It’s been around a month since I pulled the trigger and made the Google Chrome beta channel (which I’ve since upgraded to the dev channel for extension support) the default browser on my Mac. It’s not perfect, but it’s good enough to where I can’t go back to Firefox now as my daily driver.
The three big reasons why Chrome reigns supreme? Speed, more speed, and WebKit. And now that extensions have come over to the Mac, there’s not too terribly many reasons to stick with Firefox anymore.
How I Beat Browser Inertia
I don’t change browsers easily. It took a popup blocker and Microsoft’s neglect of the platform to pull me away from Internet Explorer in early 2002 toward Mozilla 1.0, which I came to really enjoy as a solid, customizable browser that made the Web look quite a bit better than Internet Explorer could show me. I used the Mozilla Suite for several months until the Phoenix project started; this project broke the browser out of the suite as a standalone application, and was very speed-focused. This project, of course, became what was eventually released as Firefox. As I didn’t need the rest of the cruft of the Mozilla Suite (indeed, before Phoenix/Firebird/Firefox came around, I would install just the browser component), Firefox was a perfect fit, and has been until very recently.
Caveats for Developers
WebKit also comes with an extensive set of developer tools, but the version in Google Chrome still seems buggy to me. I also don’t like that the developer tools pop open in a new window — when working on the road without an extra monitor, it becomes somewhat inconvenient to flip windows back and forth (especially on a small 13″ screen). A pane view — like Firebug, or even Safari’s developer tools — would be more effective. Occasionally, I do find myself starting Firefox in development sessions for the express purpose of using Firebug on troublesome pieces of code. Firebug still works the best of all the debuggers out there.
I didn’t start gathering extensions until a few days ago, as Chrome for Mac only very recently got extension support. The two must-haves that I’ve identified so far:
- Type-Ahead Find, an implementation of Firefox’s find-as-you-type feature for Chrome. This lets you simply start typing in a Web page to find phrases — really a great feature, and something I missed initially coming over from Firefox.
- RSS Subscription Extension, which fixes the startling omission of a lack of any RSS discovery/reading features in Chrome. I’m not quite sure why this wasn’t included by default, but I’m glad Google’s developed an extension to remedy this for those who use this feature (such as myself).
Other extensions I’ve installed include a handler to open mailto: links in Gmail and a window resizer — a critical tool for any Web developer’s toolkit. Other than that, though, the core feature set of Chrome is serving me well. Will it serve me for the next several years? Time will tell, but I know one thing: I would have a very tough time switching back to Firefox if I had to.