Google Chrome Tailor-Made for Web Computing

By on September 3, 2008

Google Chrome LogoAfter two years of development, Google today unveils its open source web browser, Google Chrome (went ‘live’ at 11.46 PT, September 02 2008). With Chrome, Google outlines its vision of a next-generation web browser. Amidst a crowded browser market with players like Mozilla Firefox / Camino, Apple Safari, Opera, Flock and Microsoft Internet Explorer, the new Webkit-based browser does indeed offer a breath of fresh air.

Google Chrome is probably the first browser designed for the Age of Web Computing (George Colony, CEO of Forrester Research, called Executable Internet). It is created from the ground up to accommodate the demands and challenges of modern interactive web applications.

Introducing Google Chrome

The following section highlights what’s new with Google Chrome:

User Interface
Layout Structure
  • Tabs-on-Top Tabs are located on top of navigation bar.
  • More browser real-estate “File, Edit, View” menu bar not available. Options and controls are accessible via these two icons, located on the right-hand side of the browser. This translates to bigger ‘browser real-estate’ without sacrificing easy accessibility to functions and controls.

  • Agile Tabs ,which can be moved from window to window (and the tabs retain its state). The example below shows “Technology Review” tab being dragged. Drag by holding down your mouse left button and once released, the tab will open in a new window.

  • Integrated URL and search bar. Google called it omnibox. In addition to URLs of visited sites, omnibox can handles search, sites recommendations, etc. If you have used a search engine at a website, say CNN.com. The next time you type the URL, you can press TAB to directly search CNN from the omnibox.

  • Full text search over browsing history.
  • Window for App This window shows no browser UI; displays just the app. Below is a screenshot of Gmail app window.

  • Download status at the bottom of browser window, similar to what Download Status extension can do on Firefox. The downloaded file can be drag-and-drop anywhere.
Tab Page Display nine favorite sites, search ‘history’ box, recent bookmarked sites and recently closed tabs.

Security
Sandboxing Google Chrome SandboxStripped browser processes all its right; can compute but can’t write files or access sensitive areas in your computer.

Isolated “sandbox” involves confinement of browser of processes; the confined perimeter can be defined based on permissions – low, medium, high.

Closed browser tab to terminate rogue processes.

“Incognito” mode for more private browsing; similar to Safari’s Private Browsing and IE In-Private mode.

Stability
Multi-processes Google Chrome ProcessWith its Multi-process design, each tab is a separate process.

Each process is isolated with its own memory and global data structure.

A tab with rogue process won’t crash the whole browser.

Can restore crashed tab to state before crash.

Memory management Google Chrome ProcessWhen a tab is closed, the process is destroyed and the browser gets to reclaim back the memory.

Memory leak can be easily contained by just closing tab with ‘rogue’ process.

Built-in Task Manager to see which sites are hogging memory.

Moving from Site A to Site B are treated as two distinct processes. So, browsing with Google Chrome is a constant creation and obliteration of processes.

Speed
JavaScript Engine Google Chrome V8Google Chrome’s new V8 JavaScript engine enables dynamic code generation. It converts JavaScript source codes directly to machine codes, which in turn, interact with your CPU. This turbo-charged execution.

Also, its Hidden Class Transitions, in which objects with similar properties will share the same hidden class, enables dynamic optimization.

Source: Google Chrome Comic

When Google signed a marketing deal with Mozilla back in 2006, many thought Google will use Firefox to enter the browser market. Last week, the Internet search giant extended the deal to 2011.

However, building a browser from ground up makes more sense for Google because this approach is without path-dependent legacy, development assumptions, designs and other coded constraints. With a clean slate, Google can fully exert its creativity and authenticity when developing the new browser. This resulted in the development of multi-process architecture and V8 JavaScript engine. A quote by Albert Einstein aptly apply in this case:

The significant problems we face cannot be solved at the same level of thinking we were at when we created them.

In Search for Web Supremacy

“Google lives on the Internet,” said Chris DiBona, Open Source Program Manager (in Google Chrome comic). Google’s business is tightly-weaved to the Web and already has arrays of web-centric services, namely search, email, photo organizer, chat, map, online video sharing and interactive maps.

Currently, Google is spearheading two major industry initiatives – open source mobile platform, Android and open Web API for social networking sites, OpenSocial. With Chrome open source project, the search giant aims to influence the technological direction in the browser market and further catalyze the adoption growth of web-centric applications.

Better browser leads to improved Web applications performance and better user experience. This, in turn, catalyzes greater diversity, novelty and variety of applications / services to generate vibrancy in the Web ecosystem. A vibrant, bustling Web is, indeed, good business for Google.

Verdicts: Google Chrome offers a new kind of user-browser interfacing experience. I admire its ‘fluid’, agile and dynamic tabs, something other browsers don’t have. Google also rethink and remodel the way we interact with bookmark. Of course, last but not least, the integrated search-URL is smart and much more awesome than Firefox’s Awesome Bar. In a nutshell, Google Chrome is fresh, snappy and so much fun to use.

Google Chrome is available for download here (Windows only; Mac and Linux versions will be available soon).






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