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Google Chrome: Technical pros and cons

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  • User profile image
    Yggdrasil

    I've spun this off into a separate thread because the previous one got a bit too big, and was also too political. I want a thread talking about technical merits, without the EULA business, IP tracking and so forth. Here are my impressions from using it as my default browser for a couple of days:


    * Installation 
    This went very smoothly, the download was fast and installation effortless. One annoying feature was that it defaulted to Hebrew UI, though it was changeable after installation. I hate Hebrew UI for software. I think Sven said it before in some other thread, but software should go by my existing UI language, not by my regional settings. The safest bet is always to go with the same UI language that the user has proven he can use.
    Another (very) minor point is the "Set as my default browser" option. Most browsers pop up the question the first time you launch them, while Chrome didn't. I'd rather it did, so I can tell it No (and "Don't Ask Again") if I want, but wouldn't send me looking for the option in the settings pages later.

    * Configuration
    The Options screen is divided into three tabs, Basics, Minor Tweaks and Under the Hood. I find this division meaningless and confusing, since what is a minor tweak for one is an arcane comand for others. Division by topic seems a lot more intuitive to me.

    * Everyday Use
    Chrome really excels in the one feature that's kept IE my favorite over FF in recent years - speed from click to usable page. For some reason, FF 3 takes about 3-4 seconds to start up initially, and this is one only 2-3 add-ons loaded. I don't like keeping browser windows open for a long time, so being to open a new window from scratch at sub-second speeds was my main IE bonus. Chrome beats IE 7, certainly IE 8b2, in that respect.

    Browsing speed is very fast, so it seems the DNS prefetch does the trick well, as well as the WebKit parser. Beats both FF3 and IE8b2. Javascript is fast, but very buggy. Most JS-intensive pages break in some way. Trying to mark text as Bold or Italic here on C9 causes the thread to jump back to page 1 for some reason. Lots of other small problems abound as well.

    One thing I miss is the bookmarks view. One of the primary feature I use in IE is opening a favorites group in tabs simultaneously. Chrome's lack of a decent bookmark menu is annoying, The "Other Bookmarks" button in the New Tab page, which apparently is supposed to show all bookmarks, is both unwieldy because it's available only in the New Tab screen (or as a toolbar, which I dislike). Additionally, it seems to have imported only a handful of my IE bookmarks.

    Visually speaking, I like the minimalist approach very much, but dislike the custom chrome used, especially in XP. As many have said, the fake Aero buttons are annoying, and the custom drawing of the title bar means that custom title bar buttons (such as UltraMon's) aren't shown. I would prefer a minimalist style that respected the host OS, rather than tried to pretend that it's host-agnostic. It doesn't work for Apple's Windows apps and it's what keeps Linux UIs from being annoyingly non-standard.

    It is still irrelevant for me for intranet apps, since it breaks our javascript and also doesn't support integrated Windows authentication

    * Summary

    I may have come off very negative in previous threads about Chrome, but that was mainly to try to balance out some overly excessive praise. I like Chrome. I think its main features are speed and simplicity, and since I don't use Firefox's wide array of add-ons anyway, I don't mind their lack here. From a purely technical standpoint, I think Chrome is a good - though not groundbreaking - browser, with good improvements in terms of speed and usability. I hope they don't muddle it up too much, but I also hope that they don't give us non-technical reasons to avoid the browser. Smiley

  • User profile image
    evildictait​or

    Yggdrasil said:
    The Options screen is divided into three tabs, Basics, Minor Tweaks and Under the Hood. I find this division meaningless and confusing, since what is a minor tweak for one is an arcane comand for others. Division by topic seems a lot more intuitive to me.
    ++ They should consolidate "Minor Tweaks" into the "Basics" tab, and call it something like "Options". "Under the hood" is a good name for most of the stuff there (DNS pre-fetching etc), but changing the language of an application isn't "minor" and changing the font should certainly not be grouped into the same sub-option category-window as changing the language.

    That said, the IE and Firefox options menus arn't great.

    Personally I'm really rather impressed with Google chrome. When I saw the "Google is making a browser" headlines I nearly audibly groaned with "oh god, yet another bandwagon for google to jump on. This is gonna kill IE in the same way that Google Spreadsheet killed Excel." But actually, having downloaded it, I would venture to suggest that it's actually rather powerful and it's bugs are relatively few.

    If nothing else, it tells me loud and clear the age old excuse of "we wouldn't have built IE/Firefox in the way we had, knowing what we know about them now, but it's too late, we've got too much code so we'll have to live with it and bug fix it until 2050" is a bit of a rubbish argument. My personal hope is that the IE team can see Google chrome and see that it's a real threat and get their act together for a proper release of a browser that is faster, less buggy and less garish than the stuff that they've made so far.

    I also like the idea that if you're not using IE, that doesn't mean you have to use Firefox (and v.v.) Hopefully by having 3 major browsers, developers will write to the HTML spec, rather than to one browser and bug fix it for the other one. With any luck, rather than starting a new browser war, Google Chrome may simply help to end the old one between FF and IE.

  • User profile image
    jonathansam​pson

    evildictaitor said:
    Yggdrasil said:
    *snip*
    ++ They should consolidate "Minor Tweaks" into the "Basics" tab, and call it something like "Options". "Under the hood" is a good name for most of the stuff there (DNS pre-fetching etc), but changing the language of an application isn't "minor" and changing the font should certainly not be grouped into the same sub-option category-window as changing the language.

    That said, the IE and Firefox options menus arn't great.

    Personally I'm really rather impressed with Google chrome. When I saw the "Google is making a browser" headlines I nearly audibly groaned with "oh god, yet another bandwagon for google to jump on. This is gonna kill IE in the same way that Google Spreadsheet killed Excel." But actually, having downloaded it, I would venture to suggest that it's actually rather powerful and it's bugs are relatively few.

    If nothing else, it tells me loud and clear the age old excuse of "we wouldn't have built IE/Firefox in the way we had, knowing what we know about them now, but it's too late, we've got too much code so we'll have to live with it and bug fix it until 2050" is a bit of a rubbish argument. My personal hope is that the IE team can see Google chrome and see that it's a real threat and get their act together for a proper release of a browser that is faster, less buggy and less garish than the stuff that they've made so far.

    I also like the idea that if you're not using IE, that doesn't mean you have to use Firefox (and v.v.) Hopefully by having 3 major browsers, developers will write to the HTML spec, rather than to one browser and bug fix it for the other one. With any luck, rather than starting a new browser war, Google Chrome may simply help to end the old one between FF and IE.
    evildictaitor said:
    I also like the idea that if you're not using IE, that doesn't mean you have to use Firefox (and v.v.) Hopefully by having 3 major browsers, developers will write to the HTML spec, rather than to one browser and bug fix it for the other one.

    Ah, good point! It absolutely kills me every time I see somebody suggesting the need for "IE Fixes" when I myself rarely, if ever actually, need to "fix" anything in IE. I write as close as I can to spec, using xhtml 1.0 strict exclusively for  doctype, and my life is wonderful.

    Perhaps adding even more variety in the mix (well, not really since it's essentially Safari) will force web developers to follow the spec. Once can only hope.

  • User profile image
    vesuvius

    evildictaitor said:
    Yggdrasil said:
    *snip*
    ++ They should consolidate "Minor Tweaks" into the "Basics" tab, and call it something like "Options". "Under the hood" is a good name for most of the stuff there (DNS pre-fetching etc), but changing the language of an application isn't "minor" and changing the font should certainly not be grouped into the same sub-option category-window as changing the language.

    That said, the IE and Firefox options menus arn't great.

    Personally I'm really rather impressed with Google chrome. When I saw the "Google is making a browser" headlines I nearly audibly groaned with "oh god, yet another bandwagon for google to jump on. This is gonna kill IE in the same way that Google Spreadsheet killed Excel." But actually, having downloaded it, I would venture to suggest that it's actually rather powerful and it's bugs are relatively few.

    If nothing else, it tells me loud and clear the age old excuse of "we wouldn't have built IE/Firefox in the way we had, knowing what we know about them now, but it's too late, we've got too much code so we'll have to live with it and bug fix it until 2050" is a bit of a rubbish argument. My personal hope is that the IE team can see Google chrome and see that it's a real threat and get their act together for a proper release of a browser that is faster, less buggy and less garish than the stuff that they've made so far.

    I also like the idea that if you're not using IE, that doesn't mean you have to use Firefox (and v.v.) Hopefully by having 3 major browsers, developers will write to the HTML spec, rather than to one browser and bug fix it for the other one. With any luck, rather than starting a new browser war, Google Chrome may simply help to end the old one between FF and IE.
    My gravest misgivings are whether the IE team are going to allow themselves to be flexible enough to allow change this late in the development cycle. There must be some sleepless nights going on over at MSFT becuase PDC08 is going to bring big announcements, and that is going to be either Silverlight 2, IE8 or both.

    My personal feelings are that IE8 has gone far too long down the development track to be changed, and commitment to the forthcoming windows OS will be a key feature. That is of course unless we get IE9 for windows next version. I don't see why anyone would use  half a billion in advertising (mojave etc.) if the next OS was not due for at least another two years.



  • User profile image
    Harlequin

    vesuvius said:
    evildictaitor said:
    *snip*
    My gravest misgivings are whether the IE team are going to allow themselves to be flexible enough to allow change this late in the development cycle. There must be some sleepless nights going on over at MSFT becuase PDC08 is going to bring big announcements, and that is going to be either Silverlight 2, IE8 or both.

    My personal feelings are that IE8 has gone far too long down the development track to be changed, and commitment to the forthcoming windows OS will be a key feature. That is of course unless we get IE9 for windows next version. I don't see why anyone would use  half a billion in advertising (mojave etc.) if the next OS was not due for at least another two years.



    The big question though....how secure is it? It might be new and fast, but IE and Firefox have been around for a while. They've fixed holes, grew alongside the growth of the internet, etc. I don't care how fast a browser is if it's going to let my passwords and credit card number be stolen by some JavaScript hole or something.

  • User profile image
    tfraser

    The new JavaScript features look promising and with any luck they will see further implementation throughout the browser ecosystem, ideally with less of the limitations and bugs they are burdened with at the moment.

    I don't think Microsoft needs to worry too much about Chrome. As has been stated before, it seems more likely that it will cannibalise Firefox's market share rather than Internet Explorer's.

    Also, I am of the belief that the most important area to dominate in the future of the Internet will be the platform on which applications are run, in preference to the browser through which they are accessed. So far as I can see, there are no real benefits to browser dominance when each variant ultimately does the same thing.

  • User profile image
    Yggdrasil

    A few updates, since it seems that a reasonable, balanced discussion does not an active thread make. Smiley


    1) Scott Hanselman writes on the new trend of multiple processes rather than threads, including info on Jobs that span processes. It seems that Chrome will open 20 processes at most, and start reusing them after that, which makes sense but  can be a bit hard to expect. 
    I have to say I'm a bit disappointed with the process independence so far. Both the :% bug that crashes all processes together, and the apparent interdependecy between them - I went to a site that allowed me to upload a large file (www.morecowbell.dj, specifically), and while my file was uploading, ALL my tabs were frozen, including tabs spun off to different windows. Seems that there's still work to do to prevent shared resources from bringing down the whole system

    2) I don't like the disappearing-reappearing status bar. Mostly a visual thing - the status bar, without borders, is all but unnoticeable, and when I do notice it it's because it's on top of text I'm trying to read. They should have it push the text up, like the IE-style Goldbar does on top.

  • User profile image
    wisemx

    I uninstalled Chrome after testing it...
    Funny thing is you get this message:
    Was it something we said?

  • User profile image
    elmer

    I just find it annoying to see GoogleUpdate.exe running on my system, as a result of installing a browser.

  • User profile image
    Yggdrasil

    elmer said:
    I just find it annoying to see GoogleUpdate.exe running on my system, as a result of installing a browser.
    Oh, here's another problem I've discovered - Chrome's download manager leaves a lot to be desired. Unlike FF's download manager or IE's annoying little standalone windows, Chrome's  downloads don't keep the browser alive. This means that if I start a download and then close all open tabs (which, annoyingly enough, closes Chrome completely without warning), the download is cancelled. Furthermore, there is no option to resume the download later from the Downloads tab. 


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