Google’s New Browser – What Does It Mean?

By now you’ve probably all heard about the release of Google’s new browser, Chrome. Whilst I generally like Google products, I wasn’t overly excited by this release. Firstly its currently only available to Windows OS and as I’m generally on a Mac I can’t help feeling a little left out (thankfully Macs are smart enough to run Windows too!) I’ve been using Firefox for some time now and on the whole have been happy with my browsing functionality (although admittedly I wasn’t very impressed with the latest Firefox update to the browser look and feel).

Nevertheless I must admit after trying Chrome out there are a few cool features which aren’t offered by the other browsers. The ability to type keywords OR URL’s into the address bar is one of those. You can check out the other features on the Chrome page or on the thousands of blogs out there comparing browser features.

Chrome’s Meaning for Developers (and clients)
Today I’m more interested in raising the question of what another browser means for those of us working in the online space. In short, unfortunately at present it’s likely to mean more work and hand in hand with that, more cost.

When developing a website now, there are already a number of browsers that must be considered and included in the test plan. As most browsers render items differently there are always some teaks to be made to ensure the site looks as consistent as possible amongst the different browsers. Many developers will now test a new website across IE6, IE7 and Firefox and sometimes will test across Firefox and Safari for Macs. Add Chrome to that list and it means another item in the test plan, and another round of potential fixes.

According to this site, current browser usage is divided up as shown (excluding Chrome):

Browser Stats

Browser Stats

It will be interesting to see how this evolves once Chrome takes hold.

Will My Site Render Correctly?
I did a bit of digging around and compared sites displaying in Firefox and Chrome to identify any core differences. I must admit I had to visit a handful of sites before I noticed anything other than the font rendering slightly differently (more jagged) in Chrome. Here is one example of a site where some visual differences occur:

Nestle on Firefox

Nestle on Firefox

Nestle on Chrome

Nestle on Chrome

If you click on the images above you will be able to see a larger size image. The key differences here are the flash header isn’t showing in Chrome. You will also see some differences in the right hand side drop down look and feel, however in this case Chrome is actually displaying this the same as IE, Firefox is the odd one out here.

I’m sure information will be available to developers to assist them in building sites to show correctly on Chrome, but in the meantime it might be worth checking out your site yourself.

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