Google Chrome

See how well it integrates with Aero, it looks beautiful! And it\'s so fast!So today, I decided to give Google Chrome a whiz because everyone’s been talking about its javascript performance and man, is it awesome or what! I haven’t seen something go this fast since I tried Konqueror after Firefox 2, and Chrome just blows both of them out of the water. It’s unfortunate that it doesn’t work on Linux, but I do have Vista installed so I used that.

The Interface:

I love it. Oh god, how much I love it. The tabs are integrated into the title bar and there are no menus visible anywhere except on the address bar, back-forward toolbar so there’s loads of space saved. To search Google you just type it in the address bar the way you do with Epiphany and then select Google Search from the autocomplete bar. There’s no space wasted at all! As a matter of fact, let’s put it in a list, things that save space are:

  • Tabs on the title bar.
  • Search in the address bar.
  • Menus in the same bar as the address bar.
  • The status bar fades in when necessary then stays out of the way.
  • The favicon on each tab is the throbber and shows a different animation for when the browser is ‘connecting to’ a site and for when it is waiting for a response and downloading the page.
  • What about the find box? If you hit Ctrl-F a text box drops down from the top right for you to enter the search term. Neat.

Look at that! Now that’s really good work there.

The font smoothing is better in Chrome than in Firefox (I think it just uses Vista’s smoothing) except for some places. The new WordPress ‘Write Post’ interface uses a different way of rendering the text boxes and that seems to interfere with the smoothing so there are very apparent jagged edges where you enter the title. The highlight box around this text box is also missing, but everywhere else the browser highlights clearly the box that you’re typing into like Safari did.

If you start a new Tab you get a screen with little snapshots of your history, so there are little pictures with a title of the last few pages you visited, so you can easily restore them. A nice alternative to the ‘Undo Close Tab’ that Firefox has, because though it takes an extra step I don’t have to go through a stack of tabs before I get to the one I want.

Another really cool thing about Chrome is the nice smooth animations everywhere. You open a tab and it slides into place. You open inline find and it slides out of the top. I like these things, makes it nicer to use.

A nice little touch is that the domain for the page is highlighted in black and the rest of the URL is in grey. If you’re accessing a https URL, that portion in the address bar is green. Really neat.

Yeah, honestly I love this for just the interface alone. But there’s more.

Performance:

I thought Chrome felt much smoother on everything than Firefox 3. I searched for that digg comment thread in the screenshot because it has so many nested comments. Chrome took a few seconds to expand every single one of those threads as against firefox’s tens of seconds. To test if my feeling was right I ran the SunSpider Javascript Benchmarks for Chrome and Firefox and there were some pretty good results. For some of the tests Chrome was nearly 10 times as fast, and overall it was 86% faster. That’s pretty damned impressive. I don’t think my RAM was a factor either because I have 3GB and I think this test uses less.

Time taken in milliseconds, lower is better

Interestingly, Chrome seems to use many different threads, perhaps it is one per tab or maybe more. There are definitely many Chrome processes in the task manager.

Cons:

It doesn’t seem to have any sort of plugin architecture. The greatest problem with that is that I don’t have AdBlock. I bet that’s only because it would be really funny if a Google browser came with a plugin to block Google Ads.

Scrolling isn’t the smooth type, it’s the jerky type and there’s no middle-click autoscroll method. I really like that kind of scrolling. But that’s it.

In Gmail there’s a bit of a bug, open a chat with someone and then while in the box to type in to submit your chat keep hitting Tab. It’ll open up a space underneath and the top of the page will disappear into a region you can’t reach. Fix it by clicking on the chat box to minimize it.

4 thoughts on “Google Chrome

  1. Yeah, that’s a standard Webkit feature. You’ll see that in Safari too. Chrome seems to be using an older version of Webkit: Both Konqueror and Safari show a shadow on the h3 headers.

    It’s under BSD, I’m sure someone will build a plugin architecture.

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