posted by Thom Holwerda on Thu 26th Feb 2009 23:29 UTC
IconThe two major features of chrome when it was released was the multi-process design of the browser, as well as the focus on JavaScript performance. TechRadar has an interview with Lars Bak, the developer who headed the effort behind the v8 JavaScript engine in Chrome. He talks about the impact v8 had on the browser ecosystem, as well as why it is taking so long for Chrome to get third-party plug-in support.

It's fairly reasonable to assume that Chrome's focus on JavaScript performance forced other browsers to get off their bums in that division and work on the JavaScript performance of their own browsers. Bak agrees, and is happy that this happened. "It doesn't really matter because you also have to think about having one [fast] browser when all the others are slow is no good because all the apps have to be designed for the lowest common denominator," he argues, "So we want all browsers to be fast." And this is exactly what happened: all major browsers have poured considerably time into improving JS performance.

The reasoning behind the v8 JavaScript performance push is obvious. "In essence, what we wanted to show was that we could build a JavaScript engine which is scalable and have enough juice left to run future web applications," Bak said. He thinks they have achieved just that with Chrome. It is obvious that Google didn't want to just build a decent browser - they also wanted to push others to focus on JS performance for the very simple reason tat many Google products rely on good JS performance.

The biggest complaint about Chrome is the absence of an extension framework, something that made Firefox such a beloved browser. We already know Google is working on such a framework, but when is it coming? "We're working on that. As we said in the blog this is coming this year and it's certainly something that you want." Bak explains, "But when you are working on a new project it's important to focus on the basics, like our UI for instance, and I think other things come later and that's what we're doing."

I'm personally not very interested in an extension framework, mostly because, well, I don't use any extensions; I do use Flashblock on Firefox on Linux, but that's only because Flash has a tendency to crash, bringing down Firefox as a whole. Thanks to Chrome being modern and having a multi-process design, there's no need for such an extension. I just kill a crashed tab, and move on.

Still, it is obvious that it is a much-requested feature, but I do hope (in vain, I know) they release a build of Chrome without all that user-requested stuff, so I can continue to use Chrome for the same reason I'm using it now: no-nonsense, to-the-point browsing. I don't need my browser to make me coffee while gently rocking me back and forth - I need it to show web pages.

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