In April, I contributed two articles to the Web Development channel over on Bright Hub:
I’ve recently started an article series over on Bright Hub. The theme of the series is Google Chrome for Linux, and the series blurb states:
Google Chrome is shaking up the status quo for Web browsers. This series explores and expounds Chrome as it evolves for the Linux platform.
So far, there are the following three articles in the series:
- Google Chrome for Linux: Building from Source
- Google Chrome for Linux: Testing and Contributing
- Google Chrome for Linux: Android Availability
I intend to add more … and hope you’ll drop by to read the articles.
When I first wrote about Stainless, I indicated that it provided impressive features/functionalities for a version 0.1 release. In a subsequent post, I elaborated on Stainless’ strengths and weaknesses.
Stainless is now at version 0.2.5. And in the space of a few weeks, Mesa Dynamics has addressed a number of the weaknesses I previously noted. Specifically:
- Download capability – It just works now! Thanks!
- Offline mode – Via Google Gears. Interestingly, I predicted this might take some time. I am so happy to be wrong!!
Earlier today, I started to evaluate Stainless. In this post, it’s my intention to dig a little deeper by sharing more of what you will and won’t get with Stainless.
- Private Browsing – On selecting “File \ New Private Browsing Window”, the Stainless browser that appears makes use of WebKit‘s private browsing mode. In this mode, global history, page caching and storing of AutoFill information are disabled. Spawned tabs and windows inherit the private-browsing mode.
- Single-Point-of-Entry – Obviously you can type in a URL. However, you can also type in a text string (e.g., “Google Chrome”) to initiate a search via Google. In fact, via Stainless’ “Preferences”, you can choose to make use of Google, Yahoo!, Live Search, AOL or Ask.
- Process Management – I alluded to the multiprocess capability of Stainless in the previous post. I’ve just realized that by selecting “Window \ Process Manager” you can monitor and even terminate processes via a simple GUI. Very nice!
- Downloading Capability – I tried to download from a few sites … and all attempts FAILED!! I am shocked and amazed. I saw a Page loading error: Frame load interrupted message appear in the status bar each time … This is disappointing and will hopefully be fixed in version 0.2.
- History – Via Stainless’ “Back” button, there is some notion of history, but that’s it.
- URL Caching/Auto-Completion – URL caching and auto-completion are unavailable.
- An Open Source Version – There’s a significant Open Source aspect to Chrome. Based on proprietary technology developed by Mesa Dynamics for their Hypercube personal-widgetsphere offering, Stainless and Open Source seem unlikely to resonate.
- Cross-Platform Support – Stainless is available for Mac OS X Leopard. Will this offering will be broadened? Unknown.
- Extensibility – This killer functionality is a core competence of Mozilla Firefox. It appears that Chrome will sport something analogous. Stainless? Unknown?
- Offline Mode – I’m thinking of something along the lines of Google Gears … but I don’t see it arriving soon … I installed Gears for Safari. Unfortunately, Stainless gives me the impression that I have Gears support, but in reality (during an offline situation) it’s clear that I don’t. Misleading.
Despite the negatives, I expect to continue to make use of Stainless, and encourage you to do the same.
… the Mac version of Chrome will use a WebCore-rendered bitmap to pass between the browser and rendering processes. The strategy we use in Hypercube (and now Stainless) is far less ambitious, but a whole lot easier to do and, thus, available today for your downloading pleasure (for Leopard only, sorry).
- Performs well – It loads Web pages quickly. And as “ps -alx | grep -i stainless” indicates, Stainless really is a multiprocess browser for OS X. For me, this alone makes Stainless worth the effort.
- Supports AJAX – I’m writing this blog post using Google Docs via Stainless. Stainless worked fine on my initial tests with other Google productivity apps – I tested Google Spreadsheets and GMail. I therefore have some level of comfort in proclaiming it as supporting AJAX. Nice!
Google should not be making Mac and Linux users wait for Chrome.
- There’s a significant guerrilla-marketing campaign in action – the officially unstated competition with Microsoft for ‘world domination’. First Apple (with Safari), and now Google (with Chrome), is besting Microsoft Internet Explorer on Windows platforms. In revisiting the browser wars of the late nineties, it’s crucial for Google Chrome to go toe-to-toe with the competition. And whether we like to admit it or not, that competition is Microsoft Internet Explorer on the Microsoft Windows platform.
- The Mac and Linux ports will come from the Open Source’ing of Chrome … and we need to wait for this … Optimistically, that’s short-term pain, long-term gain.
- Google is risking alienating its Mac and Linux faithful … and this is philosophically at odds with all-things Google.
- It’s 2008, not 1998. In the past, as an acknowledged fringe community, Mac users were accustomed to the 6-18 month lag in software availability. Linux users, on the other hand, were often satiated by me-too feature/functionality made available by the Open Source community. In 2008, however, we have come to expect support to appear simultaneously on Mac, Linux and Windows platforms. For example, Open Source Mozilla releases their flagship Firefox browser (as well as their Thunderbird email application) simultaneously on Mac and Linux as well as Windows platforms. Why not Chrome?
So, what should Google do in the interim:
- Provide progress updates on a regular basis. Google requested email addresses from those Mac and Linux users interested in Chrome … Now they need to use them!
- Continue to engage Mac/Linux users. The Chromium Blog, Chromium-Announce, Chromium-discuss, Chromium – Google Code, etc., comprise an excellent start. Alpha and beta programs, along the lines of Mozilla’s, might also be a good idea …
- Commence work on ‘Browser War’ commercials. Apple’s purposefully understated commercials exploit weaknesses inherent in Microsoft-based PCs to promote their Macs. Microsoft’s fired back with (The Real) Bill Gates and comedian Jerry Seinfeld to … well … confuse us??? Shift to browsers. Enter Google. Enter Mozilla. Just think how much fun we’d all have! Surely Google can afford a few million to air an ad during Super Bowl XLII! Excessive? Fine. I’ll take the YouTube viral version at a fraction of the cost then … Just do it!
For now, the Pareto (80-20) principle remains in play. And although this drives a laser-sharp focus on Microsoft Internet Explorer on the Microsoft Windows platform at the outset, Google has to shift swiftly to Mac and Linux to really close on the disruptiveness of Chrome’s competitive volley.
And I, for one, can’t wait!
I stumbled across this announcement earlier today:
On 30 May, 2008 a newer version of the Notes 8.5 Mac OS X client was posted as part of the FULL Notes/Domino 8.5 Beta 1 release.