Mmmmm, Shiny!

Browsers++, eh? Google have launched their browser, in beta form at least. Of course, “beta” for Google doesn’t always mean what it means for others – is gmail still in beta, by the way?

Anyway, ever ready to while away half an hour of work time looking at something new, off I went to the download page. A smallish (475KB) bootstrapper pulled down the actual installer, managing to find the necessary information about our somewhat complex Monte-Carlo proxy-server load-balancing  script without grief (presumably by digging into the IE or Firefox connection settings) and ran. Pretty pain-free, apart from this:

Getting warm, getting warmer, oops!

Getting warm, getting warmer, oops!

Ah well, it is a beta, after all. And it appears that the crash may have occurred at the run-after-install bit, since by the time it happened I had a desktop icon that seems – touch wood – to work.

A little detail that I really appreciated was that the install option page included a setting to make Chrome my default browser but it was unchecked by default. Nice one.

And then it just mostly worked. Some minor issues with font sizes, which seemed to randomly apply changes across tabs when I zoomed in or out using Control +?- or Control-mousewheel, but otherwise my regular stuff all seemed to render pretty well, internal or external.

It appears that the Chrome rendering engine shares the same standards book as Firefox’s – both render our IE-specific corporate intranet home page with the same set of “errors”. I tried looking to see what in the CSS was causing the problem but my limited skills weren’t up to the task. But while I was searching the source, which on a right-click/”View Source” request opens in a new browser window, which is nice, I discovered something nice. Nothing earth-shattering, but nice. I hit Control-F, which did what I expected, typed a few characters and the page was scrolled to the first found instance. As expected. Then I noticed something.

Score points for attention to detail

Score points for attention to detail

See what they did? No? Look at the vertical scroll bar. That’s a really nice touch. I like the way the “what to find” box organically grows from the surround too, and the animation is smooth, too. I suppose they could have made it slightly bouncy, in the way that Flash apps seem to like to work these days, although that can make one a little nauseous when over-done.

Oh, and another little plus on the view-source-in-the-browser thing is that links to, for example, stylesheets, are navigable. That removes a tiny piece of Firefox excise that I didn’t previously even know existed.

I’m sure there are all sorts of other little things. The address-bar within each tab may prove to be a boon, and the process-per-tab thing could be useful, although I can’t say crashing ranks very highly on my list of browser annoyances. We’ll have to keep sucking it to see.

I won’t be deleting Chrome. Neither will it be elevated to the status of default browser in the short term – I’m far too fond of my little set of FF add-ins. When Chrome has features that give me the capability provided by, at least, AdBlock, Firebug and Greasemonkey then we may be in business. But I think it’s going to be something of an uphill struggle until something really compelling and unique is offered. The thing is, Windows users who cared have already switched from IE to (mostly) Firefox and I don’t see a reason, other than possibly the bleeding-else coolness, to change again.

At least, I don’t see the compelling reason to switch yet.