posted by Kroc Camen on Tue 22nd Sep 2009 19:48 UTC
IconGoogle Chrome Frame is an open-source plugin that adds HTML5, Canvas, a fast JavaScript engine and more to Internet Explorer; in fact it just swaps out Trident with Webkit! Developers can opt-in to the feature on their sites via a meta-tag / HTTP-header and prompt users to install Google Chrome Frame if they don't have it. Update: Correction, they don't support the HTTP Header.

It would be an understatement to say that developers are fed up with Internet Explorer. It has been dragging its heels for so long that developers are wasting time debugging just for IE’s quirks, not least having to leave out targeting modern features like HTML5 audio / video and high speed parallel processing in JavaScript.

Google Chrome Frame basically embeds Chrome’s webkit engine into IE (6/7/8), replacing Trident. However, this is not a flat out replacement, but rather an opt-in experience that web-developers can choose for their site by adding a simple meta tag in their HTML. The Developer’s Documentation describes this.

Developers can then use JavaScript to prompt the user to install Google Chrome Frame, and once installed all sites that opt-in to the feature instantly get a standards-compliant, cutting-edge HTML engine!

Last week, I said that the only way Microsoft could stop the marketshare IE is haemorrhaging would be to replace the Trident engine with Webkit! It looks like Google is jumping the gun and taking direct action to address the poor state of IE and bring it up to a respectable level

Of course, this isn’t going to apply to all users of IE, but it is a nice gesture that allows even IE users to experience what’s possible with a modern rendering engine and features. If Google wanted to push Google Chrome Frame (and webstandards as a whole) they could install Google Chrome Frame as part of other Google Software; they’re already installing Chrome without asking anyway! :P

Frankly, it‘s sad that IE is so behind the times that developers have to adopt this rather extreme method, but if it drives the adoption of HTML5 and helps lessen Adobe Flash’s (and IE’s) grip on the Internet, then all the better.

This is still an early release and there are a number of remaining issues.

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