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A day with Chrome

Ali Kuru in apple, chrome, evernote, firefox, google, review, safari, Software, Web, mozilla

I have all of the main browsers installed on my computer(s), including Google’s Chrome (dev channel, v2.0.169.0). Nowadays, I’m trying to create a new theme for this blog, and I was using Chrome only to see how my design is performing on it.

Although I hated the installer and its registering of Google Update both as a service and as a timed job, I liked the Chrome’s look since its first release. I’m a long time Firefox user and I usually spend 5 to 7 hours in front of it every day. Yesterday, I’ve decided to give it a chance and switched to Chrome and ditched the loving Firefox for a day. I did my usual browsing including some standard emailing, roaming, searching, reading my RSS subscriptions, banking and I remotely accessed to my lab PC via LogMeIn. Also, I’ve browsed our internal FTP server for updates.

Here are my thoughts after the day;

Pros:

  • Overall design
    Chrome looks really sleek and, thank to overhead tabs design and hover only status bar, it gives you the maximal viewpoint. Never gets in your way while browsing, perfect.
  • Fast
    It is not just feels fast, it is fast! You feel the difference especially on heavily scripted pages like AJAXified webware like Gmail, java driven banking pages and LogMeIn remote control (although remote controlling was laggy with sidebar, was ok in full screen).
  • Handling of history
    Organization and accessibility of history is awesome, you can even text search in your whole history. Near perfect (see suggestions).
  • Internal task manager
    Chrome has its own internal task manager, which allows you to manually kill unresponsive tabs or windows, or even just plugins! This is great since in other browsers when a tab or page stuck on a crappy javascript code or a PDF if you choose to kill the application, you lost every open page instantly. Having its own task manager may be the one of the best features of Chrome.
  • Inline search has a counter
    Search as you type function also has a counter in Chrome and tells you how many instances of your search criteria are found on a page. Also Chrome highlights all matched text automatically.
  • Paste and go
    Well, this is not new. Opera has it for ages, I know. Still happy to see that Chrome has it, too.
  • Better pop-up blocking
    Looks like Chrome’s pop-up blocking is better than Firefox. Haven’t tested it extensively though. I’m frequently using a free web proxy to bypass great firewall of our university, and usually Firefox misses at least one of its pop-ups, which was not the case for Chrome.
  • Source code viewer has line numbering and better code highlighting
    Using line numbers in source code viewer is great, makes it easier to reference a piece of code when needed. Every major text editor has this function, so why not your browser? Well done.
  • Incognito mode is great for NSWF browsing :)
    Chrome has a mode called “incognito”, which can be described as “off the record browsing”. This is great for viewing NFSW stuff, you don’t have to clean your traces (history, cache, cookies etc.) after your visit; Chrome destroys everything right after you close the “incognito” window. Now, you can drop using an alternative browser as a safe house :)
  • Detach tabs to create a separate windows
    Since they’ve built on the same technology (see WebKit), Apple’s Safari and Google’s Chrome has a lot of things in common, such as detaching a tab by dragging it from the tab bar creates a separate window for that tab. This is in my Firefox wish list for a long time, and glad to see it on Chrome.

Cons:

  • Space bar checking “check box”s weird, because of “page down” action
    I usually use tab switching between input boxes while filling forms and use space bar to tick check boxes. In Chrome, when you jump to a check box with tab button, if you use space bar to mark that check box, space bar also sends you to lower sections of the page because of its primary “page down” function. Annoying.
  • No deleting from recently typed URLs
    I use my recently typed URLs coming up as I type at the address bar frequently on Firefox, and I like to be able to selectively remove the addresses which I don’t want to appear on the suggestions list (hitting the delete key on the unwanted entry removes it). This is not possible on Chrome as far as I see.
  • Didn’t like the highlighting of input boxes, selections
    I think using a orange colored border instead of a thin dotted border to show the which object you’re on is kinda overriding of designers choice of styling, didn’t like it.
  • Can’t directly open documents and files; have to show some place to save first
    Well, I haven’t figured out how, if it is available :)
  • Shift+Return triggers Google search, Ctrl+Shift+Return does nothing
    As I said earlier, I’m used to Firefox and I like its triggering of www.google.com after I write only “google” to the address bar and hit the Ctrl+Return, which also works in Chrome. I can also visit www.google.net by hitting Shift+Return, and www.google.org by hitting Ctrl+Shift+Return after I write “google” in Firefox, but not in Chrome. I know, they don’t have to support exactly the same keyboard shortcuts, they are different browsers, but I still expect these ones to work as other common shortcuts (such as Ctrl+T and Ctrl+W).
  • Address bar suggestions are not accurate for direct IP inputs
    I sometimes use IP addresses directly to access content on the web (i.e. for accesing my webservers’ stats), and I found Chrome’s suggestions for IP address entries are less accurate than Firefox, even I have visited the IP I’m trying to access several times before I expect suggestions. It gets better if you opt out “Use a suggestion service” option at the settings, but still far from being accurate.
  • No “about:config”
    Yes, Chrome has a lot of fancy “about:” pages, such as “about:memory”, “about:stats”, “about:network”, but it has no “about:config”, so no fine tuning. This is no good.
  • ** Limited support for userscripts**
    Glad to hear that it has support for userscripts, sorry to hear that the support is limited. Here is what Google System writes; A recent build of Chromium, the open source project behind Google Chrome, added support for user scripts. For now, the support is limited: Chromium reads the scripts from the hard-coded directory c:\scripts and it ignores the @include metadata which restricts scripts to one or more web addresses.
  • Firefox still has the best full screen reading
    Chrome’s full screen mode is nice, but not nicer than Firefox. Couldn’t find a way to recall the address bar for a new entry. Have to use F11 for new address input, even opening a blank tab with Ctrl+T didn’t help.

Here are my suggestions; Chrome needs a styling for feed and FTP browsing, and I wish if they had a mouse-over drop down address bar on full screen mode. Also, maybe I’m asking too much but I wish they had a OCR text recognizing mode for the history, which will allow user to do a text search for the images at the visited web pages. Evernote has this feature for your notes containing images, I’m sure you get the idea if you are using it. And, most importantly, Chrome needs extensions. It is obvious that there is no other way for stealing Firefox users :)

As for final thoughts; Chrome is cleverly designed, feature packed and innovative in many ways. You should at least spend a day with it, and then switch back to your favorite browser.

Curious about its performance against other major browsers? Here is a recent review for further reading.

PhD in Microbiology, head of digital at Kapital Media. Interested in geekery, gadgets and ever-evolving web.

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