Danny Iachini’s Weblog

My Nerdy Stuff

Google Chrome

The major buzz on the interwebs today is Google’s brand-spanking new web browser – Google Chrome.  Being the technology-lover that I am, I jumped on-board and installed it within the first 15 minutes of it being available. And since I haven’t had anything better to do, I’ve just been browsing the web all day, giving myself a good taste of just how it is.

The first major thing I noticed about the browser was how light-weight and quick it is.  From what I’ve been reading, instead of the browser running as one really bulky process, Chrome instead is a bunch of separate processes which are grouped together into a window via tabs.  One big benefit of this method is that if one tab breaks, only that one process must be terminated, instead of terminating the entire browser.  But the first thing that came to my mind when I heard about the separate processes was that it certainly had to use more CPU and/or memory resources.

<super-nerdy and totally skippable material>So I put together a test just now – I took the 10 tabs that I have open here in Google Chrome, and I opened each of them in Firefox 3.  According to my Windows Task Manager, Firefox.exe is using somewhere between 43 and 52% of my CPU (fluctuating very frequently) and 166,116 KB of Memory.  The sum of the 10 chrome.exe instances are using no more than 25% of the CPU (also fluctuating rather frequently… this video seems to be the reason, but I may have no idea what I’m talking about).  As for memory (where I foresaw the biggest problem), Firefox is using 171,384 KB as opposed to Chrome’s 10 processes totalling 189,880 KB.  If I did my math right (which I might not have, since the performance calculations in my Computer Architecture class always seemed flawed), that means that Chrome is using just over 10% more memory than Firefox.  Considering how much RAM I (and every other relatively new computer owner) have, I don’t think 1/100 of a Gigabyte of memory is really doing too much damage. </super-nerdy and totally skippable material>

Some things that I’m really liking about Chrome:

  • It’s own Awesome Bar similar to Firefox 3 — You start typing and it lists 1) bookmarks which contain what you’ve typed in the address and/or title; 2) common searches in common search engines similar to what you’ve typed; 3) “recent pages in history containing” those words anywhere — take a look at those results to see a really cool feature – very well-organized history, snipets of the page surrounding your words, and a screenshot of the page.  SUCH a cool feature!  One other great aspect of this Omnibar (I know I read it was called that somewhere today…) is that you can start spelling a search engine (Google, IMDB, WikiPedia, M-W.com, etc.), and it will prompt you to “Press Tab to search [whichever search engine starts with that letter]”.  So I can type “i->Tab->Princess Bride” and voila, I’ve got the search results from IMDB.com!
  • Everything is really smooth-looking.  Open a new tab and it slides open.  Close it and it slides away (like all the Mac and Vista eye candy — Steve Jobs probably can’t WAIT until it’s released for Macs).  But the smoothest thing is the ability to move tabs to their own windows.  Grab one of the tabs in the window and drop it anywhere other than the tab bar, and voila – a brand new window.  You can also drag tabs back into windows, re-order them, and (just like Firefox) drag a link to the tab bar in order to open that link at that location in the tab bar.  VERY cool stuff here.
  • Every textarea is resize-able.  At the bottom-right corner of each, there are 6 dots arranged in a triangle that show that it can be resized.  Simply click and drag those dots to make the textarea larger or smaller.  (Note – these are the mutli-line input boxes – single-line boxes cannot be stretched out at this time.)
  • The default homepage is really useful.  Open a new tab, and the page that opens contains the 9 pages you visit most (with screenshots, icons, and links), your bookmark toolbar displayed (which can be displayed any time by pressing Ctrl+B and hidden the same way), whichever searches you have accessed, and recent bookmarks.

These are just a few of the really awesome things that I have found so far in Google Chrome (and I’m sure there are many more to be released soon — this is just the very first beta release!).  There are, however, a few complaints that I’ve developed so far.

  • The very first thing I noticed was that my touchpad scroll area doesn’t work as expected.  The biggest problem is that it only scrolls down, not doing anything when I attempt to scroll up.  That is a really huge problem in my books, because I very frequently scroll back up.  Also, it scrolls at least twice as far as it does in any other application I use.  
  • One thing that isn’t necessarily a problem, but would be really handy – I would LOVE to be able to customize the default homepage.  I like the speed dial aspect, but I really don’t think the Google Chrome help page deserves to be on there.  I’d like to be able to pick and choose which I want to get instant access to.  (And I’d also like to add whichever other search tools I want.)
  • I haven’t been able to find any sort of way to organize my bookmarks.  Firefox 3 has a fantastic tool allowing you to put things into a folder hierarchy as well as tagging each bookmark with whatever tags you desire.  You can force bookmarks into nested folders, but there isn’t an easy way to move them around and I haven’t seen any such thing as a tag (for being a very Web-2.0-centric browser, this really surprises me…).
  • I haven’t found any add-ons.  In Firefox 3, you’ve got Extensions, Themes, and Plug-ins, and there is all sorts of user (and corporate) -created content for each.  Customizing a browser is something that I’ve come to require, so if I cannot get things like my RememberTheMilk for Gmail (blog entry coming soon!) extension, Foxmarks bookmark synchronization, and ways to customize the CSS on pages (either Stylish or GreaseMonkey), I will not be able to make Chrome my primary browser.

So far, I’m thoroughly enjoying a lot of aspects of Google Chrome, but without some obvious changes that are needed, it’s not quite as awesome a web browser as Firefox 3.  I’ll continue to play around with it and keep you posted.  If you take the time to try it out, I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments!

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September 2, 2008 - Posted by | Uncategorized

10 Comments »

  1. And you know how much I love keyboard shortcuts —

    http://www.google.com/support/chrome/bin/answer.py?answer=95743&query=keyboard+shortcuts&topic=&type=

    Comment by dannyiachini | September 2, 2008

  2. Also, I didn’t mention how SWEET the incremental search is! Ctrl+F brings up a (slickly animated!) little box where you enter your search term – it highlights all instances of the term, and highlights the current instance darker — then you can press Ctrl+G to find the next instance and Ctrl+Shift+G to find the previous instance.

    (And yes – this works in Firefox 3 — but you have to click “Highlight All” every time you open Firefox)

    Comment by dannyiachini | September 2, 2008

  3. Sounds cool, but I agree, the extendability of Firefox makes it impossible to switch at the moment.

    Comment by Alex | September 2, 2008

  4. The tab-dragging and textarea-resizing have both been features of Safari for quite a while, as has the find feature exactly as your second comment describes. I’m not saying Safari is a better browser overall (Chrome is only for windows at the moment, so I haven’t tried it out myself yet), but it does have those features.

    Oh, and Macs can add keyboard shortcuts to literally ANY menu item in ANY application. You would have fun.

    Comment by Adam Zydney | September 3, 2008

  5. Thanks for the basic run-down, Eyekeyknee. I’m sure extensions will come in time (who knows… maybe even by tomorrow). Right-click on the top blue area and go to Task Manager. Now that’s sexy. Especially when you’re an F5 bandit like some of us.

    Comment by Ghigiarelli | September 3, 2008

  6. Thanks for the performance specs Danny!

    What i like most about it is that everything is locked down in the browser processes to help keep malicious stuff from running through the browser.

    What i don’t like is that ctrl + (zoom) just makes the text bigger and doesn’t zoom the whole page as if it’s an image like in FF3

    Comment by Maley | September 3, 2008

  7. Wow according to this: https://dannyiachini.wordpress.com/2008/09/02/google-chrome/#comments is blazing fast. I think I’d start recommending this to those with older systems.

    Comment by KLEGER | September 3, 2008

  8. errr…http://news.cnet.com/8301-1001_3-10030888-92.html

    Comment by KLEGER | September 3, 2008

  9. Zydney – I’ve never been much a Mac guy (just because I’ve grown up on PCs for the last 17-or-so years…), but that’s pretty neat that Safari does the cool stuff too! And keyboard shortcuts are amazing. I really love AutoHotKey — you can code macros and all sorts of awesome things…

    Ghigabit – Extensions haaave to be on their way (one of the glorious aspects of open source!), hopefully sooner rather than later. And the Task Manager is definitely a cool touch… hadn’t seen that one! Thanks!

    Maley – I agree with the zoom not working the “natural” way — FF2 worked the way Chrome does, so I’m pretty sure it was a new innovation with FF3.. but it definitely is something to be worked on (wouldn’t surprise me for Google to fix it themselves or an extension for it).

    Klegmaster-Flex – Nice find! That’s a ridiculous margin of improvement!

    Comment by dannyiachini | September 4, 2008

  10. […] Abandoning Chrome Google Chrome is great!  I blogged about it on day 1, and I’m still standing by it – it really is a great web browser!  However, the […]

    Pingback by Temporarily Abandoning Chrome « Danny Iachini’s Weblog | September 10, 2008


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