D'Arcy from Winnipeg
Solution Architecture, Business & Entrepreneurship, Microsoft, and Adoption

First Reaction to Chrome

Tuesday, September 2, 2008 7:44 AM

Normally I’d look at any new announcement from Google like a kid unwrapping a present on Christmas morning: they’re typically cool, and at worst good for 10 min of attention until I put it aside to focus on something else.

But their announcement of Chrome made me want to pick up my iMac and throw it out the window.

One of the biggest banes to a web developer’s existence has always been the plethora of browsers that we have to test our applications against. Keith Elder recently blogged about how CodeZone renders differently depending on which browser you use, so this problem is still alive and well in 2008. And now its getting worse.

Let’s go through the list shall we:

IE 6 (yes, its still out in the wild)
IE 7
IE 8
FF 3
FF 2 (? Maybe? Some that haven’t jumped to 3 yet?)

Did I miss any? I probably did. Let’s stick with this list though so I don’t delve into a deeper sense of woe and depression.

Here in 2008, with software as a service being one of the key buzzwords, and cloud computing being another, the web is poised to continue skyrocketing as a target medium for launching new applications. There are tonnes of new web apps launching all the time with rich user experiences, typically achieved through javascript and ajax. However, Flash isn’t dead and Silverlight is just emerging.

But as developers, we now have to ensure that we consider all the options for usability that our target market might engage. An application like Twitter can be accessed by all of those browsers. Same with CodeZone. Same with Gyminee, or whatever other online app we’re talking about. That’s a *lot* of testing. I know some software shops that have a Mac in their office for the sole purpose of testing out their web apps on Safari on a Mac…think about that: a purchase of an entire computer *just* to test out an app on a browser.

But back to the point of this post. Many will be hitting the beta download today of Chrome and oooing and aaaahhhing about it, not realizing that for web developers we’ve now added another variable that we have to take into consideration when developing and testing our app, especially since many users will jump on board simply because its a Google product.

For most users, they won’t see what the big deal is. For us, we realize that browsers are not all alike…that they have different rendering engines, different code bases, different features. If the 90’s internet was Pangea, then we’re seeing the continental drift of the internet happening before our eyes and the result will be more browser-specific web applications.

So go ahead, check out Chrome (hell, I’ll probably still download it and try it out). As an end user, I’m sure people will find lots to love. As a web developer, I’m not so enthralled.



# re: First Reaction to Chrome

I was linked here by ##twittertribe on freenode after having ranted for a few minutes about the same exact concerns. I couldn't agree more. 9/2/2008 8:28 AM | Andrew Powell

# re: First Reaction to Chrome

D'Arcy I share your concerns, although I am still excited about the performance, security and stability Chrome promises.

If we as developers throw our hands up in the air and complain every time technology changes, we'll have little time for anything else.

Just roll with it, or focus on a specialty that doesn't involve browsers. 9/2/2008 11:02 AM | Chris G Williams

# re: First Reaction to Chrome

That's the problem though: technology isn't changing, its just getting muddied with more options for the masses.

The more browsers that come out, the more web developers need to take into consideration. Instead of us being able to focus on properly formatted CSS and HTML, we have to focus on properly formatted CSS and HTML for browser-x, browser-y, etc.

Like I said, users will benefit from a new browser option for them to use...but it doesn't help web development when we need to ensure our apps, past present and future, will work with a *new* rendering engine.

And believe me...non-browser development is becoming more and more attractive. ;)


9/2/2008 11:15 AM | D'Arcy from Winnipeg

# re: First Reaction to Chrome

I have not heard the specifics of the browser just yet, but could there be a bright side?

Imagine if Google's browser were to be 100% standards compliant, Microsoft would likely have to follow suit thus bringing more stability into this realm.

That's all speculation and hearsay (wishful thinking?) of course...I guess we will have to wait and see....

9/2/2008 1:36 PM | Shaneo

# re: First Reaction to Chrome


GET A TISSUE HONEY! 9/2/2008 2:36 PM | Justice~!

# re: First Reaction to Chrome

@Shane: Microsoft is touting a high compliance with IE 8, among other proprietary goodies with their browser. So even if Chrome pushes Microsoft in the same direction, we wouldn't see those changes until IE 9...and that's assuming Google's browser is actually better than IE8 and not worse.

@Justice: I love it when you call me 'Honey' 9/2/2008 3:01 PM | D'Arcy from Winnipeg

# re: First Reaction to Chrome

Right D'Arcy, but that's my point. until Firefox came along Microsoft was content to let us all sit with IE6 and its many non standards compliant features.

After firefox woke them up, they jumped back into the game with IE7 and a rather quick push of IE8, and I'll assume (again though this is speculation) an even faster turnaround with IE9 which presumably will be closer to the W3C standard than ever before.

Without the added competition, progress would be moving along at a snails pace.

Just my 2 cents..

9/2/2008 3:13 PM | Shaneo

# re: First Reaction to Chrome

I'd agree if I weren't reading this post from Chrome right now. 9/2/2008 3:13 PM | Kyle Baley

# re: First Reaction to Chrome

It is an interesting project, one that I'm going to have a play with. I've read in the specs that it is using WebKit, which is the same engine that powers Safari. WebKit is/was leading the pack so far as standards support, so I imagine that Chrome should be fine. 9/2/2008 7:27 PM | Grant Palin

# re: First Reaction to Chrome

I was expecting so much more because I love GoogleApps, Calendar, Gmail and Docs.

I am underwhelmed with Chrome, and after checking it out for a couple of hours I uninstalled it. I thought it would integrate with those fab apps differently but I was wrong.

Firefox in my opinion is 100X better, chrome wasn't even noticeably faster. 9/2/2008 11:29 PM | Mark

# re: First Reaction to Chrome

I installed it, and by the end of a couple hours I uninstalled it.

I was expecting so much more. Firefox is 100 times better.

Should we be worried how easily Chrome was able to import our Firefox saved passwords? What does that say about the security of Firefox is a bigger issue than Chrome which is Internet Browser 101Lite 9/2/2008 11:40 PM | Mark

# re: First Reaction to Chrome

Although Chrome is new it's using the same rendering engine as Konqueror, Safari and a couple other browsers based on the KHTML / WebKit rendering engine. The CSS, markup and JavaScript should work fairly consistently in browsers sharing this engine.

The KHTML / WebKit has a history of being more standards complaint than many of the other browsers, even Opera... :) 9/3/2008 6:59 AM | Adam Kahtava

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