Chrome – still not great

Update: A few hours after I wrote that, I decided to quit and restart Chrome to free up some memory, and now none of the extensions I installed are showing up.

A few weeks ago, I wrote about my experiences with Google Chrome on the Mac. At the time, Chrome on the Mac was lagging quite far behind the Windows version. Supposedly now it’s all caught up, and so I’m going to revisit my previous complaints:

  • It frequently lost the text cursor in text input fields, especially on GMail.
    • Still happens.
  • It seemed much slower and more likely to corrupt the display compared to Safari in Google Wave.
    • I haven’t been using Wave, so no comment.
  • It had a bad habit of undocking a tab on the slightest provocation.
    • Still happens.
  • The fact that the tabs take up space in the window frame means that you’d frequently undock a tab when you were trying to move the whole window.
    • Still happens. There is a tiny bit of real-estate near the “+” to open a new tab that is still available, but it’s a pain to grab.
  • It doesn’t have a “Reload all tabs” option. Supposedly there is an extension to that, but in order to use extensions I’d have to upgrade to the latest development build. That’s more work than I’m willing to do when it has all these other problems.
    • I found an extension that will reload individual tabs on a schedule rather than the whole window on demand. That’s actually nicer than having to reload everything manually. It’s not bad, except when your computer goes to sleep you have to restart it by reloading all the tabs individually. Plus when it reloads on a tab that is on a different Space than the one you’re on, it will switch back to that Space, but that’s a Spaces problem not a Chrome problem.
  • It doesn’t recognize or tell you about RSS feeds. In Safari or Firefox, any page that has an RSS feed displays an icon, and if you click it, the OS opens the feed in the currently configured RSS reader. The functionality is so ingrained in browsers that many pages don’t seem to have any other indication that they have RSS feeds. Once again, I’m told that Chrome has a plug in for that. Once again, too much trouble.
    • The only RSS plug ins I could find will add the RSS feed to a web based RSS reader like Google Reader. There is no support I can find anywhere for the OS-defined RSS reader. So I’m experimentally putting NetNewsWireLite out pasture in favour of Google Reader. Not bad, but not great.

So over-all, it’s got a few user interface annoyances, but the really big sticking points have been taken care of by plugins. And I was happy. Until today. And that’s when I discovered that Google Chrome is utterly useless for a web developer – there appears to be no way to make it reload your javascript file that you’ve just changed unless you go to “File->Clear Browsing Data”, uncheck everything except “Empty the cache”, click “Clear Browsing Data”, and wait, and wait, and wait. In normal web browsers, you just have to hit shift-reload on your page and it will reload that page and all the attendent files, including CSS and JavaScript files. That’s it, I’m switching back to Safari (or maybe Firefox) for the page I’m developing.

Oh, plus the built in “Developer Tools” in Chrome suck in comparison with Firebug, but that’s apples to oranges since Firebug is a plugin.