Thursday, September 24th, 2009

Chrome Frame: No one will care but It’s fantastic!

I have rarely seen so much interest for an Internet Explorer dedicated plug-in!
While developers have been strafed twitter with re-tweets, technical questions and some guessed answer about Chrome Frame, Robert Nyman has already expressed his thoughts about Wave choice and latest Alex Russell idea.

Here few highlights:

No one will care

  • Home users who have no idea what a web browser is, and will not install anything (or, in some cases, everything – different story… :-) )
  • Company users with company IT restrictions where it doesn’t matter if it’s a web browser upgrade, new browser or “just” a plug-in – they’re not allowed to install anything.

It’s fantastic!
When I first heard about Google Chrome Frame, I liked the idea and I know Alex Russell behind it is one of the smartest developers in the world. I am 100% convinced that this has been implemented in an optimal way, especially from a performance perspective, so not having to develop for any Internet Explorer rendering engine sounds like a god-send!

The effects of this
I feel that we have crossed a line …

To be honest, I think Robert has some good point there but for some reason, my web nervous system does hope he is so wrong!

Posted by webreflection at 12:30 pm

3.5 rating from 46 votes


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It’s absolutely perfect for commercial web applications where customers are prepared to put that little bit of extra effort in to get something working. Definitely not for normal web use though :)

Comment by Darkimmortal — September 24, 2009

This is the first AJAXIAN post that i’ve read,
that is absolutely about nothing. I don’t understand
why posting about the same thing twice…

Comment by vsync — September 24, 2009

I think as long as there is good content that requires it and the install process is incredibly smooth (both things flash do well) I can see a decent install base at home. Not to mention tie-ins with other downloads like google toolbar, google earth etc.

As for the corporate environment, I think the key is to make it easy to install and automate from IT. In fact, I can see this being a godsend to them. Now they don’t HAVE to upgrade from ie6.

Even if very few websites require this at first, I imagine that many very popular ones will take advantage of it, and possibly even suggest it. If nothing else, I think it will put some pressure on microsoft to implement these standards, and that is valuable in itself.

Comment by genericallyloud — September 24, 2009

More power to Google for not supporting IE anymore in Wave.

With Google backing this, Chrome Frame has the potential to get the same adoption as the Flash plugin, especially once more people follow Google’s example. In the same way people didn’t care about Flash in the past there will be some point where those people are forced to start caring.

Comment by Jadet — September 24, 2009

The comments are way more intelligent than the “news” piece. Also, Robert’s post is much more enlightening than this terrible “summary”.

Ajaxian editors, I really don’t understand all your negativity towards Chrome Frame…

Didn’t Flash get mainstream acceptance?! Well, it’s a freaking plugin! So why can’t the same happen to Chrome Frame?!

Wake up, Ajaxian editors!

Comment by randomrandom — September 24, 2009

@randomrandom: Flash was successful because it does something that users can immediately see and understand. Gears and Frame are doing much more subtle stuff that is not tangible to most users. Good luck explaining my mom why she would need to install Chrome Frame.

Comment by BertrandLeRoy — September 24, 2009

Chrome Frame gives IT departments something to deploy that will help them move to more modern off the shelf applications, or new custom apps, which are being developed for more modern browsers, while keeping their IE6 junk around (MS should have helped here – maybe an IE6 mode in IE8 – but I think they have a strategic disinterest in doing so). The argument shouldn’t be about IT giving their users better browsers – there has to be something in it for them.

Comment by CaptainN — September 24, 2009

Crossed a line?… I’m not sure I understand when people use that kind of thinking – MS will never compromise. They have demonstrated that. They support just enough standards to keep everyone holding their breath. At some point you have to deal with an obstacle, and MS is an obstacle right now – they don’t want IE or web browsers to be the standard – it’s clearly strategic. They don’t want to work with anyone on these standards, if they did, they would have done so already with support for SVG, canvas, et al – instead of breaking existing SVG and canvas workarounds with IE8. The only option is to remove their browser engine as an obstacle – Chrome Frame is one way to do that. No lline was crossed.

Comment by CaptainN — September 24, 2009

You know, when flash took off it was not usually the entire page, just a portion of the page – that is still the most popular method of use. This allowed for optional content to be in flash while the rest of the page was native to the browser. Technically, the same thing could be done with Chrome Frame.

Instead of embedding flash or silverlight, use an iframe which requires a capable browser, or Chrome Frame. Inside the iframe could be svg charts, canvas based games, or even the audio/video tags. Heck, now that google bought out On2’s video codec, they could pretty easily be a competitor to embedded flash for video, only using standards.

I wouldn’t dismiss this too easily. It is a powerful tool, and I think that the full plan has yet to be fully revealed.

As for the whole “is this evil” thing – it is in Google’s best interest. This is not charity work. It is in Google’s best interest to move the web forward. They want as much eyes, money, software moved to the web as possible. They are the king of the internet, and they want to increase the size of their dominion. And as long as they work towards open standards and open source, I think they are an ally. But the time is coming when they will start looking like the next microsoft. I don’t doubt it.

Comment by genericallyloud — September 24, 2009

@Jadet: now you have another problem, which is explaining my mom what Wave is and why she needs it.
Don’t get me wrong, I really wish this would work *and* that we could rid the world of IE6. And I also really like Alex and his work (he’s without a doubt one of the smartest persons I know). I’m just super-skeptical about its chances of succeeding, as I was about the chances of success of Gears (and just look where Gears is now despite all that Google has/could have done with it). This looks more than a little delusional to me.

Comment by BertrandLeRoy — September 24, 2009

@vsync the reason I have posted Robert’s comment is that everybody is saying a word but opinions are extremely different.
As example, Robert’s comment could sound reasonable but in CF ML there are already administrators stuck behind legacy applications and IE6 screaming “Hooooorray!” and “let us distribute it via stand alone installer”.
Other followers comments are really interesting as well, and while Microsoft is “playing the security card” against Chrome Frame, more concrete opinions about benefits, prons, or cons, we have online, more Microsoft will hopefully consider our positions, as web developers.
In any case, I will try to avoid redundant posts next time, and I did appreciate your honest comment.

Comment by webreflection — September 24, 2009

> I’m just super-skeptical about its chances of succeeding
> as I was about the chances of success of Gears
> (and just look where Gears is now
> despite all that Google has/could have done with it).

Gears ideas are mainly being added to HTML 5:
Offline Web Applications

That’s pretty successful to me! :)

Comment by randomrandom — September 24, 2009

@BertrandLeRoy: I didn’t say she’ll see it on Wave. She might see it in Gmail or Google Maps in the future, or on any other site she’ll use that implements Chrome Frame. I’m hoping she’ll see it on Youtube one day when they move to HTML5.
If she’s as skeptical as you and hasn’t installed the Flash plugin today she’ll probably never install Chrome Frame in the future. You mention Gears but this is in a different league, it’s much easier to get this out there for Google.

Comment by Jadet — September 24, 2009

Sorry for the (negative! ha!) tone in my first comment, but…:
– Your news piece (as well as Dion’s) seem to have been posted hastily.
– Yours, in particular, did little to clarify what’s going on… I think it, in fact, confused me more! :D

I just hope next time you guys will take a little more time to express things more clearly.

And, finally, let me say this: Thank you for Ajaxian! I know that you guys don’t get thanked enough… — I do appreciate your efforts and *cause* towards an Open Web. Thanks again.

Comment by randomrandom — September 24, 2009

@randomrandom: sure, that’s success of the ideas (assuming that’s really where they originated), not of the plugin, which I think is what’s being discussed here.
@Jadet: maps and mail work fine today in IE. Why would those apps suddenly require Frame?
Anyway, time will tell, and I do sincerely hope I’m wrong on this one.

Comment by BertrandLeRoy — September 24, 2009

> maps and mail work fine today in IE. Why would those apps
> suddenly require Frame?

Google Maps would be great with SVG and OpenGL, for one.

Comment by randomrandom — September 24, 2009

> OpenGL
I meant WebGL, of course. And, yes, I know it will only be ready in about 6-8 months.
But SVG 1.1 (plus other web SVG stuff) is available today. And Google Maps can benefit a lot from it.

Comment by randomrandom — September 24, 2009

maps and mail work fine today in IE. Why would those apps suddenly require Frame?

@BertrandLeRoy: I wouldn’t call it fine. Google puts a lot of effort into Maps to make it work on IE. The thing is jumping through hoops can only gets you so far, if apps like Maps want to move forward Chrome Frame provides a solution, Wave advocates CF for a reason.

Comment by Jadet — September 24, 2009

Hmm…I hear a whole lot of “this is not going to get adopted” BS. You guys and gals just saw Google go all Wave Nazi (much like a Seinfeld character) and say “IE…NO APP FOR YOU!” Why do you think they are not going to do it more and more in the future?

Your mom will install this, why you ask? Because Google will start making apps you use yell at you for being lame and using IE. Period. And thank god.

Comment by csuwldcat — September 24, 2009

That’s assuming my mom uses any apps from Google outside from itself, which she isn’t. The tech community is a very small part of the world population.

Comment by BertrandLeRoy — September 24, 2009

> That’s assuming my mom uses any apps from Google
> outside from (…)
> The tech community is a very small part of the world population.

And what makes you think your mom represents the other 95% (or so) of the population?!

Regular people on the Net use:
> Google Maps
> Gmail
> Google Earth

And I bet they’ll use Google Wave too.

Comment by randomrandom — September 24, 2009

> Regular people on the Net use:
> (…)

And YouTube!

Comment by randomrandom — September 24, 2009

As a web developer I am very excited about this. Supporting IE is expensive, hectic and degrades the user’s experience of the app I’m working on. Now if I can only convince the MS fan boy web developers on my team to see the light (I thought I’d never meet web developers who love IE so much, very contradictory).

Comment by mrfator — September 24, 2009

@randomrandom: nothing, but I’m suspecting that she is a little bit more representative than you or me are. Gmail is indeed failry successful with about 150 million users, which brings it closer and closer to Hotmail (270 million) (source Wikipedia).
For Google Maps, it’s a little harder to find usage statistics, but until fairly recently, MapQuest (I know…) seemed to still attract considerably more traffic. Unfortunately I couldn’t find those stats. But being a desktop app, Earth is probably very low compared to online apps. On Wave, we’ll see with time.
Now, there’s YouTube, and yes, it’s huge (more than half of US internet connected people use it every month apparently, don’t know about the rest of the world).
So it’s not Wave, not GMail, not Maps that will help Google here, it’s probably YouTube, and the recent HTML5 prototype indicates they might make that move, especially as it’s not exactly their most lucrative property despite its quasi-monopoly. So yes, if they had to choose one property to push Frame, it should probably be YouTube. We’ll see what they do but it might be a tough sell to explain to their existing users why what already works perfectly well would suddenly require a new plug-in to get similar results…
And of course, that does not take care of enterprise users who are stuck on IE6.

Comment by BertrandLeRoy — September 24, 2009

Maps 3D is coming now that WebGL is in development. It’s inevitable. I’m sure that Maps 3D will use Chrome Frame as rendering mechanism on IE.

If google offers killer apps like that, which people genuinely want to use, they’ll get market share on IE in excess of 10 percent. That would be enough to legitimize chrome frame, convincing sysadmins to deploy it. At that point, you can choose to use chrome frame as a support method (either for old versions of IE, or for all versions of IE). I could see it happening, though a lot hinges on execution from google and on what microsoft’s response is going to be. Microsoft can kill chrome frame effortlessly, if they want to risk the bad PR.

Comment by Joeri — September 25, 2009

Don’t forget that most computers with IE are old computers and won’t be able to run a greedy web app.

Aren’t we replacing a browser problem by a performance one ? IE is currently dumbing down web development but permit to have applications working on all machines or at least to have adaptive hmi.

Comment by Loic — September 25, 2009

The typical user does not see a web site as a collection of technologies. They just see a web site. If the web site says they need Flash, they’ll click one button, wait 10 seconds for it to install, and go along their merry way. Chrome Frame is no different. How is requiring a plug-in to deliver a specific set of technologies on a specific web site crossing a line? Absolute nonsense.

I can’t believe people in this industry are protecting same black hole that devours countless resources (and pulled out hair) year after year with no end in sight. As previously mentioned, IE is an obstacle to progress. MS has demonstrated clearly for well over a decade that beyond a couple well-meaning developers, they have no intention of changing that fact. It’s time for our industry to move on.

Comment by Bub — September 25, 2009

@bub – Silverlight is on plugin I won’t install, nor 90% else in the world for example.

Comment by vsync — September 25, 2009

“….As long as there is good content that requires it and the install process is incredibly smooth (both things flash do well) I can see a decent install base.”

Look at these ideas:

Let’s htmlize one of these and retrofit the CFInstall object which google offers.

Comment by jaysmith — September 26, 2009

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