Google's new Chrome Browser

Yesterday I heard rumors that Google was planning to announce a new web browser.  Evidence of this new browser called "Chrome" was leaked (some will say) when Google accidently sent out a 'comic book' style media release about it.

Being a web designer, new browsers always get my attention because I have to be sure our websites work well with them.  I had just finished a harrowing experience with the new Internet Explorer 8 Beta (both 1 & 2) and was not looking forward to the kinds of problems I might have to work-around!

My main focus was not the new features but rather "Does it display my websites properly".  Our websites are more complicated than simple HTML pages.  We utilize javascript extensively to animate things, produce dropdown links, checking forms with AJAX, and as the engine of the TinyMCE editor that we use for editing your web pages.  I was very pleasantly surprised by how well this first beta worked!!  


Installation was a breeze!  I didn't actually time it, but it couldn't have been more than about 2 or 3 minutes tops.  I had to shut down Firefox (my primary browser) so that Chrome could import settings from Firefox but that was it.  All my Firefox settings including history and even stored passwords were available when Chrome started.  It was up just as if I had been using it all along.

Our Websites:

I looked for issues where I most frequently have had them in the past.  A few days ago with Internet Explorer 8 Beta I discovered that a couple of sites where I used MenuMachine an add-on product for Adobe's GoLive to produce dropdown menus didn't work at all  so I started there.  I'm happy to say that the menus on these sites worked just fine -- as well as everything else I tried on them.

Next I moved on to our own implementation of link menus and drop down links.  We've moved to this in all our new sites because we can dynamically generate them on the server permitting you to change your links yourself from your web browser.  Again with IE 8 Beta 1 this didn't work very well -- the dropdown menus were oddly separated from the main links, appearing down in the page.  This wes fixed in IE 8 Beta 2.  With Chrome, our links worked just fine.

Next I tested our Photo Album implementation.  We use javascript and AJAX extensively with this to implement drag/drop reordering, dynamic image uploads that allow multiple uploads to be started simultaneously, and a flash slide show that can dynamically be resized.  Again everything looked great.

From here I did a quick look at every site we host.  I have a web page that allows me to load all of our sites individually in a small iframe.  From this one page I can see that the home page is properly displayed for each site and I can easily navigate specific sites I choose.  From this, I'd say that anyone using the new Chrome Beta will have a good browsing experience with Fred's Used Websites!  I like the simplicity and open light look of the browser as well.  

Using the Editor:

Our website content editor, TinyMCE, came up immediately and at first appeared to work as well as Firefox.  I did find one issue, and by chance also had the same issue with IE 8 Beta.  When the edited page is saved, the image links were mangled causing the images not to display.  TinyMCE was appending the page URL to the image URL (i.e. /page/about.php/images/photo.jpg).  I suspect that TinyMCE is mishandling something here because it doesn't recognize the browser yet. 

I'm using TinyMCE running on Chrome to edit this blog page and for this, the combination works quite well.

Tools for the Webmaster:

Firefox has long been a popular browser for website developers.  The ability to use plugins such as FireBug are invaluable in debugging website problems.  This ability to explore the inner data structures of the browser, debug javascript, and modify CSS style and page content on the fly save hours of time.  Chrome has some of this already built in.  I could right click on an element inside a web page, click "Inspect Element", and bring up a popup window much like FireBug.  Unfortunately this doesn't allow me to change values as I can with FireBug.  Hopefully this will be fixed in a later beta or in the final version.

Another feature of Chrome is that every tab runs in a separate process.  When you look with the task manager, you see multiple child processes.  The current browsers today don't do this but rather run all tabs in a single multi-threaded process.  Google's goal is to provide protection from one web page loaded in a tab from locking up or crashing the whole browser.  With Chrome such a web page will cause the tab to crash but the other tabs shouldn't be affected.  Chrome provides a mini task manager that allows you to view all the processes, see how much memory and processor resourses are being used by each tab,  and possibly end one(s) that are hung up.  I haven'tcrashed a page yet and didn't take time to simulate one - but I expect this will become a valuable feature.


As a webmaster I am totally impressed with Chrome!  At this point, Chrome isn't available for Linux or Mac OS X.  Once these are available I believe Chrome will definitely give Microsoft's Internet Explorer a run for the money!

Frederick J Richart

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One Response to “Google's new Chrome Browser”

  1. Chrome...

    This is a comment to the blog at usefulmediaplanet

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