Thursday, September 4, 2008

SuperChrome is born - read the comic book

The browser wars have returned. And just in time because boy, was I getting bored. It seemed that things were getting too stable for good competition in the web arena. Internet Explorer had conceded to follow CSS standards, Firefox updated every other time you opened your browser, and let’s see… that’s about it. Oh, there’s Safari, but that’s not anything important was it? If it was, it should have been called iBrowser, right?

But Safari had the best standards compliancy and was the fastest for loading and processing pages. And it wasn’t being pushed by Apple so it sat in the jungle unnoticed until Google, the intrepid hunters of Mountain View, went and consulted the Safari guides. They came away with the beginning of a new browser called Chrome, named after the small but significant frame that contains the web page in a browser.

Chrome has its technical features that are sure to lure open source users away from Firefox and further erode the base of Microsoft. One such feature is that it essentially makes the web browser the RIA for the Google home page. Instead of just having a dull give-me-a-page browser, Chrome searches terms for you and remembers where you’ve searched before allowing you to get there quicker. No more Google Toolbar or competitors. I like that I can type amazon<tab> and get the search feature directly in the browser. I also like seeing where I’ve been browsing the most because it’s likely I’m going to go back there.

But there’s a few tarnishes on the Chrome as the bug reports come streaming in. People expect brilliance and perfection from Google which in this case is not happening. It’s almost like people expected a polished hubcap and got the plastic version instead. It’s a beta, guys. That’s not even one point zero. And you expect them to be on par with a program released in 1995 like IE? Google did a fantastic job of rethinking the browser for today’s use. Even Microsoft takes a few versions before people pay attention to them seriously with a new product and capture market share.

I am waiting a year while the Google gearheads make applications that will talk to Chrome and the other services that are cropping up. It’s even open sourced so anyone can make changes if they can figure out how the Google geniuses made it work. JavaScript is standardized finally and that means as a language we will have plenty of gasoline for the web engines out there. But grab yourself a copy at Google Chrome’s web site and read the comic book by Scott McCloud, the comics theorist, which explains it all. And then sit back for some interesting times ahead.