My thoughts on Google Chrome

When Google announced its new Chrome browser, I was quick to give it a try. Here are my initial thoughts.

Most programmers dream of building a product from scratch. Except for the few who like the challenge of understanding existing code and enhancing it, most would like to build something from the ground up.

Building something like a browser has its advantages. One has enough amplitude to reverse engineer, enhance, learn, innovate and dare I say, steal.

If you like a feature in a certain product, you may reverse engineer it or thanks to open source, steal it. You many choose to build on it. Google has done its share of feature stealing and enhancements. The most striking on these is the tab feature which was one of the Firefox browser's claim to fame.

By examining the trails of those before, you can learn from their successes or follies. Browsers before Chrome were built for HTML pages. As the web evolved, so did they. Google on the other hand has the luxury of building a browser that will cater to not just web pages but for a plethora of applications that exist today.

Google's innovation is ingenious.
  • The navigation bar at the top on the browser doubles as a search bar and searches as you type and provides you a list to search.
  • It has a nice tab to preview pages you visited recently. (You just have to be careful, your spouse or parent does not have access to your computer.)
  • Its task manager to examine the memory and CPU statistics to examine each of its tabs is simply a marvel.
  • The speed with which it can access and retrieve even 'heavy' web pages is astounding
  • And yes, it can seamlessly integrate with other Google applications like maps, google docs,etc.

Google has learnt from the follies its predecessors. It has kept its tabs running in separate threads. This way a memory hogging website or application cannot freeze either your computer or your browser. It can only freeze up a single tab in your browser that you could simply close.

Working with existing code may seem like a big advantage at first. As far as cliches go, your first impression may lead you to believe that you do not have to reinvent the wheel and have a lot of functionality for free.

However, as one gets deeper into prewritten code, it becomes a daunting task to understand the motivation of the person who wrote the code. This is inevitable, even if the code has been well documented.

Secondly, you may realize that you may want the end product to do things that the original programmer did not anticipate. To make it suit your needs, you may have to tinker with the code, hack it and in the process break its modularity and in the end create a maintenance nightmare for yourself, those who work with it now and those who will work with it later. The engineers at google have understood these facts and have built a browser from the ground up.

Coming into a marketplace that has been dominated by well established companies may be seen by many as risky. They bar has already been set at a high level by those before you. However, this is exactly the situation that Google thrives on. It did it through continuous innovation.

It began chasing Yahoo in the search engine space and ultimately winning that war, threw a vicious blow to Double-click with its Ad-sense technology, provided the Google Earth API to give us maps, previously unimaginable and so forth.

While many believe that it cannot displace IE or Firefox, I have faith in Google.

Google's innovation knows no bounds. Imagine telling the naive user about the advantages of multi threading. Google does this though an online comic book.

Having sung its praises so far, I must say Chrome does have its shortcomings.
  • I had a problem downloading Chrome on one of my other computers. After downloading and installing Chrome, it gave me an error on startup, which was not too informative.
  • Some website details like the honeycomb design on this one did not show up in Chrome
  • As I tried to uninstall chrome on the machine where it did not work, I was taken to a page to explain why I wanted to uninstall. Besides finding this a bit annoying, its multiple choice question did not display the reason why I wanted to uninstall it. -that it simply did not work.
Well, all in all, this is only a beta version of Chrome, a preview of coming attractions and I would say that it has done its job and left the rest for the 'official' version. Many, like me around the world eagerly await the official Chrome.

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