Tomer Gabel's annoying spot on the 'net RSS 2.0
# Sunday, November 2, 2008

It appears it's been two months since my previous post on Chrome, so it's time for a retrospective look at the browser and its alternatives:

  • Chrome is fast.

Bleeding fast, in fact. It's been said before and I'll reiterate it - it just feels fast. I don't have any objective measurements nor do I care; my surfing habits haven't changed since moving from Firefox to Chrome, but the increase in responsiveness is both perceived and welcome.

  • Chrome is stable.

Seriously, it doesn't crash. Firefox is actually quite stable, but it suffers from its own version of winrot, and either becomes exceedingly slow or simply crashes within a day or two. Chrome hardly ever does.

Additionally, the Shockwave plugin has an annoying tendency to break oddly on the machine at work (specifically, videos play only until 00:02 with no sound), and whereas with Firefox I had to restart the browser, with Chrome I can simply terminate the process hosting the Shockwave plugin (usually recognized by being the Chrome.exe process with highest CPU utilization, but I prefer to use Process Explorer to make sure) and Chrome restarts it just fine.

All said and done, I've seen Chrome crash maybe twice these past few months, and I use it exclusively (at work and on my two home machines).

  • Chrome is full featured.

Really, it is. Most people, particularly those used to vanilla Internet Explorer 7 (or even, God forbid, 6) will not lack any functionality, at all. For power users, however...

If there's one feature in Chrome that I'm seriously missing, it's ABP (Adblock Plus, or an equivalent ad blocker). This ubiquitous Firefox extension simply sits there, unobtrusively blocks crap from taking your bandwidth and overloading your brain, is so simple to use even my granddad could get the hang of it and it Just WorksTM.

And don't buy into the Privoxy nonsense; it can take hours to configure just to be as effective as ABP, not even remotely as user friendly and requires you to run yet another server process. In my opinion it's not really worth the hassle for any but the fastidious power users (please don't take this personally, Privoxy guys -- I don't think I'm your target audience anyway).

  • Chrome needs session management.

It's hella-annoying to have to copy my URLs aside manually. The good old Session Manager extension for Firefox is another unobtrusive add-on that Just Works, one which the Chrome team should certainly emulate (at least until an extension framework is available).

  • Chrome does not handle Hebrew all that well.

RTL editing in Chrome is, to be blunt, a difficult affair at best. Although text navigation may appear to work at first glance, as soon as Hebrew characters enter the equation the whole thing becomes a right mess that's harder to handle than even Firefox in its prehistoric, Firebird days. Encoding detection seems to be a lot less robust than in Firefox (props, ShooshX!) at least for Hebrew - since that one's completely open-source, I'd certainly advise the Chrome team to import that code-base.

  • Chrome desperately needs full-page zoom.

Along with Adblock Plus, this is the one killer-feature for Firefox it's really difficult for me to do without. I use both Chrome and Firefox on my living room HTPC (Pioneer PDP-4080XA plasma display via HDMI at 1280x720) from quite a few meters, and the full page zoom in Firefox is simply light-years away from Chrome in successfully enlarging web-sites. So much so, in fact, that I've found myself more often than not going back to Firefox for that particular machine.

So, bottom line: do I like Chrome? Hell yes. I'll definitely continue using it and monitoring its progress. The browser has been amazingly impressive since day one, kudos to the astoundingly talented guys at Google who integrated the whole thing. In fact, the product is so solid it doesn't even feel like an underdog contender. I'll probably end up alternating back and forth with Firefox until it boils down to a question of taste.

Sunday, November 2, 2008 10:10:43 PM (Jerusalem Standard Time, UTC+02:00)  #    -
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