Google Chrome

Just downloaded Google Chrome and did some very brief tests. Rendering engine seems equal to Safari 3.1, as expected. There will be a few minor differences somewhere; I’ll let you know when I find them.

Feels light, quick.

It features a quite slick-looking Firebug clone that includes a YSlow clone. Right-click and select "Inspect element" to access it. Haven’t tried to actually debug with it yet, but it looks promising.

The important points in the Google Chrome story, however, are not about DOM and CSS compatibility, and not even about debugging tools.

John Resig and Alex Russell discuss some ways in which this release could be the start of a new browser war. (Contrary to what Opera states, it hasn’t quite started yet.) I also have a few points to make, but that’ll have to wait for another time.

In order to find out which effect on the market it has, Chrome’s share will have to be measured. Updated browser detect. Detect it by searching for Chrome in navigator.userAgent.
Note to Google Chrome team: please make navigator.vendor read "Google" instead of "Apple".

Which version number does it have? I can’t put a browser without a version number in my Tables. navigator.userAgent says 0.2

Come to think of it, I haven’t yet found any way of disguising it as another browser to get around browser detects written by clueless web developers.

Come to think of it, I haven’t yet found a Preferences menu.

0.2 sounds about right.

But it’s definitely a promising start.

This is the blog of Peter-Paul Koch, web developer, consultant, and trainer. You can also follow him on Twitter or Mastodon.
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1 Posted by Paul Armstrong on 3 September 2008 | Permalink

That's not a Firebug clone, it's the Webkit inspector and is also included in Safari.

2 Posted by Shawn on 3 September 2008 | Permalink

As Paul said, they incorporated part of the revamped WebKit inspector (see notes at ), which made me happy to see.

It took me a little while, but I found the preferences under the icon all the way to the right, under "Options" - it doesn't give you a lot, but you can change some things. I definitely agree with your 0.2 version number conclusion.

3 Posted by David Gerard on 3 September 2008 | Permalink

"We are so, so happy with Google Chrome," mumbled Mozilla CEO John Lilly through gritted teeth. "That most of our income is from Google has no bearing on me making this statement." -

4 Posted by Eric TF Bat on 3 September 2008 | Permalink

It does look interesting. The minute someone ports AdBlock to it, I'll give it a serious look.

5 Posted by Seth on 3 September 2008 | Permalink

More info on the user agent string:

6 Posted by liorean on 3 September 2008 | Permalink

Oh, the app preferences are reached by clicking the wrench icon found right of the location bar. The site specific options and developer tools and such are reach by clicking the page icon between the location bar and the wrench icon.

7 Posted by Dmitry Baranovskiy on 3 September 2008 | Permalink

To see user agent string and version number type “about:version” in the address bar.

8 Posted by Sander Aarts on 3 September 2008 | Permalink

One difference in rendering compared to Safari is that of fonts. Chrome uses the standard font rendering on Windows instead of the fat OSX kind of font rendering that Safari brings along.

Some other visual differences compared to Safari: scroll bars look native instead of OSX-ish and form fields that have focus get a brown/orange glow around the border instead of a blue one. The resize icon for textareas looks a bit more archaic too.

A behavioral difference I noticed is that in textareas, when typing a word that moves to a new row, the beginning of the word that has moved is hidden (as if the characters had visibility: hidden; set to them). After a short moment, up to a few seconds, the characters get visible again.
This seems not to be the case for all textareas though.

9 Posted by martijn on 3 September 2008 | Permalink

it seems hotmail its browser detection doesnt feature chrome yet or has it?

i first logged in and it showed a message to either use firefox, safari or ie.
but with a second try later i could just read my mails.

10 Posted by Party Ideas on 3 September 2008 | Permalink

Two new browsers in two weeks! Phew!

Some quick observations:
- You can see the version and UA in 'spanner' -> About.
- The UA reports (inter alia) Safari/525.13; I don't know whether this is significant or just to stop lazy sniffers falling over. The latest Windows Safari is 525.21
- As Aarts said IMO fonts look much better than Safari on Windows
- The 'Create Application Shortcut' is interesting - creates a 'modal' shortcut to your website. Obviously this is envisaged for gmail and the like. But not having an address bar, back button or even an SSL indicator, it will certainly change the way users interact with web sites.
- Buried in the web developer notes at the very bottom is stuff about; news to me.

11 Posted by cpu on 3 September 2008 | Permalink

Bug 346 filed about navigator.vendor

12 Posted by seo on 4 September 2008 | Permalink

Like Paul said, the "inspect elemets" is esesntially taken from WebKit. Quite surprise you said it's a firebug clone :)

13 Posted by Guillome on 4 September 2008 | Permalink

Estelle posted a review of Google Chrome's CSS selector support.

14 Posted by James on 4 September 2008 | Permalink

I wonder if this will be the end to Firefox now that Chrome has launched and going!

15 Posted by Javier on 4 September 2008 | Permalink

How to debug in Google Chrome

Since Google Chrome documentation about debuging is still to come and Google Chome doesn’t have a Firebug extension, I just wrote a short article explaining how to use the different tools “for developers” available in Google Chrome.

Please take a look at the article (Pictures are self explanatory, but text is in Spanish)

“Depurar Aplicaciones y Páginas Web con Google Chrome”

I would be glad to add, edit or do changes as information arrives, so feel free to give feedback.


16 Posted by Rado on 5 September 2008 | Permalink

Chrom's starting process is faster but the load process to browse websites appears to me as slower than FF. Great software start though, I wonder when will Google come up with a new OS. Funny cause I can't see some heavier Flash animations. Google stopped FF's promoting program with AdSense now at the end of August.

17 Posted by Rado on 5 September 2008 | Permalink

Chrome's starting process is faster but to me the load process to browse websites is still slower than FF. Great software start though, I wonder when will Google come up with a new OS. Funny cause I can't see some heavier Flash animations. Google stopped promoting FF with AdSense now at the end of August.

18 Posted by Five Minute Argument on 5 September 2008 | Permalink

I'm seeing quite a few comments (here, there, and everywhere) about Chrome's CSS support, despite the fact that WebKit is the rendering engine. Is there any point in tables showing CSS support separately for Chrome and Safari, as in comment #13?

19 Posted by ppk on 7 September 2008 | Permalink

Quick reply:

There are a few differences between Safari 3.1 and Chrome.

Firefox will likely be the short-term victim.

By "Firebug clone" I meant something with similar functionality. Wrong wording; sorry.

I'll write more about Chrome later on, after my conference has finished.

20 Posted by KeeKee on 12 September 2008 | Permalink

I was just on another site talking about Chrome. I'm sorry but I like Mozilla better. Like I said in the other comment, we are creatures of habit and maybe I'll get used to it and like it better the more I use it. I am female after all and we have been known to change our minds.

21 Posted by Zach on 19 September 2008 | Permalink

Hmmm. I would have been much happier if I wouldn't have cringed to discover that Chrome obviously doesn't know how to handle CSS any better than IE has for the last decade.

The nice thing is...none of my clients who are using IE 6 are likely to update their browsers anytime anytime they probably won't find out that their sites look like crap in Chrome until 2015.


Email me when you've written a browser that I don't have to write a hack for to make it work.

Meanwhile, back to the old Firefox.


22 Posted by Nick Johnston on 29 September 2008 | Permalink

Chrome certainly feels very nice to use, although I'm not a big fan of WebKit - CSS layout rendering often seems sporadic and is harder to hack than IE and FF.

23 Posted by Max Graham on 26 November 2008 | Permalink

Hi PPK, Google has updated Chrome and in Chrome based on WebKit 525.19 the vendor is now: "Google Inc." vs. "Apple Computer, Inc."