Tony's ramblings on Open Source Software, Life and Photography


My Gripe With Chrome

I love the Google Chrome browser. I'm currently typing this using the beta version for Linux which was easy to download and install once I figured out where to get it.

For my javascript-heavy pages that I use on a daily basis, it's blindingly fast compared to Firefox. I've only found one rendering "bug" but it's with something I'm doing a bit of non-standard CSS work with.

My only gripe is that it doesn't use the middle mouse button to open links in a new tab. It works great if you middle-click on a bookmark item, but middle click on a link doesn't open in a new tab, and I can find no setting to make that happen.

Surprisingly enough, that's a deal-killer for me. I've grown too lazy to have to right-click a link and choose "Open in new tab." Yeah, that's sad.

**** UPDATE ****
Weird... later in the day the middle-click started working mysteriously. Why?


Chrome Has A Flaw

Google Chrome has a big flaw and I'm not sure Google even sees that fact.

No, I'm not talking about the carpetbomb flaw. I'm talking about something that could curse the browser from day one and is caused by how smart all the guys at Google are.

Yes, I said caused by how smart they are.

So far, all the cool pluses of using Chrome are really technical in nature. All the comics in the world won't change the fact that Jim who uses IE7 really doesn't care if each tab is a process. He probably still doesn't know how to open new tabs anyway. Jim just wants an easy answer that browses the web. If your website doesn't work well with his browser, he's much more likely to browse elsewhere than to replace the browser.

All the geeks in the world (sans Microsoft) can't change the fact that all the coolness in Chrome really only appeals to those who really understand what's going on. Remember Betamax? The general consensus is that it was a better format than VHS but still VHS won out. No consumer cares how technically better Betamax was. Only the A/V geeks cared. If you don't know what Betamax or VHS was, take my word for it. The technically better product rarely wins in the market.

Chrome could easily fall into this trap. Firefox was embraced by Geeks worldwide and grabbed a part of the market, certainly. I would say given a finished product a large percentage of Firefox users would switch. But, those are also the same users who understand on some level what is better about another browser that still renders their favorite websites exactly the same way as their last one did.


Larry Dignan of ZDNet Misses The Point

On the announcement of Google Chrome, Google's new entry into the "browser wars", Larry Dignan actually said:

"However, there is a bigger question here. How much do you want to rely on Google for your business?"

On re-reading his article he also conveniently sidesteps the entire open-source issue.

That's right girls and boys, Google Chrome is announced as open-source and so is the JavaScript VM they have had developed for it. So the real question is...

Does Google even matter when the product is open-source and cross platform? Certainly Google's mindset is to create a cross-platform browser with new standards for application development, and what better way to create a new standard than to make it open-source?

I think this is a great play for Google. The geeks are sure to jump onboad immediately. I forsee Firefox implementing some of the technologies that Google is developing. I forsee Microsoft trying to clone it in IE9 while still locking you into Microsoft technologies, in true Microsoft fashion.

I forsee this as the next nail in the Microsoft coffin.

Dennis Howlett, also of zdnet, says that no CXO is going to give Chrome all that much thought.

Wrong, Dennis. CXO's who want to stay on top of their game are going to jump on the bandwagon faster than you can say security. I know I am. Sure I probably won't deploy it to all my workstations today, but I'm certain that my department will be running it on their own machines by the end of the day, just to see how it works.


Web Page Print Formatting Layout

I worked on a new application over the weekend that will be web based and provide very nicely formatted printed pages of content. I wanted to do some really cool things with the layout on the screen, and I really hate the pop-up "print formatted" pages that a lot of sites do. In fact, in today's browser world, a separate print page isn't necessary anymore.

With a little bit of CSS styling and AJAX I was able to generate an invoice data entry web page that would never look right when printed. However, when you click print in your browser, you get a very nicely formatted invoice that spits out of the printer. There's no apparent relationship to the printed layout and the screen layout - in fact everything that is displayed on the screen is completely hidden when printed, and replaced with a completely separate layout embedded within the same page.

It's really quite easy. First, provide two separate CSS files for your layout - one for screen and one for print: