November 26, 2008

Chrome gripes

As much as I want to like and to use Chrome, several problems are still preventing me from switching, among which:

    No plug-ins. This is probably the most glaring hole. The best way to ship a product with features that you know are missing is to give developers a chance to implement these features for you. Firefox has made plug-ins an inseparable concept of the browser, it's really a pity that Chrome didn't follow in its footsteps and thought that v1.0 could ship without plug-ins.

  • No title bar. I don't know what the team was thinking or if it was a deliberate omission, but the fact that the title bar doesn't contain the title of the current HTML page makes it very hard for me to navigate through the multitude of browser windows that I usually work with. Having to go to the task bar to know which window is which is very lame.

  • Menu bar in a weird location. What's up with all these developers that keep thinking that reinventing user interfaces is cool? It's not. Putting the menu bar in the middle right area just to save 16 vertical pixels is dumb. Respect user's UI muscle memory and put the menus and their menu items in the expected location.

  • No keyword search. Failing to have plug-ins, I could live with just being able to specify keyword searches. For people not familiar with this concept that came from Firefox, it lets you define variable URL's that you can type directly in the address bar with different values. For example, I have a Wikipedia keyword that I assigned to "w" that lets me type "w saturn" in the address bar and that will show me that entry on the sixth planet of our solar system in Wikipedia right away. I have defined a multitude of these keywords (e.g. searching a colleague in our employee database, looking up a stock symbol, etc...) but Chrome is making me less productive by forcing me to have to do extra typing and clicking.

  • No "Reload all tabs". Ok, maybe that's just me, but I use this all the time on Firefox. On Chrome, I find myself having to go on all my tabs and press "Reload" on each of them. Again, the Chrome team didn't have to incorporate this feature in 1.0 but a plug-in API would have guaranteed to make this a non-issue.
As it stands right now, the fact that Chrome is the fastest Web browser on the planet is not enough to make me use it on a regular basis as long as these functionalities remain absent...

Posted by cedric at November 26, 2008 10:37 AM


Re: keyword search

You CAN do keyword search in Chrome. In Options, in the Basic tab, in the Default search area, click the Manage button. There you can add search engines, and you can set a keyword for them. Once you do that, in the location bar, type the keyword and hit TAB (SPACE might work, too). The location bar will change to show you're searching the engine you set up for that keyword (using the Name you chose when adding it).

Posted by: Tonio at November 26, 2008 11:26 AM

But there _is_ keyword search, though it's a little hard to find. Right-click on the url bar, pick "Edit search engines", and there you go.

While I understand the point about the menu bar, having one will run into UI problems with, say, Google Docs, where both the web app and the browser have a menu bar, and it's confusing whether you should go to the "Edit" drop down of the browser or of the web app. Not having a menu bar is somewhat consistent with the Chrome philosophy of minimalism -- staying out of the web apps' way as much as possible.

Posted by: Chung at November 26, 2008 11:28 AM

I agree on the plug-ins, but I understand that it's not a trivial subsystem.

I'm not sure I fully understand you on the title bar: the tabs *are* the title-bar. Still, if you have a lot of them open you can't really read them so well. It would be nice if it expanded the currently-focused tab so you could read it clearly. They could do this the same way they postpone tab re-sizing until your cursor is away from the tab bar for a second or so to avoid unpredictable movement when interacting with the tabs.

The menus follow a similar philosophy to the tabs replacing the title-bar. I virtually *never* use the menus in a web-browser. It's ridiculous to devote so much precious vertical screen space to them. I find it painful to go back to using Firefox. Even if I squash my bookmark bar in next to my menus on Firefox, it still has about twice as much clutter eating up space at the top of the screen compared to Chrome.

Not only does Chrome have keyword search, but since it imported my Firefox bookmarks all my old keyword searches work automatically. Even better, you get some visual feedback that it's going to do a keyword search while you're still typing, which is helpful when I can't remember quite what abbreviation I used for a keyword search I haven't used in a while.

I think I must use tabs very differently from you, since I can't see a "reload all tabs" function being particularly useful to me. Of course, that's the great thing about a plug-in API: if it had one you could have such a feature and I wouldn't need to worry about it clogging up my UI.

I have a very different list of must-haves from Chrome. My top 3 are:

* Bookmark sync.
* Feed detection and subscription. (I.e. put the orange feed icon somewhere when a feed is detected, then when I click on it let me subscribe using a feed reader, such as Google Reader.)
* Sensible behaviour when navigating backwards through POSTed forms. I keep losing the contents of forms because I expect to be able to go back and still have my text there, but instead it asks if I want to resubmit the form.

Posted by: Weeble at November 26, 2008 02:33 PM

There is always firefox, IE, Opera and Safari to name but a few...

Chrome is still in beta and the Google team are asking for feedback, why not let them know?

I agree with your plugin comment too.

Posted by: hatman at November 26, 2008 03:34 PM

About the menu bar: I agree with the previous comments that you almost never use the menu of a browser, and most of the functionality will be in the "content" window. So to me this originality is very welcome: the menu should not take that extra space (not everybody has a dual 24" screen, especially at work).

I totally agree with you that re-inventing UI is 99.9% of the time a bad idea, but there ARE exceptions, and here it actually makes sense :)

The lack of plugins is also the #1 reason why I don't use Chrome (in particular: I'm used to see no ads in my browsing) but I'm sure that will be implemented sooner or later.

Posted by: BoD at November 27, 2008 01:03 AM

I've been using Chrome for a while, although it's strange, I think I finally figured out what they are doing. I believe they are trying to change what a browser is.

I think the "Browser Mode" that you usually use is almost incidental, the real goal seems to be this mode that you get into when you save a page "As an application".

When you do this, the browser completely reconfigures itself. No tabs, no menu, nothing but a OS window bar.

It makes gmail, Google Docs and iGoogle all look almost exactly like native apps.

After I noticed this, I noticed other annoying things they've been doing that just move it towards this goal. Like the fact that they have a menu in the upper left of their web pages. My guess is they are going to put a tag on in that actually turns it into a native menu, and the recent difficult-to-use changes to IG and gmail.

My guess is they are going to come out with something called a gPC soon without a hard drive that makes everything just look native.

I'm thinking that they really don't care about how Chrome works on the PC except that they are getting a bunch of free troubleshooting.

Also, would it make sense for a company that makes almost all its profits off web advertisements to encourage plugins such as "Addblock"?

Posted by: bill k at November 27, 2008 06:14 PM

I have been trying to install Chrome on my notebook and everytime I do it, it crashes on the first launch ...

I was able to do it in 2 other machines. The support for Chrome looks to be very minimal ...

Posted by: Kannan at December 7, 2008 06:28 AM

It should be noted that later versions of Chrome WILL have a plug-in system similar to Firefox's. Yes, that includes the ability for an adblocker.

Posted by: Tulle at January 2, 2009 10:53 PM

I agree.

Posted by: ff at January 14, 2009 08:41 PM

As an application feature is indeed very cool for those of us which use gmail, and google docs. Very Cool.

Posted by: Simon at January 19, 2009 11:10 PM

For me there is also a big problem - Google Chrome doesn't support Linux yet.

Posted by: Vitaliy Pomazyonkov at January 20, 2009 10:24 AM

i've tried to install it on my computer, but somehow, it can not success to copy my datas from firefox to itself. i dont know why :(

Posted by: yunike aka flame at February 3, 2009 06:44 AM

i thought chrome is the another big phenomena from google, but i dont know. until this time, i can not run it well in my computer

Posted by: yunike aka flame at February 3, 2009 06:50 AM

Hi..Cedric. I have a question of TestNG, Could you tell me your email address ? I can't find it . please to send it to my email address thank you .

Posted by: tesge at February 6, 2009 08:44 PM

sorry ,my email is : thanks

Posted by: tesge at February 6, 2009 08:46 PM

It is going to take some time before they work all the quirks out I am sure, but from the sounds of it, Firefox is still the best. Hopefully Chrome will be able to put up a fight with their next version.

Posted by: muffin9129 at June 11, 2009 11:57 AM

Chrome has to come out with a stronger case I think. Firefox is simply too good to compete with if you are not at least going to match what they have. You cannot show someone a washing machine, and then tell them to wash their clothes by hand.

Posted by: Pat.R at June 23, 2009 03:04 PM

@ Tonio ("In Options, in the Basic tab, in the Default search area, click the Manage button.")

thanks from the future

Posted by: vajorie at December 22, 2009 11:17 PM
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