Well, it finally happen! Chrome is now the most popular browser surpassing Firefox. This happen in March. This is the first month that Chrome passed Firefox. Of course, I'm not surprised since every time you do a Google search you see the Chrome download button.
I remember a developer friend of mine that fell in love with Chrome when it first came out, and couldn't stop gushing about it, yes, I'm referring to you, imperialWicket. He claimed Chrome's development tools matched Firefox. I'm not so sure.
The March Statistics for Browser Usage as reported by W3Schools in percentage of users was:
Internet Explorer 18.9%
There is a perception that Firefox is slower. Let's take a look at some performance specs. These specs were generated by lifehacker.com. The numbers are approximate, as I interpreted them from lifehacker's graphs.
Which browser loads from scratch the fastest
Chrome 17 2.0 seconds
Internet Explorer 3.5 seconds
Opera 11.61 4.0 seconds
Firefox 10 4.25 seconds
Which browser loads tab pages the fastest? In a test of loading 9 tab pages linked to different URLs.
Opera 6 seconds
Internet Explorer 16 seconds
Firefox 17 seconds
Chrome 21 seconds
In loading a new URL from scratch when you hit the enter button.
Chrome 0.25 seconds
Internet Explorer 0.65 seconds
Firefox 1.35 seconds
Opera 1.35 seconds
Internet Explorer 650
In DOM/CSS performance, i.e. how fast can the browser format the page in runs per second and load the DOM, the higher the better.
Internet Explorer 1900
Finally, let's look at memory usage with 9 tabs open, the smaller number at the top is better
Internet Explorer 350 000
Base Memory Usage
Chrome 42 MB of RAM
Opera 48 MB
Firefox 63 MB
Internet Explorer 63 MB
Memory Usage with extensions added with 9 tabs and 5 extensions
Let's put this all in English. Chrome is the faster when first starting up and loading the first page or a new URL, but if there are many tabs pages to load Chrome is slower than other browsers. As a developer, you usually have many tab pages open at any time. Opera is fastest in reloading tabs, or previous content.
All these specs are well and good, and one would think that its time to make the switch to Chrome from Firefox. But hold on here, what prompted this article is a little problem, I've run into at work with Chrome.
We have a fairly complex web app that loads four drop downs using Ajax. The first drop down is a very long list of company data, about 2000 records, for the user to select from, and then after the selection, the information is processed to populate the next drop down, and so fourth until all the drop downs are populated without reloading the page. The application runs perfectly in Firefox, but when I select the drop down button in Chrome, only half of the first list loads. Firefox loads the entire list.
No biggee, right, it works in Firefox, so it must be a memory or cache issue. I'll just configure the Chrome browser and give it some more memory. Wrong. And here's we start to see some real differences between Firefox and Chrome.
To configure almost everything in Firefox, all you do is type about:config in the URL space and you can change memory size and cache size, or most any browser parameter there is in Firefox.
Chrome has no way to configure memory or anything under the hood. It has a very limited settings menu, and I mean limited, by clicking on the wrench and going to settings, that's it. In looking at the above specs, Chrome uses the most memory especially with many tabs in use.
Now, look at the memory set aside by each browser on initial download .
Private Memory: Chrome: 40,820K Firefox: 337,012K
Shared Memory: Chrome: 10,728K Firefox: 62,880K
Total Memory: Chrome: 51,548K Firefox: 399,892K
Private Memory: Chrome: 32,704K Firefox: 327,760K
Mapped Memory: Chrome: 59,998K Firefox: 184,412K
OK, who cares Chrome loads fast, right. But one would think that there may be some applications where it might be helpful to give Chrome a little more memory, like the one above. Chrome has the smallest amount of memory, that is not configurable, yet uses the most memory. C'mon Google.
What do you say to your boss who tells you to fix Chrome, when everything works in Firefox. It's not like IE, where you need to just change some CSS. Google won't let configure Chrome. Big hint Google! Allow us to configure your browser, and like with Firefox, we'll promise, to be careful.
And one more gripe. Despite the protestations of my colleague, imperialWicket, I don't find the development tools in Chrome near as easy to use as the tools in Firefox. If you load the Web Development toolbar in Firefox, everything is one click away. I'm not saying Chrome doesn't have these tools, but to me, Firefox's tools are easier to work with and are laid out much better.
To me, Firefox is suffering from old man on the block syndrome, which is unjustified, and quite frankly has very little advertising compared to Chrome. Google has pushed Chrome onto the masses on every search they do. With that type of advertising, you knew eventually Google would get Chrome to number one.
Fast loading, is not everything in a browser, there are other features that weigh heavier in my mind, so sorry, Goggle, but I'm staying with Firefox for web development.