Would Like to Switch to Chrome, but ...

December 26, 2008 at 12:05 PMBen

I spent a couple of days using Chrome as my primary browser.  Chrome came out of beta on December 11th, and its version number is already over 1.0.  There's a number of nice things I like about Chrome, but for now, I've switched back to Firefox.

There's two big things I like about Chrome.  I like how each tab runs as in its own isolated process within Windows.  I leave my browser open all day, usually with Gmail open in one tab at a minimum.  Not all the memory from closed tabs in Firefox seems to get reclaimed and firefox.exe usually shows up using around 150 KB of memory mid-day even if only Gmail is open at that time.  Firefox 3 is supposed to be a lot better than Firefox 2 for preventing memory leaks, and I'm sure it is.  150 KB of memory is not a big deal, either.  But the Chrome architecture of running each tab as its own process has the big advantage of basically guaranteeing all memory used for a tab will be completely reclaimed once that tab is closed.

The other big item I like about Chrome is how you can easily drag a tab out of the Chrome window into a new Chrome window.  Especially if you have multiple monitors, this is a really great feature when you want to see two or more tabs at the same time.  I was breaking the tabs out into separate windows when composing an email in a web interface or when typing messages on forums / blogs.  I could compose my messages while seeing other information I'm referencing in the other Chrome window at the same time very easily.  After I was done composing, I would drag the tab back into the main Chrome window.

I'm back to Firefox now as a primary browser because of some features not yet available in Chrome.  The big one being Firebug.  I didn't realize how often I right-click on an element to inspect it in Firebug, check the Net tab, etc.  I also like how when you change the text size in Firefox (i.e. zooming text), how Firefox remembers the size you last had when coming back to a website.  In Chrome, you have to adjust the text size again every time you go back to a website.  Also, URLs in the status bar when you hover your mouse over a link are often truncated because the space Chrome allocates to show the URL in the statusbar seems to be a fixed width.  There's actually a lot of extra room to show the entire URL, and I hope this gets resolved soon.

So for now, Chrome is not yet ready for prime time (for me).  Google is of course working on lots of improvements for Chrome.  This includes adding an extensions framework so people can start developing extensions for Chrome.  I haven't heard of any type of Firebug for Chrome initiative, but for me, something like this would add mega value to Chrome.  I plan on sticking with Firefox which has treated me well, but checking back on Chrome every once in a while.

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