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Waffle is a weblog.
The author of Waffle, some guy in Sweden, also occasionally writes stmts.net.

Cr-24

Google Chrome is a funny creature.

  • It looks precisely as minimalist as IE7 tried to. (For those keeping score: IE7 failed. Horribly.) It uses two menu buttons and they are all click-for-menu. In IE7, there were four or five menu buttons (I forget), some of them — but you won’t know until you hover! — the click-for-default-option split button, and the Help button was being hidden by a chevron even with miles of space available to show it in.

  • It really tries to remove all possible chrome. When you maximize the window, tabs will slide up to fit at the very top of the screen, to the left of the window widgets. There’s no full screen mode because it’s not necessary. The Find and status bars both grow out of the edges, refusing even to cover a full row, and at least the status bar can’t be permanently pinned.

  • Its WebKit roots affords it a version of the newest revision of the WebKit inspector, which is what shows up when you ask to inspect something. This looks terrifyingly out of place.

  • Unlike Safari, the Reload button does not change into the Stop button; the “Go to” button at the right does. Like Safari, clicking the Stop button a second too late will cause the page to reload (on account of going to the page again). Update: According to the Chromium Developer Documentation: “If the navigation state changes while the user’s mouse is over the button and the state change is not a result of a user action, the button will not change. It also protects against double-clicks.” Running Chrome in a virtual machine that was already overloaded, it was hard to get the timing right or I might have noticed this.

  • The History and Downloads options bring up special pages within tabs (headlined by search fields). Help brings up the Google support center for Chrome. Most other options actually afford their own windows.

  • The bookmark bar is detached and shows up only on the interactive Opera-style “speed dial” start page, but can be attached with a smooth animation. There’s a menu for other bookmarks, but no “bookmark center”. Bookmarks show up in autocomplete, and there’s a “bookmark this” star.

  • The persistent chrome is devoid of any text except for: 1) placeholder or current text in the URL bar, 2) any bookmarks if the bar is shown and 3) the Google logo to the left of Minimize in unmaximized mode.

  • Double-clicking the top left corner does not close the window. This being Windows, this is going to drive a bunch of people nuts.

  • Much of the overall design laps Opera with Firefox (and the no-menus screams of IE). IE 8’s method of highlighting the domain name in the address bar is also used.

  • The memory management UI is surprisingly accessible. about:memory shows an exhaustive report (and tries to measure other running browsers — it is on!), and there’s a lighter task manager that gives memory, CPU and network details along with a kill button.

  • Overall, there’s gone more polish into the browser’s appearance that most any Google project I know. Google Chrome — or at least the subset that has been paid attention to — looks small and looks good. The overall shape somewhat reminds me of palettes in Adobe CS3 apps like Photoshop. (I can only assume that lawyers have been dispatched).

When I first heard yesterday about Google Chrome, my reaction was dismissive. I warmed up slightly to some of the technical implementation, and am now fully thawed after some brief use. Regardless of origin, it is promising, and its design philosophy incrementally laudable. With WebKit in tow, the Chrome team can focus on its specific implementation of a great browser.

That said, I’m looking forward to seeing what will become of this on Mac OS X. Getting rid of menus doesn’t work so well here because of the big bar reserved for them; hopefully, this will be resolved by restoring the menus and keeping the rest of the slim UI. OmniWeb, my current browser is my default browser for a reason — in stand-by, it offers only a title bar, a status bar and a tab drawer. I hit a command (or open a new tab) to enter a new URL or search query, and the menus sit in their designated location. This is a game that’s already being played.

Comments

  1. FWIW, in “Application Mode”, a more standard “System Menu” sprouts in the upper left of the Window.

    (I can’t actually remember the last time I double-clicked that area in Windows to close a window, but no doubt people still do.)

    By Adam Vandenberg · 2008.09.02 22:21

  2. I weaned myself after five years with Windows 9x to use the close button, and a few years after that I started using Mac OS X, where the close button is on the left hand side, and the double clicks began reverting.

    By Jesper · 2008.09.02 22:33

  3. Excellent points all, but I’m glad to see someone else appreciates OmniWeb enough to make it his default browser. There’s something ineffable about it that just keeps me coming back.

    By Bill Brown · 2008.09.03 00:33

  4. You should really work on your writing skills. Some of your sentences are so mangled it gives me a headache. For example:

    It looks precisely as minimalist as IE7 tried to, but failed – Which failed, IE7, or Chrome?

    (and not half of them click-for-default-option) – If “not half” of them, then how many? And what is “click-for-default-option”, anyway?

    (on account to going to the page again) – On account to? What?

    By David · 2008.09.03 00:40

  5. re: That said, I’m looking forward to seeing what will become of this on Mac OS X. Getting rid of menus doesn’t work so well here because of the big bar reserved for them

    It would be great if they changed the default http://www.macosxhints.com/article.php?story=20070118003804854&query=hide%2Bmenu

    to hide the menubar, which then shows on mouseover.

    I wish there was a system wide setting for that.

    By meeech · 2008.09.03 01:37

  6. No AdBlock Plus, no use. No Developers’ Toolbar, no use. I tried it today and HATED it.

    By Dave Barnes · 2008.09.03 04:10

  7. I think the idea of using tabs to manage multiple processes’ windows (web browser or not) is excellent, but something better done at OS level than app level.

    Imagine if Expose added this functionality allowing me to, say, group several different browser windows, a text editor, photoshop, and transmit — it’s “do it yourself Coda” except with FireFox’s debugging abilities, Textmate for an editor, the real Transmit for FTP, etc.

    By Tonio Loewald · 2008.09.03 05:56

  8. David: “It looks precisely as minimalist as IE7 tried to, but failed”: It looks precisely as minimalist as IE7 tried to [look like], but [which had already] failed. I agree that it’s equilibristic to the point of ambiguity, so I’ve changed it. The more pointed language in the revised version is a service I provide at no extra charge. ;)

    “(and not half of them click-for-default-option) – If “not half” of them, then how many? And what is “click-for-default-option”, anyway?” Around half of them in amount because I can’t remember what’s in the default configuration and I’ve upgraded to IE8 beta in my virtual machine. Furthermore, it was kind of a pun, since (about) half of the button surface goes to one of the more commonly used options in the menu – e.g. the print button chiefly goes to the Print option, but contains a few others. This is called a “split button”.

    “on account to”: on account of. Blatant typo. Whoops.

    Thanks.

    By Jesper · 2008.09.03 06:25

  9. Dave Barnes: It is interesting how a brand new browser doesn’t come populated with tools years in the making by the community. ;)

    Tonio: It’s an original idea, but it’d be hard to coordinate window resizing and moving in the event two apps would want to constrain the size or position in mutually exclusive ways. I think Spaces is their answer for this as it stands, and I don’t think they’ll be replacing or supplementing it until they have something that works really well.

    Meech: Apple needs to think long and hard about what’s happening to menus, and take a stance one way or another. I don’t think anything beyond paint jobs will be happening to the menu bar until they do.

    By Jesper · 2008.09.03 06:34

  10. No Developers’ Toolbar, no use Dave – right click on an element and select “inspect element”. This will bring up the Safari inspector (as mentioned in this article).

    By Adamcoop · 2008.09.03 07:11

  11. i agree on OmniWeb… Safari has similar — if not the same — functionality by hiding the menu bar and bookmarks bar. In Safari, though, there can be a few UI glitches while pages are loading. It usually fixes itself once the page has loaded. (i.e. double tab bars while a page loads in a new tab).

    Waiting on Chrome for Mac, but in no real hurry to test it. I can live with my current stable of browsers and use Fluid for SSB.

    By Sam Hall · 2008.09.03 15:05

  12. In my eyes, chrome is finally a browser that get’s it right! If I’m browsing the web, I want to see the web, not the browser. But the most promising feature is the independence of the tabs: No more Browser-lockups due to bloaty web pages!

    I’ve been trying out Chrome for some hours now, and dispite minor bugs, I feel it’s the best browser I’ve ever used.

    By Jakob Egger · 2008.09.03 15:43

  13. Adam: If I’m not mistaken, the Web Developer toolbar also includes a bunch of bookmarklet-like stuff, like resizing the window to a target resolution and disabling styles. Nothing that can’t be solved with actual bookmarklets, I guess.

    By Jesper · 2008.09.03 18:01

  14. fyi: Google Chrome for osX – Mockup Design.

    I decided to make a quick mockup design of what the browser could look like on osX. I really hope that Google will design the browser in the osX unified look with state of the art integration into the system. So hopefully more the Camino aprroach than the Firefox way.

    http://www.smeidu.com/2008/09/04/google-chrome-for-osx-mockup-design/

    By smeidu · 2008.09.04 03:05

  15. smeidu: I think that could work just fine, I’m just worried what’d be in the menu bar.

    By Jesper · 2008.09.04 08:11

  16. Nice review. Some other review can be found at http://raiyaraj.wordpress.com/2008/09/04/first-experience-with-google-chrome/

    By RaiyaRaj · 2008.09.18 06:35

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