Linked by Georgios Kasselakis on Wed 3rd Sep 2008 15:14 UTC
Google It appears that Google scored a PR success with their Chrome browser. In short, the promise is a web experience where web pages are allowed to behave more like desktop applications. This is done by boosting the abilities of common web pages in terms of performance, while also allowing 'plugins' to enrich the user experience of certain other pages. As it seems, the announcement shot at the heads of people who've been holding their breath for the fabled Google Operating System. However in the following text I will demonstrate that Chrome [based on what we are allowed to know] puts strain on the Designer and Developer communities, is not innovative (save for one feature), and copies ideas liberally from Google's worst enemy.
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RE: not harmful
by seishino on Sun 7th Sep 2008 21:56 UTC in reply to "not harmful"
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I can't help but fault the article from frame 1. Most of what is contained therein is splitting hairs about a comic designed to communicate some very technical concepts to non-techy users. If the author of an article genuinely complains that web pages are referred to as applications, they're just looking for a fight. Personally, I can't find anything redeeming about the article, except that it does point out some nice features of Opera and I.E. 8 that I didn't know about (because they didn't write a comic). Let me break this down.

The primary real complaint in this article is "I don't want another browser to test against." This, of course, goes against the idea that all browsers should adhere to standards, and those standards define what works and what doesn't. When we were just an I.E. and Netscape world, those standards didn't mean anything. Now with I.E, Firefox, Konqueror, Safari, Opera, Cellphone browsers, etc, standards have come a long way to the forefront of development. Sure, none of them quite agree on tables yet (!!!), but compared to how things behaved in 2001 this is an amazing improvement, driven by our multi-browser environment. Quite frankly, saying that competition in the browser market is inherently bad just smacks of intellectual lazyness.

They even complain that Google emphasizing debugging time is just going to put stress on designers.

"Google is willfully misguiding readers when stating [that multiprocess design leads to less memory bloat]" They, of course, explain this later on due to leakyness. The author dismisses this claim, stating that leakyness is a thing of the past, and all plug-ins have been perfectly vetted. Have we already forgotten the sieve that was Firefox 2? Have you checked your memory after surfing flash-heavy sites for a while? Personally, I've found Chrome to use less memory than Opera, though Opera self-bloats and diets in an attempt to maximize ram usage.

The author's solution of loading new web pages in new windows is false, in that these do not generally spawn new processes. Similarly, if past performance is any indication saying "Use I.E. 8" is not a good solution.

They complain that while the script engine will improve demanding applications, it will also "put a significant overhead on simple applications that do basic things."... Wouldn't the best-case scenario of simple scripts be exactly the time you'd have processor and RAM overhead to use? Given the choice, optimizing for the worst case seems like the best thing to do. "This is all meant to enable real heavy pages, not benefit the vast majority of use cases." In other words, why design a car that can go over 45 mph if the user is doing mostly city driving?

The author then complains that tabs on top breaks the traditional model... Menus that effect tabs that effect pages. As a designer, tabs in the middles of pages has bugged me for years. Tabs on top A: far better fits the physical model that people inherently understand, and B: structures the data heirchy correctly (url bar related to the page data, not independent of it!). Firefox's habit of putting tabs underneath the URL fundamentally misrepresents the information structure.

Author then goes on to complain that the "Omnibox" concept is already present in Firefox and IE8. This is not true. They don't take search data and relate what the user is typing in realtime. Opera allows you to use their URL box as a mini-command line to run special searches and do other actions, but that is an advanced feature that requires experience to remember. Also, it doesn't present search results inline either.

Author complains that the "nine most visited pages here" behavior is "identical" in Opera. This is not true. Opera clearly inspired this feature, but Opera's 9 behave like manually installed bookmarks... Like a page? Drag it to a speed-dial number. Automatically gathering and updating the most used pages is a nifty trick, and simplifies an otherwise manual process.

The author complains that "many decent sites are not work safe," and that if you don't want them potentially showing up on your home page you have to lose convienience by browsing in incognito mode. That, of course, is exactly what incognito mode is for. If you're browsing not work safe sites at work, you have much bigger avenues of discovery than people looking over your shoulder at your most visited pages. Even incognito mode can't stop your administrator from seeing your traffic. I can't help but feel like there is an agenda when the author complains that it takes a mild inconvienience to surf non-worksafe sites at work.

If you want to nitpick, the author also complains that Google is misleading readers by not mentioning how IE8 also isolates tabs by process. This is not strictly true: IE8 usually has fewer processes than tabs.

Overall, I can't help but feel that the author simply has a bone to pick with Chrome. There is nothing of substantive merit to the complaints laid out here, let alone anything that would merit the headline "Google Chrome Considered Harmful." Even if you accept the article at face value, which I urge you not to, the correct headline would be "Google's PR is Vaguely Misleading." Allow me to join the train of voices for an article thumbs-down feature.

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