23 SEP

Google Chrome Frame

Google Chrome Frame brings Chrome's rendering and JavaScript engines to Internet Explorer via a browser plugin. The Google Chrome browser is based on WebKit, an open source browser engine. As Google puts it:

With Google Chrome Frame, developers can now take advantage of the latest open web technologies, even in Internet Explorer. From a faster Javascript engine, to support for current web technologies like HTML5's offline capabilities and <canvas>, to modern CSS/Layout handling, Google Chrome Frame enables these features within IE with no additional coding or testing for different browser versions.

Developing websites at present generally involves testing in standards-based browsers (such as Firefox, Opera, Safari and Chrome) which are usually consistent, and then testing in Internet Explorer. There then follows many hours of implementing fixes to work around the limitations and rendering quirks of the various versions of Internet Explorer. While the seasoned web developer can pre-empt some of these issues, there is still the occasional nasty surprise.

Too Good To Be True?

I don't want to get my hopes up too much, given the issues of mass adoption of such a plugin (especially in the enterprise), but this has potential to make IE compatibility issues go away. If it works, this is almost a dream come true, picking up IE by the scruff of the neck and dragging it up to the level of modern browsers.

If this approach is not directly effective, it certainly sends a much needed message to Microsoft, who have been seriously lagging in the adoption of web standards and of new, open, emerging technologies.

A Final Thought

Google Wave currently requires the Google Chrome Frame plugin in order to work in Internet Explorer. This makes me wonder how long it may be until GMail requires it too, at least to get full functionality. Given the significance of the GMail user base, perhaps this is their route to mass adoption.

04 AUG

Fingertips Makes it into Webuser Magazine's Best New Websites

Fingertips in Webuser Magazine
Fingertips in Webuser Magazine

Issue 219 of Webuser Magazine features the Fingertips website in its Best New Websites!

After spending many months on the development of Fingertips, it makes me proud to see the accolade in print.

Webuser Magazine, on Fingertips:

Online news is delivered so speedily and frequently that it's difficult to know what to read first. Now there's help at hand from Fingertips, a customisable service that gathers stories from around the world and the web in one place. Register and you can edit Fingertips to suit your tastes.

Webuser Magazine, Issue 219

22 MAY

A Quick Update

To say the very least, work has been pretty hectic over the last six months. I've been involved with some very exciting projects which I hope to detail here very soon!

One of these projects has just been launched: Fingertips - Your personal online newspaper. Feel free to check it out!

27 OCT

Getting Things Done

Despite the current gloomy economic climate, this winter looks like it's going to be a very busy one for me. So much so in fact that I've had to re-think much of my day-to-day workflow.

I have put into place some of the aspects of GTD (Getting Things Done), a system devised and popularised by David Allan.

In a nutshell, GTD is about implementing procedures to record everything that needs to be done in a trusted system. This allows you to keep your mind clear for other tasks, such as doing the actual work.

Not all of the GTD workflow applies to website design and development, but it's still very useful, especially for getting the housekeeping in order.

I've also adopted an automated time logging and billing system. Estimating, invoicing and accounts are now a breeze. This is a great relief for me as a freelancer as this allows me to focus on the work and not the overheads.

I'd recommend GTD to anyone looking to bring control to hectic schedules and lifestyles in which there never seems to be enough hours in the day. A mind free of clutter is a productive one indeed.

03 SEP

Google Chrome

Google have released their very own web browser called “Chrome”, which was announced just a couple of days ago on the Google Blog. The new browser isn't quite finished yet and has the inevitable Beta label, but it's now available for download. Only a Windows version is available at the moment, but Mac OS X and Linux versions are in development.

The browser is open source and contains components from both Mozilla Firefox and Webkit (the foundation of Apple's Safari browser), both of which are also open source.

The browser has been specifically designed to handle modern web-based applications well. Of course, Google knows a thing or two about web applications, so it was just a matter of time before they released their own browser. As you would expect, it also integrates Gears.

Some interesting ideas have gone into making Chrome. They have produced a lengthy comic strip detailing its features. Here are a few of them:

Process Isolation

Each tab or browser window runs in its own isolated process so that a problem in one tab will not crash the whole browser. They have even built a task manager that operates much like what you find in modern operating systems.

All these concurrent processes increase memory usage, so Google have implemented some advanced Garbage collection to try to offset that.

New “V8” JavaScript Virtual Machine

The efficiency of JavaScript execution is becoming more and more important with the prevalence of web-based applications, and because of this, Google have developed a JavaScript virtual machine called “V8”. JavaScript is traditionally executed by an interpreter, which can be slow for complex tasks. The new "V8" virtual machine compiles JavaScript source code into machine code on the fly. This should significantly boost efficiency and performance.

Minimal Interface

The interface is very minimal, featuring just the basics needed to get by. There is no traditional application menu, bookmark toolbar or internet search field.

The tab system is interesting because it is positioned above the address bar and navigation buttons. This is arguably more logical than what is found in most other browsers as the tab encapsulates everything associated with it.

Chrome certainly looks promising, and I look forward to putting it through its paces.