All posts tagged ‘Chromium’

Google’s New ‘Dart’ Language to Get a Starring Role in Chrome

Google has released an experimental version of the Chromium web browser with support for the company’s new Dart programming language. Dart, which is Google’s attempt to improve on JavaScript, has thus far not enjoyed much support outside of Google, but the company continues to push forward with its own efforts.

The new development preview version of the Chromium browser, the open source version of Google’s Chrome browser, contains the Dart Virtual Machine. This release, which Google is calling “Dartium,” can be downloaded from the Dart language website. At the moment it’s available only for Mac OS X and Linux. Google says a Windows version is “coming soon.” Keep in mind that this is a preview release and intended for developer testing, not everyday use.

Google originally created Dart to address the shortcomings of JavaScript and ostensibly speed up the development of complex, large-scale web applications.

While there is much programmers might like about Dart, it is, like Microsoft’s VBScript before it, a nonstandard language from a single vendor created without any regard for the existing web standards process. The new Dartium release is the first browser to include a Dart Virtual Machine and, based on the response from other browser makers to the initial release of Dart, likely the only browser that will ever ship with a Dart VM. For its part Google says it plans to incorporate the experimental Dart VM into Chrome proper in the future.

The company also has a plan for all those browsers that aren’t jumping on the Dart bandwagon — a compiler that translates Dart to good old JavaScript. In this scenario Dart ends up somewhat like CoffeeScript, a JavaScript abstraction that makes more sense to some programmers.

For more details on the new Dartium browser and the latest improvements to the Dart VM, be sure to check out the Google Code Blog announcement.

File Under: Browsers

Reflecting on Chrome as Browser Hits Third Birthday

Google launched its Chrome Web browser on September 1, 2008—three years ago today. In the time since its debut, Google’s Web browser has attracted a considerable following and influenced other browser vendors. To celebrate the anniversary, Google has published an interactive HTML5 infographic that presents the history of the major Web browsers and Web standards.

Chrome’s contributions to the Web and browser design are significant. Google set the pace of development for modern browsers by being the first browser vendor to adopt a radically shorter development cycle and a release management strategy that emphasizes fast-paced incremental improvement. Chrome’s transparent update system and channel-based prerelease distribution model are being adopted by Firefox and could eventually be picked up by other browser vendors.

Chrome’s distinctive minimalist design has also changed the way that browser vendors think about usability. Chrome’s approach to paring down the interface and offering a more streamlined user experience has been embraced by other browsers. Google took the lead on some controversial moves, like not displaying “http” in the location bar.

The technical influence of Chrome can even be felt outside of the browser ecosystem. The performance of Chrome’s sophisticated V8 JavaScript engine and the ease with which it can be embedded in other software have led to its adoption in a range of other environments. For example, V8 was used to produce Node.js, a server-side JavaScript runtime that is popularizing the use of JavaScript for backend Web development.

Although Chrome has come a long way, the browser still lags behind its competitors in some key ways. When we first reviewed Chrome in 2008, one of our biggest gripes with the user interface was the lack of tab overflow handling. After three years, this issue still hasn’t been fixed. Chrome’s user interface for browsing history is another major weak area relative to other browsers. History autocompletion in the Omnibox is also quite limited compared to Firefox’s AwesomeBar.

Despite the limitations, Chrome’s audience has grown explosively since its 2008 launch. According to statistics from StatCounter, the browser’s marketshare hit 10 percent last year and continued growing to 23 percent, as of this month. It’s become an important part of Google’s product landscape, serving as the central pillar of the company’s ambitious Chrome OS operating system.

After three great years of innovation and raising the bar, Chrome’s future looks bright.

[Illustration by Scott McCloud]

This article originally appeared on Ars Technica, Wired’s sister site for in-depth technology news.

File Under: Browsers

Google Related Collects Relevant Content at the Foot of Chrome

Chrome Related shows other semi-relevant pages

Google has released a new service entitled Google Related, a "browser assistant" Chrome extension intended to direct users to webpages on the same topic as the one they’re currently viewing. While some applications of the service, like getting extra info during a restaurant search, are useful, some others produce unhelpful suggestions in a framework that should be more trainable than it is.

Once you have the Google Related extension installed, a bar will begin appearing along the bottom of certain types of pages, such as news, shopping, or restaurant websites. Various tabs allow you access to content related to that page–visiting a restaurant’s website may produce a tab with a Google map of the restaurant’s address, a second tab with reviews, and a third tab of related locations (as identified by Google Maps).

The restaurant website suggestions are the most coherent, as the previous list nails exactly what I’m looking for when I look up a restaurant. But some of the tabs are too selective and Google-centric (unsurprisingly), as when the Reviews tab produces Google Places reviews and links to the Urban Spoon page, but not to Yelp.

A Google Related tab produced from a news story concerning an HTC vs. Apple patent spat.

Visiting a page with a news story will produce a dropdown (or more accurately, a shoot-up) of culled news stories on the same topic from other sources. The displayed stories seem limited to the most recent updates you might find at the top of a Google News search, a format better for the rarer breaking stories than authoritative ones getting picked up over and over in brief by multiple news outlets. The pullquote in the HTC vs. Apple-produced tab above is a nice feature, but the content is only barely related to the story.

What the extension lacks the most is the ability to train it. Links offered from the Related bar are +1-able, but if you click the "View More Articles" link from the story above, you get a get a long list of stories from various outlets that can’t be +1′d. This strikes us as a prime opportunity to teach Google Related which sources you trust or would like to see in your related news tab when you visit a news story. Still, true to Google form, Google is collecting statistics on the project, so we may be training it more than we know.

Given Google’s recent "more wood behind fewer arrows" declaration, the only-partially-useful Related is a mystifying addition to the company’s product slate in its current state. The extension is available today for all Chrome users.

This article originally appeared on Ars Technica, Wired’s sister site for in-depth technology news.

Yahoo’s YSlow Page Speed Tool Now Available for Chrome

Every web developer wants to speed up their site, and Yahoo’s YSlow plugin for Firefox is a great way to find out what’s slowing your pages down. Now, Yahoo has announced YSlow for Chrome, which brings all the goodness of YSlow to Google’s popular web browser.

In Firefox YSlow requires (and builds on) the Firebug plugin, but the Chrome version stands on its own. You can grab the new beta version of YSlow for Chrome from the Google Chrome Extension website (note that you’ll need to be using Chrome 10 or better).

Once installed, YSlow for Chrome works just like the Firefox version, with one nice difference — instead of being added to the bottom of the webpage as a kind of frame, YSlow for Chrome floats in its own window, which makes it easier to compare YSlow data from multiple websites.

The Yahoo developer blog notes that the current version of Chrome does not provide extensions access to its network panel. That means that YSlow for Chrome uses Ajax calls to cull its data and provide speed reports. As a result it’s possible that some rules might be affected and differ slightly from what the Firefox version reports. I tested a handful of domains in both Chromium and Firefox and didn’t notice any differences between the two, but be aware that it’s possible there might be some discrepancies.

For more information on how to use YSlow to speed up your websites, see our post, How to Speed Up Your Site With YSlow and Page Speed. Sadly, there’s still no Page Speed add-on for Chrome; Google’s Speed Tracer extension covers similar ground, but you’ll need to jump through some hoops to get it working.

Given Chrome’s already awesome built-in developer tools — which do more or less everything Firebug can do, no extensions necessary — adding YSlow to the mix puts Chrome on par with Firefox when it comes to the best browser for building and debugging your websites.

Illustration from “Physics for Entertainment” by Yakov Isidorovich Perelman from Archive.org

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File Under: Browsers, Multimedia

Chrome Browser to Start Sandboxing Flash Player

The latest developer channel release of the Chrome browser now supports sandboxing for Adobe’s Flash Player on Windows 7, Vista and XP.

This feature should provide extra protection against malicious browser exploits through the Flash Player. The dev channel releases of Chrome on Windows already support sandboxing for HTML rendering and JavaScript execution, two of the most common paths people can use to run malicious code on an unsuspecting user’s machine. Sandboxing keeps these sensitive parts of the browser more secure while still allowing web pages and apps to access the other, less-sensitive parts of the browser.

Windows users on the dev channel should see the update arrive automatically. We should note that the sandbox does have some bugs and may break other parts of the browser — this is a developer release, after all. Once the kinks are ironed out, all of these sandboxing features will begin making their way into proper stable Chrome releases.

Google’s Chromium team has been working with Adobe to build better Flash controls into Chrome, and to utilize Chrome’s sandboxing technology for the plug-in. Google says Wednesday’s update makes Chrome the only browser on XP that sandboxes Flash. For more about sandboxing and how Chrome is implementing it, read the overview post on the Chromium blog from October. Also, Wednesday’s release comes less than a month after Chrome introduced click-to-play controls for Flash and other plug-ins.

Adobe’s Flash Player is the most widely-used browser plug-in on the web, and it’s the dominant choice for video playback and games online. Even so, the technology gets beat up for performance issues and its security shortcomings, and it’s still falling out of favor among standards enthusiasts who are pushing HTML5 as the better solution for displaying multimedia in the browser.

Adobe also released a new beta version of the Flash Player on Wednesday that improves some of its performance issues.

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