Google Chrome – Likes and Dislikes

I just downloaded Google Chrome and am going to try using it for some of my day-to-day web browsing over the next few days. Here are my initial reactions:

Likes

  • Fast. Very fast, and small memory footprint.
  • Each tab is a different process. This will make it very easy to any single tab that is using lots of memory, without having to close the browser (unlike in FF).
  • Tab positioning over the address bar (as oppossed to underneath in FF) seems more natural.
  • No header or footer bars. Do we really need to waste vertical screen space just to tell me the name of the program and reserve space for status messages? Nope. Here there is no header bar (functions like close/minimize are squeezed to the right side of the tab area), and status messages and urls in links appear in a temporary popup box fixed to the bottom left corner of the browser window, when necessary. Seems like a very good use of screen space.
  • Address bar has the domain name of the site appear in regular type, with the rest of the url appearing in a lighter type. It highlights the domain, which very quickly highlights where you are.
  • Real warnings for potentially problematic domains. In IE and FF, you just get a small red box in your address bar. In Chrome, when you go to a page that is potentially troublesome (example: loads resources from a domain associated with malware) you have to go through a confirmation screen before loading the site. Seems like a much better way of implementing this than the halfway solution in IE and FF that everyone will tend to ignore.
  • Useful built-in developer extensions (View Source, Debug Javascript, Javascript Console, Task Manager).
  • In-page search is slick and improves on FF’s implementation. You now see all occurences of the search term highlighted on the page at once, while maintaining the ability to enumerate through the bunch.

Dislikes

  • Non-existent bookmarking. I like my delicious add-on and bookmarks toolbar in Firefox as well as my different bookmarklets (Note in Google Reader, delicious, Seed Newsvine). It gives me easy access to the pages that I use frequently (I know that they are stored in the Chrome history, but often just clicking on my bookmark link is more efficient than going to remember the title or url, typing it into the address bar and sorting through the results to find the one that I want). I take it back. Ctrl-B attaches a bookmark bar to the bottom of the address bar. 
  • No page titles. Since there is no header bar, the page title is squeezed into the tab for that browser window, which in almost all cases is too small to see the page title. 
  • Clicking my mouse scroll bar doesn’t bring up the scroll pointer like it does in almost every other application.
  • I like having the search box separated from the address bar like it is in FF. 
  • No FF add-ons. No Firebug, Greasemonkey, Adblock, FireFTP or IE Tab).
  • No built-in support for RSS. I would at least have expected them to include an auto-subscribe to Google Reader.

This is what I can come up with after using Chrome for 3 hours. So I like it better than IE7 (haven’t tried 8 beta yet), though it does not beat out FF3 (yet).

Memory Profiler Eating Up My Memory

I have a Windows Forms app that has a very long and complicated initialization process. As the release is approaching, today was my day to try and shoft things around in the init, get it loading faster. So on recommendation from a few sources, I downloaded a profiler – Jet Brains dotTrace. Install and first profile went well. However, as I started to make more changes and run more profiles, I noticed that there were no improvements in initialization time. If anything, things were getting worse. Task Manager helped pinpoint the culprit:

If the numbers are too small, that is 1,241,596 KB. Yikes. Compare that with the second and third-place contestants, FireFox 3 at 174,584 KB, Visual Studio 2005 at 144,940 KB.

This is what happened after I closed the profiler (see if you can guess when that happened):

And I thought that Firefox 2 was using a lot of memory. I know that these programs are complicated, but I find it hard to comprehend how a program is supposed to help you track the memory usage of the applications that you are debugging when it ends up gobbling down over 1.2GB of RAM all by itself and making the computer basically unusable.

Nice New Features in Firefox Beta 3

At any one time during the day, I will have somewhere between 5 and 15 tabs open in my browser. Beyond a desire to stay near the cutting edge of browser technology, I also am constantly on the lookout for the best browser performance. That has led me from IE6 > Firefox 1.5x > IE7 > Firefox 2.0x. Though FF2 seems to be the standard browser for techies nowadays, after experiencing some extremely lousy performance, I switched to Flock. I went to Flock not so much for the social-browser features (some of which are attractive) but because that I had heard that it fixed a number of the many memory leaks that make FF2 stink so badly. It was better, but after a couple of weeks, I was still getting significant performance hits when opening a number of tabs (and I had practically no add-ons installed, so this could not have been to blame as it may have been with FF2). So now I am on Firefox 3 (beta 5). And while it is not perfect, I can definitely see the improvements in performance over FF2 and Flock. In addition to this, I have noticed a number of small features that combine to improve the overall blogging experience (or just make the program look nicer, which also counts for something).

  1. When you have more tabs over than can be contained in one screen, if you hover your mouse over the tab row in the browser header, you can use your scroll wheel to scroll right or left through the tabs.
  2. Redesigned download popup – looks nicer and is more functional (includes search, offers right-click on items, gets rid of the download location box in FF2)
  3. Remember password is no longer a popup. It is now an extension of the header that pops down unobtrusively. Since it is not a popup, it does not hold up your request, and you can wait and see if your username and password combo were correct before choosing to remember them.
  4. Smart Bookmarks – see your most visited webpages, recently bookmarked, or design your own based on browser history. (One thing I would like to know how to do is to define most visited by a time bound, for example: most visited in the last week. I would also like to have most visited domain, since right now most of my Most Visited list is different permutations on reader.google.com)
  5. Smart address bar. When you start typing in a URL, it displays a list based on pattern matching and giving higher weight to sites you have visited in the past. Kind of like intellisense. You no longer have to start entering the url from the beginning in order to have a page from your history show up in the address bar drop down. Now you can just enter any fragment from the url or title, and the potentials will appear.
  6. Resume a download if it gets cut off in the middle
  7. Other cool UI improvements (in addition to redesigned icons and buttons)

These are the one’s that I have noticed so far, but looking at the page on mozilla site, there are lots more where these have come from. Although this is not the perfect browser, it is currently my tool of choice and should be adopted pretty quickly once it comes out of beta.

Your Browser is Too Modern

What is it with websites in Israel and browsers whose names do not start with the words "Internet Explorer"? Though there is lots of web connectivity and presence, it seems that all of the web developers here were just never told that using Javascript that only works on IE is not a good way to leave your customers happy. Case in point: I just saw the following on the website of a Jerusalem Hotel while browsing with Flock/Firefox:

montefiore

In case you are reading in a text-only browser, It reads (my emphasis):

Error ! The current browser is either too old or too modern (usind DOM document structure).

This is followed by the header of a calendar, with no days showing, set to January 2000.

If it really was still January 2000, maybe I could understand (wait, no I wouldn’t – Netscape was still alive and kicking back then). But in 2008, to consciously choose not to support browsers used by a large percentage, if not majority of potential customers, simply boggles the mind.

Firefox, the Memory Hog

I like Firefox. I really do. But I am really getting sick of seeing things like this in my Task Manager:

Task Manager Screenshot

For all of its faults, the amount of memory that FF2 uses to perform simple tasks compared to IE7 is simply unacceptable. If they cant figure this out in the next few releases, I am think that they will lose me as an every day user (I will still keep it installed to use FireBug and the WebDev toolbar when I need to).

Google Finance Firefox Quicksearch

Want to have a quicksearch link to Google Finance (just entered Beta) in your Firefox Quicksearch?

Download this file (googlefinance.zip), unzip the files (not the readme.txt) into your C:\Program Files\Mozilla Firefox\searchplugins directory, restart Firefox and go.

Happy Hunting!