Google Chrome

Some information on Google Chrome was leaked today, primarily this comic.  I’m looking forward to actually trying out the new browser when it’s released.  For now, here are some things I find interesting.

Omnibar – This sounds a lot like Firefox 3’s awesome bar, but maybe with some improvements.  It also serves as the search bar, something that all other modern browsers have placed to the right of the address bar.  Not only that, but it looks like the browser will automatically pick up new site searches based on usage.  It’ll also do in-line autocomplete, but only for URLs you’ve actually typed.  That sounds like it could be nice.

Tabs – From the screen mock-ups, having the tabs on top does look a little more natural than the hanging tabs of other browsers.  I don’t know how it’ll actually look/feel once they get the rest of the window frame around it.  The new tab speed-dial feature looks like it could be helpful.  Mozilla’s concept work looks a little more powerful.  There’s definitely some room for improvement here.

Pop-up Handling – Instead of opening in a new window, pop-ups will open within the same window.  I don’t know if there’ll be any difference between pop-ups that are generated from a mouse click vs. opening automatically.  I’m really curious to see how this feels.

Multi-process – Each tab and plug-in gets its own full process.  So, if one web page is misbehaving, it won’t kill the rest of your browsing experience.  It looks like they may be giving developers multi-threading, but that may be the Gears feature.

Automated Testing – It sounds like they’re doing automated unit testing, and also doing some sort of layout tests against the 1,000,000 (or so) most popular sites.  WebKit (the rendering engine) is already pretty well tested, but this should help make sure they don’t introduce any new problems.  Since Google will be using a new JavaScript engine, and many sites use JavaScript to manipulate layout, the automated testing should really help validate their JavaScript implementation.

V8 – Speaking of JavaScript, it looks like they’re really trying to push it forward.  Their implementation is a virtual machine called V8 with some new features.  For one, they’re doing something called “hidden class transitions” which might just speed up object oriented JS code.  They’re also adding a compiler to convert JavaScript into native machine code which can run a lot faster than interpreted code (of course, if their compiler sucks, then it’ll still be slow).  I don’t really understand how garbage collection works in FF, IE, Opera, or Safari, but Google says that they’re doing it differently, more like a real virtual machine.  This should be iterseting.

Full Text Serach – You’ll be able to search the text of every page you’ve looked at and stored in your history.  Hopefully this will automatically exclude secured pages (I’m sure it will).  Firefox 3 already provides this for URLs and page titles, but I’d sure like it for the full page body too (I think).

Overall – I don’t expect Chrome to pick up much market share any time soon.  The market share that it does pick up is as likely to come from Internet Explorer as it is to come from alternative browsers such as Firefox and Safari.  [Edit: deleted MS gripe.]  My big hope is that Chrome will spur innovation in all of the browsers and everyone will win.  Oh, and if the JavaScript really is super fast, there should be some really cool applications and games popping up in the next year or so.

Questions – Will it have add-ons like Firefox?  Will different pages/web apps have their own browser toolbar buttons (for example, a Compose button for gmail)?  How easy will it be to keep your info private from Google?  How will it make web development easier (JS debug? DOM inspection? etc…)?

PS: I love the Dr. Horrible reference on page 1. 🙂

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