Ever find yourself wishing you could run two versions of Google Chrome -- like the stable version and the dev version -- side-by-side? It's been a tad tricky to do that in the past, but Google has just made things about as easy as they can possibly get -- by introducing another Chrome build.
Yes, Google is offering a Vista-esque four flavors of Chrome now -- with the release of Canary, a pseudo-dev channel build which installs to a different directory (%localappdata%\Google\Chrome SxS\ on Windows). Canary isn't linked to your Google Chrome installs at all, meaning you can also run different sync profiles, themes, and browser preferences.
Apart from the folder change, Googler Huan Ren states that Canary may also receive updates which the dev channel does not. Canary will be the most bleeding-edge official version of Chrome and somewhat of a mix between Chrome dev and the Chromium snapshot builds.
Canary's arrival has a lot to do with the new Chrome release cycle. With stable builds due out every six weeks, beta branching will occur more frequently and "risky" changes from the trunk can now be pushed to Canary prior to landing them on the Dev channel.
This also says a lot about Chrome's early adopters -- there's obviously a crapload of them if Google feels it can support two official, pre-beta builds. Download Google Chrome Canary here and run it in tandem with your current stable, beta, or dev build.
Wait a sec... "Why Canary?", you ask? I'm guessing this is a reference to the old practice of taking a canary down into a mine... If the canary died, it was unsafe and the miners knew to bail out. If a change kills Chrome Canary, they'll block it from the dev build.
Over at the Chromium blog, there's some good news for Chrome fans... Which is simultaneously bad news for those of you who already think they're getting a little silly with the version numbers. Starting now, Google plans to push a new stable version of Chrome every six weeks.
Yes, you read that correctly. Six weeks.
That's not set in stone, of course -- build issues and bugs could delay a release. Still, this means that the exciting new features you read about popping up in the developer channel will now likely have a shorter path to travel to the stable version. "We have new features coming out all the time and do not want users to have to wait months before they can use them," says the official blog post. It continues, "We basically wanted to operate more like trains leaving Grand Central Station (regularly scheduled and always on time), and less like taxis leaving the Bronx (ad hoc and unpredictable)."
Google also hopes the change will take some heat off the Chrome development team. Instead of having to rush to commit changes in the weeks and days leading up to a release, they'll be sliding in changes more frequently. If a feature isn't ready, they'll simply bump it to the next cycle.
It'll be interesting to see if this puts any heat on Mozilla, Opera, Microsoft, and Apple. Will they counter? Share your thoughts in the comments!
Oh yeah...Google also asks that you not pay too much attention to the numbers anymore as they stream past in the rear view mirror -- so no jokes, mmmkay?
- Shorten the release cycle and still get great features in front of users when they are ready
- Make the schedule more predictable and easier to scope
- Reduce the pressure on engineering to “make” a release
Like so many new Chrome features, side tabs are hidden behind a command line flag: --enable-vertical-tabs. As always, if you need help figuring out how to add a flag, have a look at our how-to post!
App tabs and pinned tabs appear at the top of the list and you can still drag and drop to re-order tabs and right-click them to pin, close, duplicate, or reload. As Martin points out over at Ghacks, there's some graphical weirdness when you first activate the switch. Give Chrome a slap by opening a new tab with ctrl+t or simply minimize and restore the window.
All the talking about sidebar tabs today in Firefox reminded me that I wanted to write about a similar feature in Google Chrome, to be more precise in the Google Chrome dev releases and Chromium.
The developers of the browser have added a startup switch to enable side tabs. Users who are running a dev version of Chromium or Chrome can add the startup parameter –enable-vertical-tabs to enable the side tabs functionality.
Here is how it is done in detail (Windows):
Locate the Google Chrome icon, right-click it and select Properties. This opens the Google Chrome Properties window. Locate the Target field and add –enable-vertical-tabs at the end of it. Make sure there is a space between chrome.exe and the parameter.
A click on OK saves the new parameter. Start or restart Google Chrome. There is no visual indication of side tabs yet. They are activated by right-clicking a tab and selecting Use side tabs from the context menu.
The current version seems to have problems drawing the side tabs right away. It is necessary to resize the screen, or minimize / restore it before the tabs are displayed in the sidebar.
Each website is represented by its favicon, page title and a close button. It does not seem possible to change the width of the sidebar tabs yet. The title bar looks awfully empty as well with side tabs enabled.
A right-click on a tab in the sidebar and the selection of Use side tabs will revert the changes and move the tabs to their original location in the browser. It is once again necessary to resize / minimize the window before the tabs are displayed.
Yesterday's dev channel update has flipped the switch, however, and the internal PDF viewer is now enabled by default. Interestingly, Google's official release post states a known issue where the PDF plug-in doesn't load on Linux -- yet it does on my Chromium OS install. If you happen to be running Chrome dev on Linux, let us know if the plug-in is working for you!
Apart from the plug-in change, it looks as though another big chunk of Chrome's UI will soon be moved to a browser tab. Just as they did with the bookmark manager did, Google is getting ready to move Chrome's options (or preferences) to a tab. Take the jump to see what it looks like so far!
Also hidden behind a command-line switch is the Chrome Web Store shortcut. If you have the --enable-apps flag appended to your shortcut, you may notice this on your new tab page:
Plenty of people scoffed at the original Google announcement about Chrome OS. It's just another minimalist Linux distro, they said -- but that's actually not quite true. Unlike most lightweight Linux distributions, there won't be any traditional local apps apart from the Chrome browser.
If you'd like a Chrome OS-like experience without having to give up apps like Transmission, VLC, or DropBox? Take a look at the new release from the developers behind Peppermint.
Dubbed Peppermint Ice, the new spin replaces Firefox with Chromium and includes the same selection of web app shortcuts (Facebook, Seesmic, Google Docs, Hulu, Pandora, etc.) and local apps (like DropBox, Tranmission, and XChat). Want to add your own web app shortcuts? It's a snap using the built in Ice tool. And since Peppermint is derived from Linux Mint, apt-get is available via the terminal -- meaning you can install boatloads of other apps if you want to.
Kendall Weaver, who heads up Peppermint development, told me that on his Core2 notebook with an OCZ Vertex SSD Peppermint Ice boots up in about 6 seconds. That's definitely speedy enough to compete with just about any "instant-on" OS I've tried out. Even on my admittedly poorly-configured, Atom-powered Gateway netbook Peppermint boots in 10 seconds... Nice!
Peppermint is a solid Linux distribution for people who just want to surf but don't want to give up the flexibility which Linux distros typically provide. The interface is clean and simple, and should be familiar to anyone who's ever used Windows XP. Hey, if my 5-year-old can jump in and find his YouTube favorites on Peppermint, the learning curve can't be too steep (if it even exists).
Good news if you're a Firefox fan: Kendall also informed me that Peppermint One will be switching to Firefox 4.0 when the second beta arrives. The switch will provide a welcome performance boost, though you might have to deal with some broken extensions temporarily -- although if you're installing Firefox betas you're probably used to that by now...
What makes it awesome? For starters, it can capture both the visible portion of a page or the entire thing -- and scrolling web pages aren't always support by capture tools. It's also got a nice built-in editor which provides all the functions I typically need when cleaning up a screenshot: crop, shape drawing tools, arrows, editable(!) text, and a blur tool for hiding sensitive information.
When you're finished editing, your image is presented on the page and you can save it locally via a right click or upload and share with the push of a button.
Here's my one gripe about the extension: the links it provides are gigantic. Like many tools which upload to pict.com, the URLs Awesome Screenshot spits out are way longer than, say, an imgur or yfrog link. That creates an extra step sometimes if you're pasting a link into apps which don't auto-truncate.
Hopefully future versions will offer a choice of image host -- if so, Awesome Screenshot will be even better than it already is. And it's already pretty dang good.
- The maximum reward for a single bug has been increased to $3,133.7. We will most likely use this amout for SecSeverity-Critical bugs in Chromium. The increased reward reflects the fact that the sandbox makes it harder to find bugs of this severity.
- Whilst the base reward for less serious bugs remains at $500, the panel will consider rewarding more for high-quality bug reports. Factors indicating a high-quality bug report might include a careful test case reduction, an accurate analysis of root cause, or productive discussion towards resolution.
It does exactly what you'd guess it would from the name: park your mouse above a thumbnail, and an enlarged version quickly appears. There's nothing to configure -- if you're browsing a supported site (theoretically any site which uses direct links to images), Hover Zoom just works. Hover Zoom's developer has built in a plug-in system, so adding additional sites should be a snap if you're up for a little code hacking.
This is one extension you might also want to enable in Incognito mode -- for those times when you feel like doing some track-free browsing on /b/ or with the safe search filter turned off on Google, for example. Not that you're doing that kind of thing, of course...
Many of you might not even be aware that you have a Google Dashboard -- but it's there, even if you're not using it. In essence, it's a single, centralized location to manage various settings for the myriad of Google services you're signed up for -- Gmail, AdSense, Blogger, Buzz, Picasa Web, YouTube, etc.
When it was unveiled back in November of 2009, I figured it would integrate nicely with Android and Chrome OS -- and a recent change in the Chromium source code has brought that integration one step closer to reality. Currently hidden behind a command line switch is the Privacy Dashboard link, which pops the link in just below your Chromium sync options on the Personal Stuff tab.
Right now the link sends you to google.com, but eventually it will point to google.com/dashboard -- likely once the Chrome options appear on that page. As Google continues to blur the line between native apps and Web apps, the Dashboard will become the Google equivalent of the Windows control panel or Mac System Preferences.
Managing all your online, handheld, and netbook settings on one web page? Sign me up!
So, you want to change the look of Google Chrome, but you're not happy with the options available in the official Themes Gallery? Well, I've got good news for you: there are plenty of good themes available elsewhere.
In fact, there are loads of themes in the Google Chrome Extensions Gallery. Wait, what? Yes, I know -- a theme is not an extension. Sure, they're the same file type (.CRX), but that's pretty much where the similarities end. Still, the Extensions Gallery is the only official place that designers can upload themes right now; hopefully, Google will add a "user created" tab to the Themes Gallery someday.
There are other sites where you can find themes as well -- deviantART and ChromeThemes.org, for example. Take the jump and have a look at a few of the better ones I've found. Taste is subjective, of course, so feel free to link your own favorites in the comments!
(I've listed the themes and linked them below in case you have trouble finding the links inside the gallery)
Normally, a single theme doesn't warrant its own post, but Robot Theme was just too cool not to share. It remains one of the most popular Google Chrome themes in the Gallery.
Drawing inspiration from the Firefox 4 UI, Foxy is the perfect theme for those of you who love your Aero transparency. It's difficult to notice the effect on inactive tabs if you have your Chrome window maximized, though.
The Simpsons Theme
MMmmmm ... yellow. Yes, it's loud, and it might not be your favorite color, but you've got to love the disgruntled Homer in the corner of the new tab page.
The fan page at Bioshock2.org actually has two themes available for download, and they're both super-grungy and dark, which is pretty much exactly what you'd expect for a Bioshock theme. You can also find a couple more over at deviantART.
XP Royale Blue and Zune Themes
If you're still running XP, chances are good that you're using one of the nice Royale themes. StudioJanck's Zune (black) and Royale Blue themes are nicely done and match the updated, glossy XP look.
Yes, there are people out there who like wood themes, and Muku is a nice one for Chrome.
Chrome themes don't have to be complicated to be good; there's not really a heck of a lot to see, after all. Elegante imparts a nice, simple grayscale look.
Green Day: Warning
I'm not sure what it is about the green-on-stone gray look in this theme, but I like it. If you're not a Green Day fan but still like the look, just throw in a new tab extension like Incredible Start Page to replace the default. (note: if you're not a fan of SendSpace, download this theme from here.)
I'm not a RuneScape player, but I actually kinda like this theme. It's well done, and it's readable, which is one important characteristic that a lot of themes seem to forget about.
A few things to remember:
1) You must enable apps support to use these. Check the first how-to post if you don't know how to do that.
2) Due to security restriction in Chrome, you can't simply click-and-run to install these .CRX files. Right click and save link as to save them to your computer, then drag them onto your Google Chrome window to install.
3) These are not full-blown extension apps. Really, they're web apps (like GMail, Twitter, etc) + PNG icons. App tabs open with no toolbar and the tab looks different in your Chrome toolbar (as you can see above).
4) Want your apps to reappear every time you launch Chrome? You still have to pin them -- just like regular tabs. If you don't pin an app tab, it won't reappear.
- Feedsquares by Qikon
- Grooveshark by Qikon
- MyFav.es by Qikon
- Pandora by Dave
- Yahoo Mail by pat_boy2008
The Google Apps, in case you had trouble with the
- Spark Chess and Trillian's web client are available from Owen Campbell-Moore: download here
To create your own app, here's what you do:
- Find nice looking icons and make sure you have at least two sizes (24 and 128 pixesl)
- Modify the manifest.json from one of my apps or one of the Google apps in your resources folder. If you're only creating two images, strip out the lines which reference the 32 and 48 pixel images.
- Make sure you input the correct URL and change the name of your app.
- Load it into Chrome via the load unpacked extension button
That's it. Simple, huh?
Chrome apps are capable of a lot more than pretty icons -- including things like running offline and notification support --but for now I'm happy with the eye candy.
Looking for nice, minimal tab manager extension for Google Chrome? Have a look at -- what else -- Tab Manager.
It's perfect for the number of tabs I usually have open (fifteen or less) but it may not be quite so well-suited to those of you who have dozens of tabs open simultaneously. Tab Manager only displays favicons and there are no tooltips to display a tab's title -- which make things a bit confusing when you've got multiple pages open on the same website.
For those of us who tend to keep tabs to a relative minimum, however, Tab Manager works nicely. Your Chrome windows are divided by a vertical rule, and you can drag tabs to re-order them in the current window -- or even drag and drop them between different windows.
Tab Manager will even work with your Incognito windows, provided you've checked off the box on your chrome:extensions page to allow it. They're outlined in red on the pop-up. Crossover isn't allowed, however -- you can't drag between Icognito windows and regular windows because Chrome doesn't allow us to do that.
Not yet at least. Work is underway, however, on building sidebars into Chrome's extension API. The awesome ASCII mock up was created by Chrome developer Aaron Boodman, who also references Aza Raskin's Viemo clip of the Mozilla Jetpack sidebar setup.
Persistent sidebars would be a welcome addition for any number of existing Chrome extensions -- like the many social networking, content clipping, and discovery extensions.
Curious what else is being considered for addition? Have a look at the Chromium Extension API Wish List. And before you ask, yes, "downloads" is listed and DownThemAll is given as the use case. I sincerely hope this is next on the list -- Chrome's download
mangler manager is one of my most frequent sources of irritation.
The full sidebar API proposal doc is available after the break -- check it out!
Integrating the Flash plugin and a pdf reader in Google Chrome has been a controversial move. Some users liked the idea as it allowed them to access contents without having to install the necessary plugins first, others feared the worst, that Google would lack behind in updating the plugins whenever a security update would be issued by Adobe.
But the fear is only one side of the medal. Users who are careless about the installed plugins are benefiting immensely from the internal plugins. They personally do not have to follow the latest security announcements to update their plugins the second a new update is issued, Google does that for them.
Chrome users who prefer not to use the internal plugins can disable them easily.
The Chrome developers have added another powerful weapon to the web browser; Plugin controls that can be used to allow plugins only on whitelist domains, trusted domains that the user added to the browser.
The plugins will simply not work on other websites if configured correctly. That’s beneficial to users who need Flash or another plugin on a handful of sites only.
Google does not stop here, several interesting additions to Chrome’s plugin handling have been announced at the official Chromium Blog.
Google Chrome will protect the users from outdated plugins. It will simply refuse to run them and aid the user in updating the plugins so that they can be used again in the web browser. It is not clear how the plugin database will be maintained, it is however unlikely that all plugins available worldwide are listed in it. It is likely that the most popular plugins are maintained in the database.
Protection from out-of-date plug-ins: Medium-term, Google Chrome will start refusing to run certain out-of-date plug-ins (and help the user update).
A second interesting feature is the ability to warn users of plugins that have been infrequently used in the past. Some plugins are installed by software or the user and never used in the web browser. Chrome will warn the user about those plugins so that they can be deactivated in the plugin manager.
Warning before running infrequently used plug-ins: Some plug-ins are widely installed but typically not required for today’s Internet experience. For most users, any attempt to instantiate such a plug-in is suspicious and Google Chrome will warn on this condition
Those two additions can be very helpful and it is likely that other browser developers will offer those features in their browser eventually as well. Mozilla has already started to inform users about outdated plugins during updates.
Personalizing the web to match the needs and abilities of users is a big part of improving overall web accessibility. While we continue to work hard on making core Google Chrome more accessible, we're really excited about using browser extensions to improve the accessibility of the web for millions of users.
There are already some extensions among the more than 5,000 in the gallery that can benefit users with special needs. Some of these extensions use Chrome APIs and content scripts to alter the browser and manipulate the DOM of pages, offering users almost unlimited flexibility for viewing the web. Other extensions choose to implement altenative workflows, instead of adapting existing web page UIs, to give users faster access to content. These extensions benefit not just users of assistive technologies like screen readers but everyone who prefers access modes like keyboard shortcuts and captions.
If you are interested in making your extensions more accessible, we’ve created a new Accessibility implementation guide in the Chrome Extensions Developer's Guide that gives you an overview of accessibility best practices such as keyboard navigation, color contrast and text magnification. We’ve also open sourced the code behind ChromeVis, a new extension for users with low vision, so that you can use some of its code for manipulating text selection and magnification in your own extensions.
In March, we announced that we would be bringing improved support for Adobe Flash Player to Google Chrome. Along with driving the development of a next generation browser plug-in API, this integration will eliminate the need to install Flash Player separately and reduce the security risk of using outdated versions. In the near future, we will extend Chrome’s “sandbox” to web pages with Flash content to further protect users from malicious content.
We have been testing the integration in Google Chrome’s dev and beta channels over the last few months in order to ensure a quality experience for all our users. Over the last week, we have enabled the integration by default in the stable channel of Chrome.
Users who do not wish to use the built-in version of Flash Player in Chrome can disable the integration via the chrome://plugins manager. In this case, Chrome will fall back to the system-installed version of Flash Player, if it exists.
Chrome OS will provide three basic options: signing in to an existing Google account (Apps for domains accounts are supported), create a new account, or browse without signing in.
Take the jump to check out the videos of the different login options!
Bad guys want to install persistent malware on your machine. Once they achieve this, they are free to do a variety of bad things such as steal your banking passwords, abuse your network connection, and rifle through your sensitive files.
Bad guys will install malware via the easiest path available. Traditionally, the easiest attack was to simply get a user to run an untrusted executable. Not all users fall for this. And modern operating systems and e-mail systems make this harder to do and restrict the permissions that the downloads run with -- making it less attractive. Next easiest is to exploit a disclosed vulnerability which is not yet patched by all users. The industry’s response to this is to autoupdate its users with security patches; browsers including Firefox and Chrome have demonstrated success at keeping the majority of their user bases current.
More advanced attacks involve finding undisclosed vulnerabilities in the browser. Despite being harder, there has been a lot of user damage due to exploitation of non-public bugs in browsers. Pleasingly, there’s a trend in modern browsers to integrate sandboxing. IE7 on Vista (and newer combinations) plus Google Chrome already have built-in sandboxes of varying strength. This makes many latent browser bugs incapable of persistently installing malware without a lot of additional effort to find a second bug to break out of the sandbox. Again, attackers favor the easiest attack so the increasing robustness of browsers is causing them to look elsewhere for ways to compromise user machines.
This brings us to the present time. We’re seeing a remarkable swing towards attacks that target pieces of browsing infrastructure such as plug-ins. This may be because browsers are taking the lead on auto-update and sandboxing. Since many plug-ins are ubiquitous, they pose the most significant risk to our user base. To better protect Google Chrome users from the threat of plug-in exploits, we have already announced a couple of initiatives:
- More powerful plug-in controls: Google Chrome now has the ability to disable individual plug-ins (about:plugins) or to operate in a “domain whitelist” mode whereby only trusted domains are permitted to load plug-ins (Options->Content Settings->Plug-ins).
- Autoupdate for Adobe Flash Player: By including Adobe Flash Player -- the most popular plug-in -- with Google Chrome, we can re-use Google Chrome’s powerful autoupdate strategy and minimize the window of risk for patched vulnerabilities.
There are more ways we are attacking the problem: