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back to article Chrome: A new force for web applications?

Google's new web browser has provoked an orgy of comment almost rivalling that for a new trinket from Apple. There's plenty of froth, but for once the interest is justified. This is not just a browser: it is a vehicle for delivering web applications, and it significantly changes the balance of power between those trying to build …

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Stop

Yawn,, Chrome is last years news...

Opera already does 3D Canvas using OpenGl

http://my.opera.com/timjoh/blog/2007/11/13/taking-the-canvas-to-another-dimension

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Linux

more variations to split developers

"Finally, one significant Chrome advantage for developers is that all the code can easily be downloaded. Configuring a machine to build some open source projects successfully can be a challenge. But Chromium is delivered as a Visual Studio 2005 solution, and its main dependency is the Windows SDK. This gives developers the ability to debug and profile code at the deepest level."

... are you suggesting that this is better than the way you can code most other web languages, that is on any platform with a text editor, or using a common IDE that is available across platforms like Eclipse.

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JIT

I don't understand why Microsoft wouldn't JIT javascript. They've been basing all their other work since Visual Basic on JIT compiling, and their .NET language runtime is based on it. They aren't using any of that technology in their browser?

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Debug clarification

<blockquote>

... are you suggesting that this is better than the way you can code most other web languages, that is on any platform with a text editor, or using a common IDE that is available across platforms like Eclipse.

</blockquote>

Not all all; you can write your web pages / apps however you like. Chromium gives you the source code of the browser, so you can trace why some particular feature doesn't work as it should, or runs slow. Most developers won't bother - advanced coders only!

Tim

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Bronze badge
Alert

Deja vu

Didn't I already say that?

http://www.theregister.co.uk/2008/09/03/google_chrome_vuln/comments/

lol...

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Boffin

Eh Opera anyone?

I'm surprised that Opera wasn't mentioned more in this article, as from the looks of things this is how Google cooked up Chrome:

- Hire some Firefox developers

- Take a pinch of Mozilla code

- Stir in a homebrew of the V8 Javascript engine

- Bake on top of a Webkit rendering engine base

- Download Opera 9.2 and see what features it could clone

It's far from a revolutionary application, it's another browser, made from plenty of bits from other browsers and very few new concepts.

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K
Bronze badge
Joke

@jeremy..

lmao... stop it, your killing me.. lol..

.. the article is referring to the Chrome source code, so you can compile a custom version of it! .. not a webapp sourcecode.

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Coat

Safari..

Safari 4 preview which has been around for months now and already released in beta versions via seeds already offers similar things with the user being able to 'save' a site as a standalone application.

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Stop

Try reading the article

"... are you suggesting that this is better than the way you can code most other web languages, that is on any platform with a text editor, or using a common IDE that is available across platforms like Eclipse."

Are you suggesting that you'd write a web browser in a text editor?

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Thumb Down

Not impressed....

Tried Chrome, but uninstalling it.

Nice concept, but it thrashes my hard-drive to death - bringing up Task Manager indicates excessive I/O writes to the drive, even when just sitting on the same page it loaded 5 minutes ago. God alone knows what it's doing, but I've had enough of it.

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Don't be evil

I like the speed and the fancy tab dragging and dropping. However I still prefer Firefox.

I notice Google have placed a link to download it on their home page.

Last time I checked Google was used for 70% of searches. Is this not as bad as Microsoft including an icon to Internet Explorer on the Windows desktop?

Yet everyone just sees the words "Open Source" and "Google" and goes all warm and fuzzy, so I doubt anyone will care.

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Adblock support??

Looks ok, but can I load Adblock plus to it?

If I can't I will uninstall it

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Thumb Up

Revolutionary yes.

Its not the UI features that are revolutionary but the software architecture. Keeping tabs and plugins in their own process box is truly revolutionary in the production world. This has been written about for a long time but Google is the first to actually do it for browsers.

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Go

re: try reading the article

You tell 'em!

Real programmers use the butterfly method.

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Linux

@AC

Tried vim? Or even (eurgh) emacs? Most mozilla devs have :)

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Anonymous Coward

@ Patrick O'Reilly

Quite so, but the secret sauce lies in the Google brand.

Opera and Firefox are well-known to those of us who take an interest in our browser, but the average PC World customer to whom a browser is simply Teh Intarnets is pretty much guaranteed to have encountered Google in some form or another. And hey, what's this new "Download Chrome" link cluttering up the Google homepage? Best get me some clickin' on that. Voila, another set of eyeballs to fire ads at ^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^H user.

Now, it's not altogether unlikely that same user has a Gmail account. How long before logging into your mail brings up a message saying "For the best experience, Google recommends Chrome" with another handy download link? And then deploying code that doesn't play nice with Internet Explorer in any of its funky modes?

The application isn't revolutionary, certainly. But the possibilities its deployment opens up might well be.

PS: any danger of some icons depicting Google in angel and devil modes, El Reg?

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Canvas 3D for Firefox, too

https://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/addons/versions/7171 ...

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@marc

Quote:

Last time I checked Google was used for 70% of searches. Is this not as bad as Microsoft including an icon to Internet Explorer on the Windows desktop?

No its not.

Microsoft places Internet Explorer on your desktop by default whether you want it or not.

Google is offering Chrome for users to download if they want to.

<quote>

Yet everyone just sees the words "Open Source" and "Google" and goes all warm and fuzzy, so I doubt anyone will care.

</quote>

The reason developers are so happy is because Chrome is alot more standards compliant than IE will ever be.

Given the Google brand name, this could potentially start to eat in to M$s browser market share, therefore reducing the amount of broken browsers developers have to code for and, in the unlikely event that M$ get their fingers out their asses for once, they might actual code their browser to comply to standards, therefore making our lives easier.

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RW
Coat

Cynicism

"Web developers turn to Flash, or some alternative such as Microsoft's Silverlight browser plug-in, for several reasons, including rich graphical effects..."

ITYM "irrelevant graphical effects"

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Boffin

outside the box

don't care about the multiprocess thing. a web app should run in a separate window not just a tab anyway so google has merely enabled me to limit my web app to the same screen real estate as everything else i'm already doing on the web. which i can already do by dragging windows around.

also it seems like they should be playing up the sync facilities between local and remote storage, and that they aren't is telling me it's not ready yet. imagine working on something late into the night at home on your own machine, which eventually goes into sleep mode. you get to work the next day and your work, while not lost, isn't accessible like you'd expect with a web app. it's 2008 and people are still dragging their laptops everywhere because that's where their data is.

finally i just have an aching feeling that the grain-size of web apps is wrong. there shouldn't be a grain size. if you want to run open office from an XDM server or tetris remotely from your xbox there should be a seamless way to shift and split the processing, the storage, and the GUI around various devices with various capacities. obviously lag and bandwidth place practical limits on what you can do, but i'm disgusted that that OS and browser architecture is still the limiting factor.

not really flaming google, they've made a huge step in the direction of seamlessly distributed applications, but there is just so much further to go.

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What is Wrong with Google??

Just months after Mozilla releases a first-class free product that sets a world record for the number of free downloads, Google decides to move into the same market with a competitive product. We already have a stack of great browsers, and now that my freshly installed Firefox 3.0 is fully loaded with all my bookmarks, plug-ins and passwords, why would I want to even to beta test this Chrome creation? What on Google Earth are they thinking?

So what should Google really be doing, rather than releasing copycat products onto an already swamped market? Here are five key areas where Google could really be making some positive impact.

1. Bit Torrent traffic now accounts for almost half of the global internet traffic but as far as Google is concerned, all of this information might as well not exist. True, you can see what is on public trackers such as Pirate Bay or Mininova, but what about the tens of thousands of private trackers where the real action is located? For many of these sites, their main weaknesses are their search capabilities and their relatively small communities. As TV quickly converges with the internet, this is an area where Google could really become a major player. If it were my call, I would go for a zero tolerance policy towards file sharing on the main web search, and release a specialist torrent search software that focuses solely on this rapidly expanding sector of the market. If Google had put the same efforts into a private torrent aggregator as they have into a browser, I would be investing my life savings into the stock.

2. One of the company's best products so far has been Google Earth, but why has it not been taken to its full potential. What happened to the merger of Google Earth and the traditional travel guide-books using this revolutionary new perspective? Where are the KML links pinpointing the geographical locations of all the fantastic documentaries that are now available on the torrent networks? A virtual map of the Earth is a great place to start building a new business empire. We already have a good selection of web browsers to choose from, what we want now is a good Earth browser.

3. Some pundits have conjectured that the release of Chrome coincides with a new release of IE which by default blocks all ads, depriving Google of its life-giving revenue stream. Advertising in all its forms has always suffered from eventual market fragmentation. While the databases and software required to run this kind of ad placement might be ultra complex, the idea itself is not. Even with all the creativity of its best artists, producers and directors, the traditional ad industry is an continually developing arms race for getting the message out to consumers. Google cannot sit back on a few flashy logarithms and expect the success to last forever. Already many other ad placement set-ups are appearing, that will quickly lay siege to Google's rather precarious peak position. In other words do not expect online ad revenues to keep on climbing indefinitely for Google. From almost one hundred percent, the market share can only shrink. I only hope that Google will refocus on its core business which is providing information.

4. The real problem is that browsers have already reached their limitations in terms of the World Wide Web, mainly because it has been so successfully co-opted by business. Serious research using the internet has become more and more difficult as the web has become more and more crowded with media stories, blogs, wikis and social networks. Needless to say, research on many subjects can now be done better at a traditional, but well stocked library rather than online. Whatever its stock price, Google simply does not offer as good a service as a well trained, experienced librarian. Rather than competing for a small fraction of the browser market, Google would do better to simply make a larger internet available to more people. In fact, some might say that as the planet's default search engine, it is their obligation to make as much information available to as many people as possible. Thanks to it shareholder obligations, Google search remains more of an unimaginative Yellow Pages than a planetary library. Some have described it merely as 'Craigs List on steroids' but my own comparison would be that Google resembles a set of the literary criticism notes that are popular with students, while the actual texts of the reading lists remain in the Dark Web. Google has not bought forth the expected gigaflood of information that many had expected and hoped for. The contents of most libraries remain unavailable to internet search engines, as are most books, magazines and newspaper back catalogues. Seen as an assembler of information, Google is way behind other open-source projects such as Gutenberg and Wikipedia. Even though they introduced a very promising librarian type service called Google Answers, the scheme was quickly dropped causing an outry amongst its many adherents.

5. Why go head to head with Mozilla, one of the most popular and admired companies on the Net? If Google really wanted to make a mark, then eBay would be a far better adversary. The online auction giant has been stagnating for years now, as users tire of incessant price increases, and recently acquired subsidiaries such as Paypal and Skype become public enemies in themselves. Online auctions were some of the fastest growth areas in the net's history, and could easily be so again if Google had the vision to properly attack this project. Forget another browser and launch a peer-to-peer freebay auction site, with special attention paid to delivery networks, where prices have increased the most, and users will flee from Ebay like Michael Phelps escaping the Titanic.

The author is currently in Asia researching material for an forthcoming paper entitled 'The Exaflood and the New Rennaisance' and can be should be contacted at his out-of-office email adress which is wenshidi at yahoo.co.uk

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Anonymous Coward

HTA files

"Chrome lets you create desktop shortcuts to web pages. In addition, when you open a web page from one of these shortcuts, it opens without any browser furniture.

This really is a significant feature, because a well-designed and responsive web application will be indistinguishable from any other desktop application."

What's the difference between this and what IE does by opening an hta file? Serious question - I'm not completely au fait with hta files etc.

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Gates Halo

Link on the Google home page?

> I notice Google have placed a link to download it on their home page.

What does this do to the Holy Word Count Of 28 on the Google home page, which only two months ago they were defending in the face of Californian legal threats?

http://www.theregister.co.uk/2008/07/04/marissa_meyer_word_count/

What's that smell? Horse? Cow? Dog? No, it's definitely bull ...

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Paris Hilton

Some nice stuff I guess, but...

There's issues. I'm an Opera user for pretty much everything bar our company Sharepoint site (naturally, MS have made this so that it only really works with IE - it works mostly with other browsers but there's always a few features that won't). However, I have 14 years of tooling about the web and development experience behind me so inevitably IE isn't going to cut it for me after about 1997.

Our users on the other hand, they have no choice but they still find things to complain about and one of those things is one of our reporting services sites. They complain that it doesn' quite fit on the page and that the IE window makes it look crowded. Aha, think I, this nice Chrome lanuch-from-the-desktop-with-no-chrome thing might do the tirick. And it does, although since Windows rarely lets anything play nicely with NTLM that hasn't been written by MS, you do have to enter your credentials first time. But if you use the Save My Password feature, it really does save it and logs you in no problem next time (unlike some browsers and apps).

The down side? It really doesn't work well with Reporting Servcies pages as the formatting is all over the place. But, if this were fixed then frankly, I'd bet tempted to use it for situations like this. I wouldn't use it as a browser per se, but for launching certain web apps full screen with a convenient set of window re-size and close buttons its a pretty nice tool.

To whoever said it thrashed their hard disk - I'd suggest you have underlying problems because it sure as hell doesn't thrash mine one bit.

Paris because she'll appear without any furniture anyt time you like.

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Uhm - shiny!

>...World Wide Web, mainly because it has been so successfully co-opted by business...<

It's an Illuminati plot. If knowledge is power, and the internet is knowledge, then flood it with useless, flashing baubles of non knowledge. It's how they destroyed TV (even the BBC advertises now).

And, er, Chrome, it seems alright, nice and fast, but so is Firefox 3, and I'd almost forgotten how annoying Flash adverts are, so I'm sticking with Firefox for now.

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Stop

@wen shi di

cut and paste merchant.

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..and not a word

...about the key motivator behind big G's browser.

mines the one with "feck off out my clickstrem" on the back

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Stop

Chrome / Firefox - Tech for luddites.

All nice an new I suppose for luddites. However Opera users have enjoyed all these features for ages now.

SpeedDial came in about a year back, and Google have copied it almost exactly. Firefox's "Awesome Bar", Yep, Opera did that too, before Firefox copied it, and then Google copied it from them.

Opera is where the innovation is. If you want features that everyone else will be raving about next year:

www.opera.com

Did I also mention it's got 100% CSS3 selectors support, the highest pass rate on ACID3 of any released browser, it's the ONLY one of the browsers to have zero open vunrabilities, it's also the fastest in general Javascript benchmarking.

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Anonymous Coward

@wen shi di

"Just months after Mozilla releases a first-class free product that sets a world record for the number of free downloads, Google decides to move into the same market with a competitive product. We already have a stack of great browsers, and now that my freshly installed Firefox 3.0 is fully loaded with all my bookmarks, plug-ins and passwords, why would I want to even to beta test this Chrome creation? What on Google Earth are they thinking?"

Yes there are a whole load of browsers out there, but you could have said the same thing when each new browser hit the market? Indeed you could have said the same when Firefox first launched. It matters not what product you are talking about people enter a market because they think they can offer something new (or in a purely commercial market, which this isn't, they think they can offer the same thing at a lower price).

What on earth is Henry Ford thinking? We already have a stack of great cars and Ford decides to move into the same market with a competitive product.

Anyway, I'm sticking with Opera. Firstly because there is no Linux version around, secondly because they won't develop a proper version for Linux - they'll botch one up with WINE and finally because Chrome offers nothing new that I need. However I won't criticize Google for trying.

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Full screen

Opera is the only browser that really lets you browse with absolutely no chrome at all -- provided you are au fait with mouse gestures. It's well worth getting acquainted if your screen isn't as big as you'd like.

-A.

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Anonymous Coward

Welcome to the party Google.

However it finished a couple of years back.

Opera has been innovating your new features for several years now, and is bringing stuff now that Chrome and Firefox will be stealing next year.

If you want to run the latest tech, in the fastest, more feature rich and secure browser, you need to head Opera's way...

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Dead Vulture

Et tu

Is that Aero I see on the Vultures' desktop?

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Anonymous Coward

@AC Welcome to the party...

Which is itself a damning commentry on the browser "market". Opera is the best browser around and innovates where others copy, but has a tiny "market" share.

The vast majority of browser users, and we're talking at least three nines here, don't do any research and select the best browser. People either use the default browser (mostly IE, Safari and, yes, Firefox) or follow the crowd (Firefox).

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Re: Welcome to the party...

"However it finished a couple of years back."

Whoa, deja vu! Sherman start up the Wayback machine...

I recall almost everyone saying the same thing when IBM introduced an outdated hunk of junk they called a PC when Apple and Commodore had the market. Not to mention the horrid POS it had for an operating system.

It wouldn't surprise me if Chrome were to overtake Firefox in marketshare. Aside from developers, most people I know have never heard of Firefox (Heck, a lot of them think their operating system is called IE), but they've all heard of Google.

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Thumb Up

the plague

I hope chrome will fight the plague of web 2.0 - BAD javascript. Nothing wrong with .js, but can you web pushers hire some programmers who can take their fingers out of their noses and type with both hands ?

Every damn web page now contains at least one clot of .js, the page source looks like a ransom note. Of course, since the .js experts are perfect, they don't need to debug their masterpieces, and I get a page that takes 40 sec to load, lights up error indicators in my browser, and produces an "unresponsive script" warning. Every firefox fanboy should be introduced to venkman (it's a debugger stupid, you do know what a debugger is ?).

So if the ,js complier in chrome is as good as advertised, I should be able to open another tab while the page plays with itself, and read something else. I just want to read the paper, I do not want to criticise and correct bad programming.

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About .HTA files

Windows can run an HTML file in a chrome-less IE if you rename it to .hta - stands for HTML Application. Same as Chrome's desktop shortcuts? No. The idea of .hta is to let you run desktop applications build with HTML and script. The idea is the Chrome shortcuts is to run web applications that look like desktop applications. One of the problems with .hta is that it runs with high permissions - good for admin scripts, bad for web apps.

What Google is doing here is trivial on a technical level, but when you combine it with the Gears API and the possiblity of clicking a web button to "install" a browser app on the desktop, it becomes interesting.

Tim

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Alert

But Opera crashes more often than a test dummy

Opera may have done it -but its the least ever stable browser I ever used, bar none.

Firefox saved the day.

Question is -will Chrome rival Firefox; not for its useful add-ins for sure.

It seems to be a very simple no frills display program for quicky use only.

and the lack of an ad blocker is in their interest - but not mine.

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IT Angle

HTA's ...

"One of the problems with .hta is that it runs with high permissions - good for admin scripts, bad for web apps."

HTA's can and do run with full executable permissions and can do almost anything the developer likes — create and delete files, access, read and modify databases, change security and log-in details, etc. either locally, across a network or via http and all with the bare minimum of effort to make a fairly sophisticated interface using only HTM intrinsic components (not ActiveX COM objects) and some JScript or VBS.

They have no sandbox: they truly behave like conventional executable files and usually do run elevated to admin permission.

I have knocked a few HTA's together over the years and one of these was quite web-based (an app to control and modify a browser-based web application I had built) and it did in fact work surprisingly well in this capacity.

I think HTA's are a dangerous tool in the wrong hands (but then so is a pencil) but they do allow sophisticated interactive and useful tools to be put together quickly and which you would not be embarrassed for anyone else to see or use. In short they can look very polished and I bet, though have not yet tried it, that they could easily connect with the Gears API,

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