I have been making my living doing “Internetty” things for at least the past decade. Browsers are an integral part of the internet experience, and a critical tool for any web developer. I suspect most folks simply use the default browser on their operating system (Safari on Macs, Internet Explorer on Windows) and don’t give it much thought. Some savvier users choose something different, usually Firefox, but increasingly they’re turning to Google’s Chrome browser.
Internet professionals tend to keep a collection of browsers and use different ones for different purposes. I happen to run Linux on my work machine, with Firefox as my primary development and browsing browser. Chrome is used for secondary testing and more internally utilitarian type of stuff like accessing our Google Docs and internal billing and task utilities.
I love Chrome. It’s fast. It extends well. It’s reliable. And like any other human endeavor, it’s not perfect.
Chrome has a number flaws that prevent it from being “number one” in my eyes. (I say that as I work on my home machine, running Windows, typing this into Firefox.)
So in no particular order, here are my major complaints with Chrome (yes, they’re geeky, nit-picky and developer-centric):
- Greedy caching – Chrome loves to cache stuff, but sometimes likes to hold onto it even after you’ve said to get rid of it. This is great for most people. It’s efficient and saves bandwidth. It’s bad for developers when they’re developing because they need to be sure they’re seeing the latest iteration of code.
- Non-web addresses like “something.dev” (as opposed to “something.com”) go to search instead of the site requested. sure, if I type the “http://” in front of the address, Google will go there. And there’s a lame “did you mean http://something.com” message sometimes. Google, nobody types the http:// if they don’t have to. Please change the browser to try non-traditional addresses like “http://something.dev” as an actual site through DNS first. If you don’t find it, then hit up search.
- “Broken” Security certificates are impossible to add permanently. Firefox does this perfectly. If you’re on a site where the certificate is broken, it gives you all sorts of stern warnings, but allows you to accept that certificate as valid. It’s there, two or three layers in, but you can permanently (not the default setting) accept that certificate. Normally, broken or invalid certificates are a very bad thing and should not be accepted. For web developers, however, they’re necessary in a lot of local development environments and perfectly safe. It would be irresponsible and silly for any browser to simply accept broken or invalid certificates, especially without asking first. But it’s equally It’s silly to not allow those who really know what they are doing and need to accept the occasional development certificate permanently as a matter of convenience the ability to do so. Please change this.
For most people, none of these items are an issue at all. They don’t come up and they don’t affect browser use. Many are there for very good reasons. For a developer, though, they can really get in the way. Not having the option to change these things will keep Chrome at the back of the heap in my mind. Having options will change that.
Oh and Internet Explorer in pretty much any form is near-universally hated by web developers. It’s quite simply a huge pain to work with. I know when I’m doing testing, I make sure it works in Firefox, Chrome, and Safari. Once that’s in place, it’s time to take a deep breath, perhaps a stiff drink, and then test and start the workarounds to make things work in Internet Explorer.
Chrome, please stop making me have to do Internet Explorer style workarounds (actually Internet Explorer doesn’t have a greedy cache and allows permanent certificate acceptance). All I’m asking for it a little more flexibility, please, with proper safeguards to protect the uninitiated from putting themselves in danger.
In the meantime, if you’re a “regular” user who needs a consistently excellent browser (Chrome works on Windows, Linux, OS X, and Android) I highly recommend it. Curious? Here’s a link: https://www.google.com/intl/en/chrome/