Google goes into browsers too – challenging Internet Explorer and Firefox and launching the SaaS VM to really challenge the fat client

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Normally important news on IT subjects comes to me via IT media – blogs, discussion forums, newsletters and rumors & gossip. This morning, my newspaper carried the story on Google’s browser initiative: Google Chrome. A web-browser – "that aims to push forward Internet innovation and elevate user expectations". Just what we needed – in a landscape of browers, browser versions and browser ports to various platforms – Google does not choose to put all its weight behind one of the existing open source browser initiatives. Instead, if launches a new browser altogether. However, even though it is a browser, should we consider Chrome as merely a browser initiative?....

Google states "What we really needed was not just a browser, but also a modern
platform for web pages and applications, and that’s what we set out to
build.
" And what this means is that Google takes its efforts to move people from fat client Windows applications to web-based applications (for example Google Docs, Google Maps, etc.). Chrome is not so much about browser marketshare, it is much more about getting the environment to run SaaS style applications. To really break away from Windows.

Google writes in the User Experience – where Chrome is called Chromium? – "In the long term, we think of Chromium as a tabbed window manager or
shell for the web rather than a browser application. We avoid putting
things into our UI in the same way you would hope that Apple and
Microsoft would avoid putting things into the standard window frames of
applications on their operating systems." The intent is clear, the comparison with Apple and Microsoft obvious: this is not about browsers, this is about the ‘environment for running applications’ . What used to the operating system and today is frequently called the virtual machine.

As John Siracusa puts it: "Microsoft’s worst nightmare laid bare. Google has grown tired of the
web browser ghetto, all its applications crowded together into a
single, often unreliable container. "Real" applications don’t have to
put up with this. They live and die on their own terms. Their chrome is
elegant, sleek. They are not mere content presented within another
application. They are prime actors, first-class citizens.

That’s what Google wants for its products, and it’s decided that the
only way to get it—the only way to escape the ghetto of the browser—is
to make a web browser of its own.
"

The rendering engine in Chrome – essential but not what Chrome is about – is WebKit from Apple, proven, light weight & fast and – not to forget – standards compliant. Google pays hommage to both Apple and Firefox communities, thanking them for technology components and the (open source) spirit and pledging to also provide Chrome as an open source product.

Of course it is nice when open source initiatives benefit from each other. However, when Google Chrome picks some cherries from Firefox and continues to develop and deliver a better product – where is the future for Firefox? Googles says:"We hope to collaborate with the entire community to help drive the web forward." I wonder where exactly Firefox (or Opera for that matter) fits in.

One interesting piece on the implementation: " By keeping each tab in an isolated "sandbox", we were able to prevent
one tab from crashing another and provide improved protection from
rogue sites. We improved speed and responsiveness across the board. We
also built V8, a more powerful JavaScript engine
(including compilation of JS instead of plain run-time interpretation), to power the next
generation of web applications that aren’t even possible in today’s
browsers.
"

 

Of course a new browser with interesting new features and even more (modern) standards compliant than previous browsers is an important event. Chrome is not yet ready (it is beta right now) and we will have to see how the adoption outside the real of technology professionals progresses. However, we as web developers will have to take Chrome into our consideration in the near future- or probably starting right now.

The Chrome site contains a series of cartoons that describe the story of how Chrome came to existence and what technology as used. It starts with this picture:

Resources

Google Chrome – Homepage

Straight out of Compton – John Siracusa

Google’s explanation for building Chrome

Andrej’s first impressions of Chrome

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About Author

Lucas Jellema, active in IT (and with Oracle) since 1994. Oracle ACE Director for Fusion Middleware. Consultant, trainer and instructor on diverse areas including Oracle Database (SQL & PLSQL), Service Oriented Architecture, BPM, ADF, Java in various shapes and forms and many other things. Author of the Oracle Press book: Oracle SOA Suite 11g Handbook. Frequent presenter on conferences such as JavaOne, Oracle OpenWorld, ODTUG Kaleidoscope, Devoxx and OBUG. Presenter for Oracle University Celebrity specials.

11 Comments

  1. I agree twice ;-) Once with gartner and once with jan. I do think that if you can use standards like html, css, and javascript, why use flex or silverlight. Unfortunattely regarding graphics flex and silverlight are currently a lot better than html. But usability wise, html is often better implemented. For example, i hardly see flex sites that easily enable you to change font size, but in html this is build into the browser.

  2. “Always nice to see that Gartner agrees with my point of view….” yeah, because Gartner has proven to be right all the time. ;-) Sorry just couldn’t resist.

  3. New blogpost on this topic: Client Server 2.0. The current trend is from server generated user interfaces (using jsp and jsf) to javascript generated user interfaces. That why we need new browsers, it’s what’s hosting all those clients. And that’s why jsf is old school, it’s still terminal-server-2.0

  4. “but for what use is it for Oracle developers”
    Depends whether they are Oracle developers using Apex or Oracle developers using JDeveloper.

  5. Just read this artikle: http://weblog.infoworld.com/yager/archives/2008/09/skip_googles_ch.html.
    His main point is that the web technologies (html, css and javascript) are turning into great technologies for creating desktop applications. Which is also what adobe is doing with AIR.
    And i think he’s right, i really like the web api’s, much more than i like swing api’s for example. It’s not just possible to create complete application using web api’s, they’re also really nice api’s for creating applications.
    Even if i could achieve the same results using JSF, i’d probably prefer plain HTML/CSS/Javascript. They’re just so much simpler.
    I recenty created a desktop database application using google gears and html/javascript, and i see a real future for html on the desktop.
    This makes google chrome’s ‘create a shortcut’, and mozilla’s prism also interesting technologies to keep an eye on.

  6. Andrej, ik denk dat je gelijk hebt. De applicaties gaan weer in de browser draaien of op de desktop. Het maakt niet meer uit. Flex is nu opensource (AIR) , Java FX is gerealesed and Micky heeft Silverlight uitgebracht. Met tuscany ( SCA Java ) kan vervolgens alles als service beschikbaar gemaakt worden en de applicatie server krijgt het nog gemakkelijker ook, het hoeft alleen de services te hosten. Met Oracle 11g mag je een beste server aanschaffen als je een paar honderd gebruikers wil ondersteunen.

  7. There are two reasons why I like Flex:

    1: you can create really attractive and userfriendly applications with it
    2: it runs in a proper virtual machine.

    The web wasn’t designed to be a application platform, so browsers aren’t either. Google stepped up and build the browser with that in mind. This is a very importent step for the web. Google isn’t challenging firefox and IE (and opera etc), but challenging Flex and Silverlight.

    But as Andrej pointed out above: This chrome thing is all very nice, but for what use is it for Oracle developers? They also want to create desktop like experience on the web.
    ADF 11, it is just like Duke Nukem Forever: For years they promise us a great game, but we’re still not able to play it…
    (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Duke_Nukem_Forever)

  8. Just a comment on using ADF 11g on Chrome. Last nigth I installed google chrome (Was I the first one ?) and one of the things I did is trying out the ADF 11g rich client demo …………….I was sad (but not so surprised) to find out that this did not work at all. Here we go on support again. What will our clients ask ? Firefox, IE, Opera AND Chrome ?? That will be fun !

  9. We gaan steeds meer en meer complete applicaties bouwen in de browser, dat zie je niet alleen aan de ‘proces per tab’ concept in google chrome (hij laat zelfs zien hoeveel memory iedere web applicatie gebruikt), maar ook aan het feit dat alle browsers bezig zijn de performance van javascript te verbeteren.

    Het model van de toekomst is mvc in je browser, slecht communicatie met services op je applicatie server. Web page generatie op de server wordt zo overbodig.

    Hieruit blijkt maar weer eens dat oracle dik achter de feiten aanloopt. Was jsf met ajax de laatste jaren nog hip, nu oracle dan ook eindelijk een jsf versie met ajax gaat uitbrengen, komt de volgende ontwikkeling er al weer aan. Hoe lang gaat het nog duren voordat oracle ook hierop een antwoord heeft. Het is echt genant dat het implementeren van iets simpels als autosuggest in de hudige versie van adf faces nog veel handwerk vergt, terwijl dit met wat jquery componenten 5 minuten werk is. Een ander belangrijk punt: voor jquery zijn honderden componenten te vinden, voor adf faces zijn bijna geen 3rd party componenten te vinden. JSF componenten bouwen is te complex. En combineren met andere jsf implementaties is eigenlijk not done. Zaken als adf skinning blijken dan compleet niet meer te werken.

    Javascript programmeren heeft de toekomst.