20 Things About Browsers

The Google team, or more specifically the Google Chrome Team have posted a wonderfully quaint introduction to browsers at in the form of an illustrated e-book. Putting aside the funky typesetting decisions for a moment, it’s interesting for three reasons.

Google - What is the Internet?

Firstly, all those fancy page turn transitions and little animations (traditionally something people would use Flash to accomplish) are all implemented with CSS3 which puts this squarely in the HTML5 camp. Online magazine/book style viewers have been around for a few years and while their overall usefulness and usability can be called into question, this does further illustrate the constantly decreasing relevance of Flash.

Google - web apps

Secondly, it’s a reminder of just how important browsers are to Google, and how important it is that ordinary people know what one is. On the face of it that may sound crazy, surely everyone knows what a browser is these days. However, If you’ve ever had a friend of family member “lose the internet” because they misplaced the “blue e” icon then you’ll know what I mean. These are the people who create most of Google’s revenue and to maintain a competitive advantage with the tools and services they offer, they need to somehow let the masses know that the “blue e” isn’t the Internet, and that Google Chrome is a better, more advanced window onto the World Wide Web.

Google - HTML, Javascript, CSS and More

Thirdly, Google is going head to head with Microsoft and Apple these days as they attempt to pitch the open web as the operating system. As far as I know, Google Chrome is the only browser to ever have its own dedicated TV Ad Campaign so they’re clearly ready and willing to spend a lot of cash promoting their strategy, but the need to explain something so ubiquitous illustrates just how unique a problem they have to tackle. You don’t see Microsoft publishing “This is a computer” articles and there’s no owners manual with iPhones or iPads. It’s odd that something most people use hundreds of times a day is still so greatly misunderstood.

Back to the article in question though. It’s an interesting read and even hyper-super-giga-geeks like me should give it a once over. It never hurts to brush up on the fundamentals and what with all the new frameworks and buzz words being bandied around these days it’s easy to lose track of what the internet is and what it’s for.