Friday, 26 September 2008

Why I like Google Chrome as a software developer

Chrome has a number of caveats, which have been described elsewhere very well. However, it also has a lot of very good features. First, the obvious, which many other reviews tell about, too:

* It starts very, very fast, faster than MSIE and Firefox on my PC.
* When a web page loads the Java runtime for the first time, it doesn't slow down other tabs.
* When something crashes, only one tab crashes. I only tried this once, but was very thankful that I didn't lose much.
* Javascript websites are fast. Really fast. If you ever use Google Docs or similar, you will never go back to MSIE or Firefox (unless they improve, of course).
* It autoupdates, just like other Google apps. This is very convenient for your old grandmother who could be scared by upgrade notifications.
* Reopen a tab that was accidentally closed is easy.
* Start page includes most visited sites, with screenshots.

Now the less obvious:

* It can create a "program shortcut", which starts Chome in app mode. This is interesting for software developers, because it makes a web page behave more like an application. No navigation buttons, no dragging into other Chrome windows.
* Incognito mode is very useful to testing websites, because it allows logins and cookies, but doesn't use the same logins and cookies as the normal part of the browser.
* Incognito mode can be very useful for presentations, if you don't want the audience to know what websites you have recently been using.
* When searching inside a web page (Control-F), the scrollbar indicates, where on the web page the search results are.
* I have two screens, and if I have a chrome on each, I can drag a tab from one screen to the other. Extremely nice. This is how most programs should work.
* It is extremely easy to add a custom search. For instance, I want easy access to our Mantis Bug Tracker, and it is extremely easy to configure chrome, so that I can just type "mantis 123" in the URL, and it will show me the issue number 123 in my mantis system. Even the start page automatically gets a mantis search box. In similar ways, you can easily add search engines for your CRM system, your intranet wiki etc. Type "wiki phone" and you have your phone list, or "crm smith" and you have a list of the customers named Smith.
* It automatically creates custom search engines for you. If you have visited dk.php.net and made a search, you can just type "dk.php.net fopen" in the url, and it will activate a search on dk.php.net for the search term "fopen". I renamed that search engine to php, so that I just need to type "php fopen" to get the fopen page.

Important tips when using Chrome:

* Use Alt-Home to switch a page to the start page.
* Use Alt-Left and Alt-Right to go to previous and next page (just like inside Delphi)
* Use Control-T to open a new tab
* Use Control-F to search inside a web page
* Use Control-L to type a new URL
* In order to add a custom search, right click on the URL and edit search engines.

9 comments:

Dels said...

you must be forgot about "Opera" or you haven't tried it?

some (if no most) features on Chrome (even in FF) was derived from Opera, i noticed some, like:
- Address bar inside tab bar (not outside like MSIE or FF)
- History page that you can see on Chrome blank page was a modified version Opera speed dial
- Navigation and looks mostly derived from Kestrel (Opera v9.5) only Chrome remove the menu bar
- Tab management (drag tab to windows, tab reorder, tab memory management, etc) was derived from Opera, only opera threat tab as separate thread and chrome threat it as separate process

And i bet there will be another Opera revolutionary features that will be copied by another browser (remember the trash can & browser session???)

FF actually not in race with IE (yeah IE sucks) but actually with Opera, even their new browser will be full featured browser (integrated mail client?irc client?newsgroup client?), more likely rival to Opera 10

And after all Opera developer was the initiator of Acid test, current Opera has already passed 100/100 Acid1, 2, 3 (not really due to slow performance, but sure in Opera 10) test

Try Opera for a weeks and share your thoughts :D

I was using Opera since it still on v5, when FF v1.0 out i feel disappointed since it was (bad) copy of Opera 6 (the version when FF v1 release was v7)

PS: maybe i've been to subjective, but try it and share us your (true) web experience

Lars D said...

I'm a bit puzzled by your comment - you don't mention anything that I need, and which I could get by switching to Opera.

Jeroen Röttink said...

>Use Alt-Left and Alt-Right to go to previous and next page (just like inside Delphi)

In Delphi this is back and forward in the history. If you have a shortcut for previous and next tab in the editor this would be fantastic. I don't know of any.

Xepol said...

1. The silent autoupdate is one of the single **WORST** features Google has - I removed the toolbar years ago when it started updating without my premission with no way to turn it off.

I don't have a problem with auto-update per-se, I have serious issues, however, with the inability to opt out. I would think any sane, knowledgable person would.

Unless you still believe Google's do no evil speil (or believe they share the same definition of evil).

Non optional forced auto updates are a single step away from installing unrequested software - a trick previously reserved only for Malware but now mainstreamed by other "cool" fruit themed companies.

2. Ya, the multi-app mixed in a single UI is a cool idea. Now I have to read through a bunch of C code to figure out how to do something similar in Delphi - at least I would if it wasn't poisoned with GPL (the mess of licenses involved, who knows which one might bite you in the butt or when).

3. Google is so search centric that they have forgotten that I may have made my home pages home pages for a reason (ie: ease of access). Annoying. It does load fast tho.

4. I wouldn't know about Java. I walked away from it 5 years ago, and so far have not found a single thing lacking about my online experience.

So ya, espcially based on point 4, maybe I am out of touch with most people, but that forced auto-update still seriously concerns me enough that I tossed Chrome out. Eventually, I will grab a fork that has it explicitly removed because it was indeed darn fast at loading - a major reason I do **NOT** run firefox.

Iman Crawford said...

Jeroen,
CTRL+TAB and CTRL+SHIFT+TAB will tab through source code tabs in D2007.

Morrow said...

Chrome is indeed almost a great little browser. All of the spying gets to me, however, so take a look at something I found the other day:
http://www.srware.net/software_srware_iron_download.php

IRON is a recompile of Chrome (all in english, though the download site and installer are German) with all the callhomes removed completely. Good stuff and the icon is even less annoying!

If you want Chrome without Google knowing every site you visit, give it a shot.

stanleyxu (2nd) said...

* When something crashes, only one tab crashes. I only tried this once, but was very thankful that I didn't lose much.

Have you even met a crash, before you write this item as an advantage? On more than one machines, the whole browser will be terminated immediately.

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* Reopen a tab that was accidentally closed is easy.

There is no menu item on context menu. Only a small section in home page, which named "Recently closed tabs". I just closed this page. But it does not show up.

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Chrome will be a great browser. But now it is still only an advanced toy.

Lars D said...

I consider it very positive, that we have a choice, and that we don't try to agree on our choices.

Jeroen Röttink said...

@Iman

Thanks for the help. Appreciate it alot.