Switch from Firefox to Google Chrome

I’ve pretty much made the switch from Firefox to Google Chrome for the time being.  There are still a few things I like better about Firefox but Google Chrome finally broke past the showstoppers and added a few plus points on its side as well.  First I wanna show you a screenshot of me running maximized Chrome on my Fedora LXDE/Openbox Desktop.

Google Chrome maximized on LXDE/Openbox Desktop

Google Chrome showing Reuters webpage

The draws of Chrome:

  1. It is fast.
  2. It runs Google sites like Gmail, Google Docs, etc very fast
  3. It has a simplified* user interface that I like**

* It is only actually simplified when maximized on linux, when a floating window the top window decoration looks funky and weird to my eye.

** I only like it when maximized and thus probably won’t run it windowed.

The things that it didn’t have but now does which were preventing me from switching.

  1. Rikaichan- For Google Chrome the port of this Firefox extension is called Rikaikun
  2. Mouse gestures- I’m not actually using these because they’re poorly executed, but it was a showstopper for me initially.

The biggest thing for me is the funky window decoration being pretty much fixed. Even if only when maximized, that’s good enough for me.  As you can see in the screenshot the UI of Google Chrome is sleek, minimal, functional, and incorporates my system theme so it doesn’t look like an alien visitor on my LXDE/Openbox desktop.

Firefox still holds all the straws when it comes to customization features, i.e. anything and everything can be changed.  Chrome however starts with a good enough interface that you really don’t need that as much.  Extensions are also still better on Firefox, but I think this is just because they’ve been around for a lot longer, given some time most of the big ones will be ported to Chrome, like Rikaichan.

It’s about time that the search bar and address bar became the same thing.  They’ve been pseudo-combined for a long time, full integration between the two seems like a perfectly logical next step and it saves several hundred square pixels of screen space (critical for small screens like my laptop).  Moving the menubar into two drop menus to the right side of the search bar is unorthodox but it works.  The filebar isn’t the most common destination in a web browser.  I’m sure this messed up the workflow for the slightly less keyboard shortcut literate intermediate users, but in my opinion the screen space saved by this move is well worth the workflow confusion (I say this mostly because it didn’t bother me much personally).

Another thing I really like about Chrome is the default new tab screen.  This is very similar to something Opera has had for a while and I had installed on Firefox as an extension called Speed Dial.  Except, Chrome does it even better.  They include recently closed sites, most frequently visited sites (the algorithm for determining this seems to be a bit unintelligent at the moment, but I’m sure it will improve) as well as bookmarks.  I really like this placement of the bookmarks toolbar instead of as a persistent toolbar.  Again this is a workflow difference but I feel the screen space savings are worth the change.  I actually find myself using the bookmarks bar now whereas I wasn’t at all before (I had it removed to save screen real estate).

Basically I still have three standing complaints about Chrome that aren’t quite enough to keep me from using it.

  1. Flyovers, a.k.a. tooltips, a.k.a. ALT text shows up at the bottom of the screen and doesn’t seem to have an option to move this to under the link as is standard in most other browsers.  I feel like this should be a choice.
  2. Mouse gesture extensions will only give you gestures if you’re willing to sacrifice the ability to single right click for your normal (non-gesture) right click menu.  This only applies to Linux and Mac apparently, but I fall into that group.
  3. The window decoration is still ugly and stupid when windowed/unmaximized.

Basically, I’ve been giving this a lot of time to grow on me.  I’ve been a devout Netscape/Mozilla/Firefox user for… 15 years or so now.  Still waiting for Midori or Epiphany to catch up to the big guys in terms of language and basic fundamental web technology support.  They’re kicking butt in speed and minimalism but poor support for Flash, and other common web application software is a major show stopper for me.


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