As a developer, when I'm writing/debugging websites, I still love Firefox for it's rich plugins like Firebug and the Web Developer toolbar, but when I'm browsing the web I'm head over heals in love with Chrome. Google is set to push the limits of the web with their latest browser and will be a driving force in browser innovation. Chrome opens impressively fast in Windows 7, and definitely seems faster when browsing sites than the latest versions of other popular browsers, including my now second favorite browser Firefox.
It's a lot of hard work to switch your default browser, since most of us are creatures of habit and have a general fear of the unknown. But let me be the first to tell you, if you're not using Chrome, it could be better and will only continue to get better. Outside of web development I don't use a lot of plugins, but the one's I do use I couldn't live without. Finally with Chrome 4, Google has launched extensions, at least on Windows. The extension community has been very busy, there are almost 3000 extensions available already. A few I would recommend checking out:
- Google Wave notifier, for keeping tabs on your Wave account. Wave's great, but let's be honest, nobody's using it yet.
- Google mail checker plus, nice quick access to your Gmail or even your Google Apps domain email/ It has notification of new emails, the ability to preview, delete, mark as read and plenty of other features.
- Chromelicious, the best delicious bookmark extension on Chrome, pretty close to the functionality you get with the Yahoo plugin for Firefox.
- ChromedBird, a fantastic twitter client for Chrome
- Facebook, a pretty decent Facebook client for Chrome, although I can't seem to find a way to get the Most Recent feed instead of the Top News feed, other than that it supports Chat and Notifications and is best for dipping into Facebook quickly without getting spotted.
- Google Voice, access to your Google Voice account, quick SMS and Calling interface and access to your Inbox. I send SMS messages all day long through this extension.
There are plenty of other great extensions, but these are the one's I use everyday and make the latest version of Chrome that much better.
So the quick list on why I like Chrome better than Firefox, these are purely personal tastes, but maybe you'll find some of these enticing and ditch your Microsoft browser... By the way if you're using a Microsoft browser by choice, you don't know what you're missing.
- Tabs on the top, tabs on the top are awesome, it just looks and feels slick. More of an application feel than a clunky tabbed browser.
- Tab to new window and back to tab, I know Firefox does this too, but nobody does it as seamlessly as Google, it just works and it's so smooth.
- Did I mention it's fast, it starts fast, it works fast and it almost never crashes, it's several times faster than Firefox at just launching.
- It manages memory better than Firefox, I know it's not Firefox's fault. It's all the plugins I have installed, it seems that Google's extensions and process management keep this leaking of memory under control. I know things will get better in Firefox 4, but by then Chrome 5 will be out.
- Latest web standards supported, such as HTML5 and Canvas, other non-Microsoft browsers have implemented HTML 5 features such as Canvas, but Google will continue to adopt and promote new standards, I know Firefox supports some of these standards too, but Google just seems to be quicker at implementing them.
- Sites typically look like they were intended to look, one of the benefits of using a standards compliant browser.
- Extensions can be installed without restarting my browser, I mean come on Firefox, this is obnoxious.
- Updates to new versions are quick and easy.
These are just a few of the things I like, not to mention it's much more secure and stable than other browsers I've used, and as a web developer I use at least the most popular 5 on a regular basis. I see Google trying out new protocols, such as spdy, and new methods of making the web a faster and more secure place for more and more applications that push the limit of what has been possible in the past. With each advancement in Chrome we'll see more and more desktop applications replaced by web applications, so unless you want to get left behind I'd recommend giving Chrome a try, especially if you're using one of those Microsoft browsers.
Today's the day all us developer types have been waiting for, Firefox 3 will be released and a world record for most downloads in a day will be set. If you're a web app developer and you're not using this browser, with at least Firebug, YSlow, and the Web Developer Toolbar, you might as well be coding with your eyes closed, quit your job and take a job in marketing. That's just how I feel about Firefox, it's literally changed the way I code, debug, and test. Join the good fight today and download Firefox 3.
Digging around today, I ran into this hack to allow Firefox to open more connections and to wait less time before rendering a page. It's been a common hack for IE over the years, but I wasn't aware there was something similar available for Firefox, it's a noticeable difference if your on broadband.
In firefox, the following settings will optimize your browser to utilize more simultaneous connections when pulling down a website and it will remove the default delay that firefox waits to paint the page:
- Open your browser and in the address bar type about:config and hit enter
- In the filter box type network.http.pipelining
- The results will filter, double click network.http.pipelining and change the value to true
- Double click network.http.pipelining.maxrequests and change the value to 10
- Right click in the middle of the page and choose New -> String and name the String nglayout.initialpaint.delay
- Double click nglayout.initialpaint.delay and give it a value of 0
If you're lazy like me, just go and install the FasterFox add on, which basically does all this and more for you.
And here's the registry hack for IE:
- Click Start run and type regedit and click OK
- Navigate to HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Internet Settings
- Right click the Internet Settings folder and click New -> DWORD
- Give the Key a name of MaxConnectionsPer1_0Server with a Decimal value of 10
- Create another DWORD with a key of MaxConnectionsPerServer and a Decimal value of 10
This hack was found on Metacafe in video format, which I had to watch like 5 times while switching back and forth between tabs, which made me think, hmm maybe I should write this down somewhere.