Content, not Chrome

Today, most of what we use the Web for on a daily basis aren’t just web pages, they are “applications”. These applications, which run inside our Web browsers, are increasingly becoming more advanced in their functionality and more interactive in their usability.

The Web browser acts as the core container for these applications, and it is critical to any Web application in terms of security, stability, speed, and operability. In the Web browsers space, the much speculated launch of a new browser from Google, called Chrome, marks a very important step in “remaking” the Web. I’m overwhelmed with what Google Chrome offers as a product, and excited too, because this will open up doors to even more advancements in the Web application space.

Google Chrome - Web Browser

So, what’s so special about Google Chrome, that’s not already there in existing (and time-tested) Web browsers like Firefox, IE, Opera, Safari etc. I downloaded Chrome (it is open source) and played around with it for a bit, and let me put it this way – Google Chrome is not about what’s there, but about what’s not there. For the Google team, the mantra became “Content, not chrome,” which is sort of weird given the name of the browser. It’s incredible that something as potentially game-changing as a Google browser has stayed under wraps for two years.

With Chrome, the Google team has really worked on two most crucial aspects in any piece of computing software: simplicity, and speed. The interface is darn simple, a true minimal design, and streamlined for power usage as well. In terms of speed, Chrome outperforms any modern Web browser. See, today’s Web applications are powered by client-side scripting and asynchronous client-server operations, all utilizing the JavaScript engine (pretty much). Scripting engine performance benchmarks have indicated that Chrome is at least 10 times faster than Firefox and Safari, and a staggering 50+ times faster than Internet Explorer. Chrome’s V8 scripting engine (written by a small team in Denmark) actually complies the JavaScript code to machine code for faster execution. Moreover, every tab or window in Chrome runs isolated (sandboxed) in its own process (not thread), which means that even if a web page crashes, the rest of the web pages in view are not affected. Chrome is secure too. It is based on the Webkit rendering engine, which powers Apple’s Safari browser.

Google amazes me. I sit here and wonder, isn’t this how it all should have been in the first place. Having looked at Chrome for just a few hours, I can easily say that even in its infancy, it is the most promising Web browser aimed towards the future of Web applications.

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