Lovin’ The ‘fox
As many of you will know I am a keen web developer and love to play with new technology. When Google Chrome first came out I was a bit hesitant to jump ship from my beloved Firefox to a brand new and pretty much untested platform for a number of reasons such as plugin availability, customisation, sheer love of the ‘fox etc. Firefox had it all, the swanky plugins that made my life easier like AdBlock, the awesome themes like Noia and best of all I could feel smug in the knowledge that other lesser web users were still “surfing” the net with crumby IE – so really they were “boogie-boarding in virus-ridden sewerage” at best.
Fast = Shiny and Nothing is as Shiny as Chrome
I cannot use the web without AdBlock because I *HATE ADVERTS THAT MUCH* so it wasn’t until Chrome started getting plugin support that I finally decided to check it out. There was this bare-bones browser window with none of my usual menus or buttons and my first reaction was “Hey, where’s all my stuff? I don’t like this!”. I think it was about version 4 that I started to use Chrome.
What drew me in and kept me using Chrome for browsing was the speed at which it launched and the speed at which websites were rendered in comparison to Firefox. They were fast, I mean REALLY fast. By comparison Firefox just seemed to get slower and slower. Starting up Firefox was becoming a long drawn-out process and on some computers I’ve seen it take so long you could actually make a cup of coffee whilst it loads. Whilst I doubt that in the coffee case it was actually Firefox that was causing the problem, Chrome did not suffer so badly even on that steaming heap of a computer.
I’m currently running a solid-state drive that actually uses RAM to store the HD content. This is used as my boot drive and a place to store frequent use apps (such as web-browsers). My drive C is only 32GB because that was all I could afford; at the time 32GB in 8x4GB sticks was about £1,500. This makes my drive C excessively fast. Even with this in place, Firefox still takes 2.5 seconds to load, whereas Chrome appears instantly (yes I mean blink-of-an-eye instant).
V8 Rules the World
V8 is like a dream-come-true for web developers. It is very fast, stable and super-easy to use. It makes stuff that used to crash IE (such as iterating through millions of array items) run so fast that it feels like you can finally spend more time coding to achieve something than you do trying to optimise it. Obviously we don’t live in a web-utopia where everyone is using the most up-to-date modern powerhouse browser so there still has to be some trade-off, but some polite reminders in each app you write informing your users that they are using a sucky browser really will go a long way to converting the millions of users still living in the browser dark ages. It is SHAMEFUL to see that the UK still has a 2.6% usage of IE6. Urrgh!
Anyway back in the real world, V8 is used in lots of cool places outside of Chrome such as Node.js and the Android OS. Expect to see it popping up all over the place!
So Firefox Sucks Then?
Firefox DOES NOT SUCK. It is one of the greatest browsers ever made and the folks at Mozilla are truely the main reason why we have a functioning world-wide-web today. Imagine a web where apps were slow, where everything you did that you needed realtime response from had to be an ActiveX object, where Flash could crash and all your other browser windows would crash with it. That is how the web would be today if Mozilla hadn’t challenged Microsoft to put an end to their train-wreck of a browser.
BUT… much like IE, Firefox has become more bloated and slower over time which is a real shame. Honestly a lot of what Firefox offers is great but it seems that Chrome can do it WAY faster.
I know that Mozilla is reacting to this criticism and has committed to releasing faster iterations of their browser and I believe I read somewhere that they are working to make it load faster too. I hope they do! I started loving the web when Firefox came along, saw the movie, spread the word, even bought a T-Shirt but for now, Chrome is king.