Monday, September 8, 2008

Google's Chrome - A Review

If you are here or if you are an aware IT professional/student, then there is no way that you haven't heard of Google's Chrome

For those, who still do not know what Chrome is, it is an open-source web browser that has been built from scratch by Google. Another feather in their cap, this browser promises a lot in its beta version that has been released for Windows Vista/XP SP 2 so far. The Mac and Linux versions of Chrome are under development and will be released soon.

Chrome offers you a world of rich features to play with. The major features are
  • OmniBar - The URL box in Chrome is called OmniBox as it shows you pages based on your web history, your bookmarks, popular searches, results of Google Suggest as you type words in the URL box. OmniBox can also be used to add a bookmark quickly. Thus, there is just "one box for Everything". Can be annoying sometimes, but if you do not delete your browsing history often, it tends to settle down the dust and offers you exactly what you want.
  • Incognito Mode - By default, Chrome saves all your web history on the local system and uses it for several purposes. The web history could be seen later also by anyone using your system. So, if you do not want your browser to keep a record of what you are surfing, then you can open a new window in Incognito Mode and the browser would not save any cookie related to that page. Looks useful, but there should be an option to configure Chrome to change this default behaviour of saving web history because some users might just not want to save all work they do because they work on systems that many people share.
  • Crash Control - Google claims Chrome to be more stable and safer than a lot others as a crash that occurs due to one tab would not effect other tabs of the same window. Traditionally, a browser creates a new thread when a user creates a new tab in a window. Chrome differs from the ordinary by creating a new process per tab. This means that separate data structures, more memory usage for each tab you open but that also means no dependence between various processes (or tabs). Google claims that it won't affect speed as much as we think it will because Chrome is based on WebKit, an open source rendering engine which uses memory efficiently. My experience with Chrome begs to differ with what Google has to offer. On my system, Chrome has CRASHED twice within a week of its usage and the fact that I was not running heavy web applications at that time is really scary. Also, I missed the restore session option that I have with Firefox.
  • Speedy - It is definitely faster than its counterparts like FF and IE. Firstly, it does not takes much time to open up and also the browsing experience for users with a slow net connection(like me) has improved with Chrome. Thanks to the new Javascript Engine V8, that Google has developed for the browser.
  • Chrome Task Manager - I do not know if such a facility exists with Firefox 3 or IE 8 beta version but it surely helps you to understand which tab is going "sad". It really treats each tab and plugins within a window as a separate process and shows the amount of memory used by each one of them.

Several things that don't work for me includes crash control and inability to scroll up when i use the scroller of my laptop. However, scrolling down works very fine. It gets a bit frustating not being able to scroll up and using the keyboard to achieve the effect.

The best thing that I like about Chrome is the comic book that they have released. The comic book proves the saying that "A picture is worth a thousand words". Its not only simple and easy to gather concepts but also entertaining, even for a layman like me, who is unaware of functioning of a web browser.

One thing that I fail to understand about Google chrome is that inspite of being Open Source, it is released for Windows first(something that can never be open source) and the Mac & Linux versions are still in the making...

It would have been definitely better, had Google released it for all OS's at the same time.
Perhaps the product was such that, Google could not hold it any longer after working so hard to develop it. They were desperate to release it and see the feedback and wild reactions. Still they wil miss out the feedback from the real open source community, which i believe do not use much of windows :-)

But one thing is for sure, Chrome is here to stay, no matter how many times it crashes....I won't stop using it :-)
And if you still haven't tried it yet, go here and download it right now. Happy Chroming !!