't count them out entirely -- they consistently make bad implementation decisions while Google makes questionable interaction design decisions -- but they've got scads of money to throw at problems. And at Jerry Seinfeld.

Chrome is more application platform and tool for Google to build out its Web App Suite plans for the future than just another browser.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 5:01 PM on September 11, 2008


I notice rokusan said more succinctly what I talked about above. So, yeah.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 5:01 PM on September 11, 2008


I can't say the same for Michael Arrington, who runs the Special Olympics of tech media, TechCrunch.

I was coming in to complain about YANGC post, but that quote just redeemed the whole thread.
posted by furtive at 5:04 PM on September 11, 2008


Am I the only one who finds that Chrome is no faster than FF on my PC, if not actually slower? (I mainly use a Mac, so don't regularly use Chrome, but I loaded it onto my son's PC and it is definitely less than miraculous).

But I am not a tech-head. Heck, I use Flock as my browser at home for most of the time :)
posted by Megami at 7:03 PM on September 11, 2008


Chrome starts about a zillion times faster for me than my admittedly plugin-laden FireFox. Subjectively, it seems to render pages a bit faster too.

With Privoxy, you don't need Adblock... in fact were I to switch back to FireFox for some reason, I'd uninstall Adblock and keep Privoxy running.
posted by Foosnark at 9:07 PM on September 11, 2008


C.Batt's Register link really is the best commentary on Chrome I've seen. If Chrome is going to help push web apps forward, it will be because of successful marketing, not any technical superiority to Safari or Firefox. V8 is fast, but early indications are that Tracemonkey and Squirrelfish are still faster. Their decision to put tabs in processes instead of threads is unique among the major browsers, as far as I know (though IE8 will do that too), but it's not going to enable any kind of new kinds of web apps, it will simply prevent badly behaved apps from killing the whole browser- a valuable feature, but not what I would call paradigm changing.

For me, moving the state of web apps forward at this point means "breaking the web." A lot of Ajax luminaries have been gnashing their teeth lately trying to figure out how to "rev the web", meaning increase the speed at which the web platform can be updated; much of this angst has been precipitated by the increasing speed of innovation in the proprietary web (Flash, Silverlight, Air). I think that getting new web standards deployed to over 50% of the market in less than four years is still essentially impossible, and the "open web" community needs to come to terms with that. A lot of people are holding out hope that Google Gears will be the solution, but it's just a plugin, and there is no way that Google is going to win a plugin war against Adobe, both because Adobe is willing to probably willing to throw at least two orders of magnitude more development resources at Flash than Google can at Gears, and because Flash has such a massive head start. Any truly compelling features that Gears develops will be duplicated by Flash and then some, I expect. As such, if the web community really wants to be able to deploy new features in a reasonable timeframe, web developers are going to have to become comfortable telling IE users to go to hell. Effectively, the web will have to fracture; sites that need to attract as large a userbase as possible will remain stuck on the IE6 platform, while sites that are willing/able to limit themselves to the cognoscenti will start using SVG, Canvas, advanced CSS selectors, etc.

That's why I'm a little dissapointed with Chrome; as long as the major web players insist on limiting themselves to the IE6 feature set, users will have no incentive to upgrade, which is ultimately the only real solution to this stalemate. I certainly don't think that Chrome should be incompatible with current web sites, and I'm happy that they're using the most innovative rendering engine out there, Webkit. But Google isn't adding any web developer API innovation of their own; I've gotten the sense that they chose Webkit because it was easiest to integrate and performed best, not because they're planning on using any of its unique APIs (they threw out support for the Javascript syntax extensions that Firefox and Safari support, instead choosing to strictly implement ECMA 262). Google isn't interested in upgrading the web platform, at least not through any vehicle other than Gears. It's a surprising position for them to take, at least from a business perspective, and I get the sense that they think that showing strong support for the web standards process is the best way to not be evil (or at least to not be accused of being evil). But, a la The Dark Knight, I think that in this case the web would be better served if Google accepted the criticism and became more aggressive about adding their own features to Chrome, or at least allowing their properties to offer advanced experiences to non-IE browsers, and letting IE users know that. Then again, maybe that's their secret plan, after they've already gotten 25% market share. That would be impressively evil.
posted by gsteff at 9:37 PM on September 11, 2008


A lot of people are holding out hope that Google Gears will be the solution, but it's just a plugin, and there is no way that Google is going to win a plugin war against Adobe, both because Adobe is willing to probably willing to throw at least two orders of magnitude more development resources at Flash than Google can at Gears, and because Flash has such a massive head start. Any truly compelling features that Gears develops will be duplicated by Flash and then some, I expect.

I agree with much of what you said, but I'm scratching my head here a bit: Flash and Gears are completely divergent technologies created to solve completely different problems, aren't they? If you were comparing Silverlight and Flash, I'd get where you're coming from, but I'm not sure what you mean here. Am I missing something? Gears is about offline storage of cloud-app data and synchronizing it, Flash is a presentation/animation toolset, at least traditionally. Is there a whole backend to Flash of which I'm unaware that is designed to do the same thing as Gears?
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 9:51 PM on September 11, 2008


Flash and Gears are completely divergent technologies created to solve completely different problems, aren't they?

Less than it seems. As I understand it, Google actually embedded their own Javascript interpreter into Gears (to implement Javascript threads), independent of the browser, somewhat similarly to how Adobe embeds an independent Actionscript interpreter. And though it isn't released yet, there's a Canvas implementation in the trunk section of their SVN tree (based on Skia, the graphics library they use for the Android and Chrome UIs). But I mainly meant that I think Adobe will see Gears as a potential competitor to Flash, even if their feature sets aren't too similar yet. Developers that are frustrated with the browser platform but still want to deploy to 98% of the public currently have to use Flash. If Gears became popular, got some community momentum behind it, and started to make Flash less necessary, I think Adobe would respond strongly. But you're totally right that they don't really compete yet.
posted by gsteff at 10:06 PM on September 11, 2008


OK, gotcha. Thanks.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 10:16 PM on September 11, 2008


Been using Chrome for about 2 weeks. Like its speed. Found out today that it doesn't support WebEx.
posted by sundancer at 11:53 AM on September 18, 2008


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