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Google Enters the Browser Wars with Chrome

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When a new browser enters the market, people generally split up into two categories. The first group thinks, "Great! Anything that moves us towards a more standards oriented environment is a good thing!" The other group, neither better nor worse, thinks to themselves, "Ohh gee. Yet another browser that I'll have to test my sites in. Enter Chrome. Today, Google officially entered the browser wars. No matter which group you fall into, you'll inevitably find yourself downloading this new browser.

If you compare the browsers of 1996 to the browsers of today, you'll find that, truthfully, they haven't evolved that much. Sure, they're more standards aware. But generally speaking, they've essentially remained unchanged over the last decade. Google is hoping to change that.

Wouldn't It Be Great!

The Start Up

If you haven't already, pay a quick visit to Chrome's site and download the browser. *Note - at this time, Chrome is only available for Windows. A mac browser will emerge within the next few months.

Google is one of the pioneers of the concept "Less is more". Their home page is laughably simple - but it works beautifully. Keeping in line with this branding, Chrome is deceptively plain, in reference to its UI. Open Firefox or Explorer and you'll find enough options to bury your grandmother with: File, Edit, History, etc. Chrome, on the other hand, simply has an "Options" and "Tools" menu, which can be accessed via the icons on the far right side of the browser window.

Browser Overview

Opera?

Not only did Google borrow webkit as its rendering engine, but it also adopted the concept of a home page specifically tailored to you. Many users prefer Opera's "speed dial" home page - which allows the user to quickly access their favorite sites. However, Chrome has taken it one step further. The "speed
dial" links on your home page will dynamically change depending on the most frequently accessed sites. Pretty nifty, eh?

Home Page Snapshot

V8

Quite possibly the most exciting feature of Chrome is that the developers built the javascript engine from the ground up. It is only natural that as our web applications continue to advance, the old engines must be rebuilt. Consider Flickr, Twitter, and Gmail, to name a few. Sites like these are leading the pack as browsers desperately try to keep up, like an old man who smokes ten packs of cigarettes a day. The old way is dying, and a new faster engine is being born. Luckily, keeping in line with Google's "We want the web to be better" philosophy, V8's core is independent of the browser. This means that future browsers can implement this engine if they desire.

In laymen's terms, v8 = faster Javascript!

V8

Separate Processes

You know the drill. You have eight tabs open in your browser - all serving a purpose - but suddenly, a plugin goes into destroy mode and you find yourself having to "force quit" the program. This is because when a plugin combines with an html document, they both run in the same process. So if one "shuts down", they all suffer. To compensate for this shortcoming, the creators of Chrome created a separate process specifically for plugins. Imagine this: In one tab, you're running an app that is extremely memory heavy. Rather than slowing down the entire browser, the processes in one tab will have zero effect on the others. This is because each web application is run in its own environment. Easily, this is the most appealing feature of Chrome.

Other Important Features

  • Gears. This essentially adds an API that will allow the browser to be extended.
    Gears
  • Sandboxing. This will allow for greater protection against malware. Constantly, Chrome will update its list of "dangerous" sites. If you happen to access one of these sites, you'll receive a warning.
    Sandboxing
  • Omnibox. Each tab will have its own address bar, called the "Omnibox". Not only will you be able to enter addresses, but it also offers searching, and search suggestions - based upon site ranking.
    Omnibox

How Will This Affect My Web Developing?

The answer to that question still remains to be known. As when any new browser is released/updated, I spent twenty minutes this afternoon checking all of my clients' sites. Everything worked perfectly! Keep in mind that Chrome is still using the webkit engine. At least for the time being, the main differences that this browser will bring are UI related. Even so, I look forward to the developer extensions that will surely be released in the coming months.

Will you have to completely scrap all of your knowledge because of what this browser represents? Absolutely not. If anything, Google is working to allow you to be even more creative when developing.

So What's the Verdict?

Though it's hard to decide in just a day, Google's Chrome is a fast, beautiful, and simple browser. Honesty, would you want anything else?

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