Chrome is the first Web browser to simplify the way all of us work with a browser.
Al Fasoldt's reviews and commentaries, continuously available online since 1983

T e c h n o f i l e
Better browsers spawned by WebKit project

March 1, 2009

By Al Fasoldt
Copyright © 2008, Al Fasoldt
Copyright © 2008, The Post-Standard

   Web browsers are getting interesting again.
   Browsers are pretty dull stuff ordinarily. All they're supposed to do is show you what's on a Web page. Getting excited about a Web browser is like getting your kicks from the phone book.
   But "exciting" is a perfect way to describe what's happening at Google, where a new browser called Chrome has been developed. And it fits the mood at the WebKit project, which created the software engine that powers Google's Chrome browser and a few others.
   You can share in that excitement. If you're running Windows, the free Chrome browser is a download away. (A version for Macs isn't ready yet.) Go to www.google.com/chrome to get it.
   Why is Chrome so interesting? It's the first Web browser to simplify the way all of us work with a browser. Since one thing all of us do sooner or later is search, the address bar in Chrome is also the browser's search form. If you're not going to type a Web address, you simply type your search words and hit the Enter key. I wouldn't be surprised if other browsers adopted this method soon.
   Chrome, like Firefox and Safari, is a tabbed browser, letting you open new Web pages in tabbed windows within the browser window. If you've never tried tabbed browsing, you're in for a treat once you switch your habits.
   In Chrome, each tabbed window is independent, assuring you that the page with your sinking stock quotations will stay put if your video of the dancing baby chokes its own window.
   Chrome is also fast -- based on my own tests, I think it's faster than any other browser on the planet. But it's not quite perfect.
   That achievement belongs to the two latest-and-greatest browsers from the WebKit Open Source Project -- one for Windows and one for Macs. WebKit project members are so dedicated to making the world's best browser that they create a new version for Windows and Macs every night. You can get this "nightly build" from http://nightly.webkit.org. Once you have the browser installed, it will notify you of updates. To install the Windows verson of Webkit, you must first install Safari, which it is based on. Get Safari from Apple at www.apple.com/safari/download/. Then follow these instructions, offered by a Webkit user:
   Download the latest build of Webkit. After downloading Webkit and unzipping it, just go and open up a Command Prompt window in the extracted folder. Type WebKit-r30118>run-nightly-webkit.cmd (then press the Enter key, of course) and it will copy all necessary files to your Safari installation folder. After copying, it will launch Safari with the latest Webkit.
   The nightly build for the Mac is the browser I use most of the time. Simply download the Mac version (it's s single file) and drag it to your Applications folder. Then run it from there (or create a dock icon and run that). It's almost as fast as Chrome, and both the Windows and Mac nightly builds are even better than Chrome at showing Web pages the way they were designed to be seen.
   And how is that, you ask? See for yourself.
   You can test any browser's adherence to international Web standards by pointing the browser to http://acid3.acidtests.org. My two Webkit browsers pass the acid test with a score of 100, but all the other browsers I have for Windows and Macs were miserable failures. And, yes, that includes Internet Explorer and Firefox.
   Go test your own browser, then add WebKit to your browsing arsenal. You won't regret it.