Does it GTK/QT/Win32 Really Matter for Chrome?

128px-GoogleChromeLogo.pngA recent article on OSNews highlights the changes expected to come in Google’s Chrome 2.0 for Windows and the progress being made on the Linux and OS X fronts for Google’s new browser.

In the article, Ben Goodger, lead Chrome UI developer, states

[Google avoids] cross platform UI toolkits because while they may offer what superficially appears to be a quick path to native looking UI on a variety of target platforms, once you go a bit deeper it turns out to be a bit more problematic.” [… Your applications end up] speaking with a foreign accent.

But there’s something we’re not getting here. Obviously given enough brilliant programmers and a good team lead to keep the different codebases in sync, going with native APIs is the better approach. But the reasons Goodger is offering aren’t very convincing.

The problem is…. Google’s Chrome for Windows doesn’t look native. In fact, it’s about as far from native Win32 as you can get. We had originally explained away the non-win32 looks by assuming it was because Google wanted an interface that was consistent across the different platforms and different at the same time from any of the operating systems native UI toolkits: in line with Google’s vision of turning the browser into an OS, regardless of the platform beneath.

A non-native UI that looks the same on Mac, Windows, and Linux would be the answer to such a browser OS. It would indicate that Chrome is its own product – from the codebase to the user experience – and that to the end user it shouldn’t matter what OS you’re on. And that in the future Google could ship a standalone (OS-free) browser that looks like Chrome and acts like Chrome, regardless of the platform beneath?

Otherwise there is no good explanation for the horrendously-different user interface that comes with Chrome. It requires learning the tips & tricks to a whole new UI, and forgetting a number of “niceties” you may have been accustomed to (such as pressing the ‘spacebar’ to OK pop-up dialogs, etc.).

With the preliminary screenshots of Chrome for Mac, the platform Chrome runs on begins to peek through.

Does this mean that Google’s vision of Chrome as its own OS has come to pass – with Google now content to just launch a cross-platform browser without attempting to lull users away from the platforms they’ve come to love?

Whatever the case, it’s sure to be interesting watching and waiting to see what Google has planned for its users. Whether its a cross-platform browser experience that’s different enough to be the same across all platforms while retaining a feel of the platform or if it’s paving the way for the OS to come it’s quite obvious that the gears are now in motion and something big just might happen.

  • Similar Posts

    Craving more? Here are some posts a vector similarity search turns up as being relevant or similar from our catalog you might also enjoy.
    1. Apple's New Animation Framework
    2. Internet Explorer 7 RC1 Review & Open Search
    3. Internet of the Future I: Blending the Browser
    4. Firefox 1.5 Beta 1
    5. A Cool Look at the Future Three
  • 8 thoughts on “Does it GTK/QT/Win32 Really Matter for Chrome?

    1. You ask a fair question.
      Maybe what he meant wasn’t aesthetic, but performance “accents.” I suspect Chrome’s nativeness partly why it’s so fast. (The Javascript engine deserves some credit, but anybody who uses Chrome a lot knows it’s more than that, especially on non-Javascript pages.)
      Even if it doesn’t *look* native, Chrome feels better than native. As a Linux fangirl, I begrudgingly concede the amazing performance and feel of Chrome on Windows, and will happily wait as they build from scratch for Linux (rather than go over Wine as they have with Picasa for Linux).
      After I used Chrome, other apps on other OS’s felt second-rate to me. (Also, most the pet shortcuts burned in my brain from Firefox work for me on Chrome.)
      Props to the Chrome folks for taking the time to do the legwork on 3 different OS’s. We may end up with the first cross-platform toolkit that doesn’t compromise speed.

    2. From the mailinglist Ben Goodger “Lead UI developer” gives the impression that he doesn’t actually know that much about making a cross platform UI. He has been on the project after two and half years and only now is learning that his Windows code wont work on Linux and Mac. He seems oblivious and one really has to wonder why he is the lead.

      “First of all let me generally comment that this entire situation is a clusterf*ck. I am not happy with the technical constraints imposed by Linux and its assorted UIs on Chrome’s UI and feature set.”
      -Ben Goodger

    3. Well at the moment Chrome looks like a web page rendered in Firefox. I must say it’s thin, but occasional crashes made me remove it. It was fast indeed, just like any other Webkit based browsers.

      I’m sure Google is gonna push the concept of an OS via the browser. One by one Desktop Software are moving to web , e.g. Google Docs. So sometime in the future most of the tools we use should be accessible from a browser in any platform making the web truly platform independent. One thing I still don’t understand is the need of Chrome in the already crowded browser market.

    4. The reason google created “chrome” is because web browsers have been the same for years just adding in new things as they came to life. Google decided to start from scratch and build a browser that meets the requirements for todays browsing experience. Also this is my opinion but look at what google has released, (email, documents, reader, photos, calendar, and a laundry list of other products. They are trying to create something that will keep all of those things together to make it easier to access) Like I said my opinion, but from what I noticed when I did use windows before making the leap of faith to linux is that it is alot faster. It my not be noticable with high speed connnections, but me here being stuck in iraq with satellite internet at 2k a sec see how much faster it really is, the jave engine and the cache system are really nice. Something that IE and Firefox have not been able to accomplish.

    5. I thought that Chrome had its own look and feel just so that it could have its tabs right at the top of the window. Whilst I thought it was a clever feature (and I like the extra space available for the webpage itself) non-native windows annoy me.

    6. Honestly, Tim, it’s much nicer to be able to get the info straight from the horse’s mouth (in this case, Ben Goodger being the lead Chrome UI developer).

      Sure, with a PR-crafted response you’d get a more sound POV without all these holes…. But then you wouldn’t be able to tell the truth from the falsehood.

    7. This is kind of interesting. The port of Chrome to Linux currently uses GTK, and works quite well. It is called Chromium, and is very snappy. I still use Firefox, I much prefer its interface to Chromium (which still lacks AdBlock) but I may well change browsers once something with AdBlock crops up with the KHTML/Webkit/V8 engine.

    Leave a Reply

    Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *