Printed from http://www.electronista.com

Open-source Google Chrome browser based on Webkit

updated 01:10 am EDT, Tue September 2, 2008

Google Chrome browser

Google this weekend accidentaly leaked details -- via an online comic book -- on its upcoming cross-platform open-source browser: Google Chrome -- which it claims will deliver a streamlined and improved interface along with performance improvements and security enhancements; the new browser is based on both Apple's Webkit, the core of the Safari browser, and Firefox, the rapidly growing alternative browser, but will square off against Microsoft's Internet Explorer, which dominates the internet, but continues to play catch up with security flaws and compatibility. The beta version of Google Chrome, only for for PCs initially, is expected to ship on Tuesday in more than 100 countries, while Mac and Linux versions are in development.

"On the surface, we designed a browser window that is streamlined and simple. To most people, it isn't the browser that matters. It's only a tool to run the important stuff -- the pages, sites and applications that make up the web," the company wrote in its blog. "Like the classic Google homepage, Google Chrome is clean and fast. It gets out of your way and gets you where you want to go."

The company claims that it separates each tab or visited website in its own "sandbox," a private secure environment that keeps information from other sites: it not only protects privacy, but also offers better stability and performance, the search giant claimed. The user interface will allow a tab to be created "incognito," a privacy mode that will not log any of the activity onto the computer, cookies are wiped out and history is not saved when it is closed.

The company will "sandbox" plugins into their own process and also focus on improving JavaScript, which is used to build and deploy a variety of advanced features on. Google plans on using a separate JavaScript virtual machine that generates machine code, directly using the capabilities of the CPU for optimal performance.

Another benefit of sandboxing, according to the comic, is that the rights for each process are reduced, not allowing malware to install itself on a computer or affect what is happening in another tab. According to the engineers, the processes "can compute but they can't write files to your hard drive or read files from sensitive areas like your documents or desktop." The user must give explicit permission for high level access.

"We improved speed and responsiveness across the board. We also built a more powerful JavaScript engine, V8, to power the next generation of web applications that aren't even possible in today's browsers," Google said.

Google's comic pointed out that current browsers can be affected by fragmented memory, pushing the browser closer to a crash as the user opens new tabs and closes old tabs, even though they might only have a few open at one time. Without the ability to separate the processes, if one thing goes wrong, the whole browser is liable to crash. Chrome's multi-process approach will allow each tab to run individual independent processes- if one tab fails, the browser recognizes the problem, ends the process in that tab, but the others retain function.

Even within one tab, when the user switches from site to site, Chrome will completely switch the process and reclaim the memory. If a slow-down occurs, a task manager can be opened to see exactly what pages or even what plugins are hogging memory, CPU power, or bandwidth.

Google also hoped that its efforts will begin to address the lingering performance and compatibility issues that face a wide variety of cross-platform browsers by using an automatic testing -- an internet "bot" -- to check and test millions of the most popular pages each week (based on Google PageRank).

During the testing thus far, Google has used Webkit to run page layout tests. When the project began it was only passing 23 percent of the tests. "Moving from there to 99 percent has been a fun challenge and an interesting example of test-driven design" said Pam Greene, one of the project software engineers.

The choice of Apple's Webkit was no coincidence. Google claimed they were attracted to the speed potential. When the Chrome team consulted the Android engineers and asked them why they chose Webkit, they responded "it uses memory efficiently, was easily adapted to embedded devices, and it was easy for new browser developers to learn to make the code base work."

Much like Apple did with Safari on the iPhone, Google will use Chrome as part of its Android mobile platform and hopes that its use of Google Gears, a plug-in that extends the standard browser experience, will help developers deliver native-app like performance over the Web with cross-platform compatibility.



By Electronista Staff
toggle

Comments

  1. archie

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: Sep 2008

    0

    Static HTML pages

    Wouldn't a browser that runs each TAB in a separate process be quite CPU and memory intensive?
    What if the page was only a static HTML page (wouldn't this be overkill and possibly slower)? Guess will have to wait and see when the release it.

  1. jedimstr

    Junior Member

    Joined: Nov 2003

    0

    Firefox uses Webkit???

    ∫Apple's Webkit, the core of the Safari browser, and Firefox, ∫
    Ummm... Firefox uses the Mozilla Gecko engine, not Webkit.

  1. Guest

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: Nov 1999

    +1

    Webkit and Firefox

    It's uses elements of both webkit and firefox.

  1. PBG4 User

    Senior User

    Joined: Feb 2001

    0

    Uses Webkit

    They use Apple's Webkit, then aren't even nice enough to do an initial release on OS X?

  1. DeezNutts

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: Apr 2008

    +2

    Re: Uses Webkit

    "They use Apple's Webkit, then aren't even nice enough to do an initial release on OS X?"

    Webkit is based on KHTML and Apple wasn't nice enough to do an initial release of Safari on Linux or even bother releasing a Linux version of safari at all.

  1. testudo

    Forum Regular

    Joined: Aug 2001

    -2

    Re: uses webkit

    Well, for a beta, why waste the time making it for Mac users, who'll only complain that it isn't Mac-like, has UI issues, is incomplete, and asking "why did they even bother?".

  1. randombob

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: Jun 2007

    +2

    Accidental?

    How was it an accidental leak? I was pretty sure the comic was supposed to /was designed to spill the beans.

  1. testudo

    Forum Regular

    Joined: Aug 2001

    +1

    Re: Static HTML


    Wouldn't a browser that runs each TAB in a separate process be quite CPU and memory intensive?


    Not by much. And with today's multi-core processors and massive default memory, its probably a worthwhile trade-off (except those who, for some reason, feel having as much free memory as possible is a good thing, as opposed to it being just wasted space, which is how OS X sees it).

    What if the page was only a static HTML page (wouldn't this be overkill and possibly slower)? Guess will have to wait and see when the release it.

    I don't know why it would be slower. Actually, as a separate process, one would think it would be quicker, since it would let the OS slice the processor time. If you're running under one process, then you're either having to manually multi-task your tabs already, or forking off processes to handle the page generation. Either way, you're already basically making extra processes. By just doing it wholesale, it just relieves the software from having to do too much accounting/housekeeping.

    Plus, if you follow their concept, by doing new processes, they actually keep the software from building up too much memory that often occur from memory leaks (which every browser seems to have - leave many tabs open for several hours, and the memory footprint seems to grow huge).

  1. testudo

    Forum Regular

    Joined: Aug 2001

    -2

    Re: Static HTML


    Wouldn't a browser that runs each TAB in a separate process be quite CPU and memory intensive?


    Not by much. And with today's multi-core processors and massive default memory, its probably a worthwhile trade-off (except those who, for some reason, feel having as much free memory as possible is a good thing, as opposed to it being just wasted space, which is how OS X sees it).

    What if the page was only a static HTML page (wouldn't this be overkill and possibly slower)? Guess will have to wait and see when the release it.

    I don't know why it would be slower. Actually, as a separate process, one would think it would be quicker, since it would let the OS slice the processor time. If you're running under one process, then you're either having to manually multi-task your tabs already, or forking off processes to handle the page generation. Either way, you're already basically making extra processes. By just doing it wholesale, it just relieves the software from having to do too much accounting/housekeeping.

    Plus, if you follow their concept, by doing new processes, they actually keep the software from building up too much memory that often occur from memory leaks (which every browser seems to have - leave many tabs open for several hours, and the memory footprint seems to grow huge).

  1. ibugv4

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: Jun 2003

    +1

    Chrome needs polish

    Google knows Mac users are the pickiest of the bunch. They won't give it to us until the Linux and Windows world have hammered out the bugs. We only get the polished Chrome, where then others will have to have their dents and scratches repaired :)

Login Here

Not a member of the MacNN forums? Register now for free.

toggle

Network Headlines

toggle

Most Popular

Sponsor

Recent Reviews

Epson PowerLite Home Cinema 2030 projector

With high-definition televisions now the standard, 4K televisions becoming the next big thing, and plasma TVs going the way of the din ...

Life n Soul 8 Driver Bluetooth headphones

When it comes to music on the go, consumers generally have some options to consider when looking for the best experience. While Blueto ...

Tesoro Tizona G2N Elite gaming keyboard

The market for gaming keyboards is getting crowded, starting off with some fairly simple keyboards and diverging into the land of modu ...

Sponsor

toggle

Most Commented

 
toggle

Popular News