Thursday, February 18, 2010

Going Chrome... Google Chrome

Summary: If you haven't checked out Google Chrome lately, this may be the time.

Well, boys and girls, it looks like I'm switching to Google Chrome.

I have been using Firefox since version 1.5, but lately Firefox' performance turned into a major hassle. It takes me from 15 seconds to over a minute to launch the browser and it's just plain silly. I tried all suggestion I could find -- reducing the number of add-ons, deleting and recreating a user profile, etc. -- but since nothing helped, I have been looking for a browser replacement.

I briefly flirted with every version of IE that came out of Microsoft. IE7, IE8... did not like any of them. I tried a couple of the Chrome betas when they just came out, and did not like them mostly due to missing features, such as lack of extension support. I installed the current version (v.4.0.x) a couple of weeks ago, and the more I use it, the more I like it.

First of all I'm blown away with performance. Compared to Firefox, everything from initial browser launch to page loads seems blazingly fast.

Chrome's user interface is very pleasing. Many minor details illustrate a lot of thought put into the GUI. For example, I like that the status bar only appears when status is changing (this leaves more useful space for the web content). It's nice that the menu options are located under a single toolbar button (again giving more space and reducing the UI clutter).

Finally, I found out that all but few of my favorite Firefox add-ons had been ported to Chrome extensions, which made my transition easier. I would not have made a switch to Google Chrome, had the following extensions not been available:
  • IE Tab Multi (alternative: IE Tab)
    Displays web pages using IE rendering engine hosted inside of a Chrome tab.
  • LastPass
    Password manager, form filler, and more.
  • Xmarks Bookmarks Sync
    Synchronizes my bookmarks across IE, Firefox, Chrome and multiple computers.
I could've lived without the following extensions, but they sure make my web browsing experience better: And here are several extensions that developers will appreciate (courtesy to SitePoint Design View #69):
  • Pendule
    Extends the features of the the built-in Developer Tools (available via Ctrl+Shift+I).
  • Firebug Lite
    A somewhat crippled version of the most popular Firefox add-on.
  • Resolution Test
    Changes the size of the browser window for developers to preview their websites in different screen resolutions (see also Window Resizer).
  • Eye Dropper
    Allows you to pick color from any webpage.
These extensions and a handful of bookmarklets, should take care of most of my browser need. (By the way, in case you did not know: you do not need to restart Chrome after installing a new extension. Sweet.)

Too bad, I could not find replacement for the following Firefox add-ons:
  • DownThemAll
    Downloads all or selected files pointed by hyperlinks or image references in a web page.
  • FireFTP
    In-browser FTP client.
So, I'll keep Firefox just in case I need to use it (as well as IE), but for most of my needs, it looks like Chrome will server me pretty well. Thanks Google.

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