Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Bookmarking in Google’s Chrome Browser

image After reading all the Chrome posts yesterday and today, I knew better than to expect a bunch of showy links to Google properties such as Gmail, Google Reader, or even Google.com. Indeed, Google showed admirable restraint in focusing narrowly upon enhancing the browsing experience. That meant a smooth import process that transfers all your browser settings, including your default search engine (even if it’s not Google).

Google extended their open and easy approach to Chrome’s bookmarking functionality. Chrome doesn’t link up directly with Google Bookmarks. Instead, Chrome offers a less functional version of Firefox’s bookmark engine. Chrome imports your bookmarks and browsing history from Firefox (you do use Firefox, don’t you?) and seamlessly incorporates them into Omni Bar, its version of Firefox’s Awesome Bar.

There are a few key differences from the Firefox approach. First, the Omni Bar includes search results from your default search engine. I’m not sold on this approach because the suggested auto-complete results in Omni Bar aren’t as relevant for me. Take a look at the screenshots below to see what I’m talking about.

image
Gmail search in the Awesome Bar using only “gm”

image
The same search in Omni Bar doesn’t get me close to Gmail.

If Chrome learned from my past searches the way Firefox does, it would automatically provide me with Gmail as the top result. This is minor, considering Chrome is a beta release, but it’s something that will need to be improved.

The second key difference is the abbreviated feature set of Chrome’s core bookmarking engine. The appearance is quite similar.

image
Firefox’s bookmark dialog

image
Chrome bookmark dialog

Note that unlike Firefox, there’s no way to add tags or keywords, or even edit them. You also can’t search your bookmarks outside of the Omni Bar. Again, this seems pretty forgivable since it’s a beta release. On the other hand, it does look like they lifted the bookmarking engine directly from Firefox. Why not incorporate all of Firefox’s bookmarking features?

One nice thing about Chrome’s approach is the screen you see when you open a new tab.

image

The display includes both recent bookmarks and most visited sites. This is incredibly useful, but I don’t view it as a huge advantage for Chrome, because both Firefox and Internet Explorer are likely to integrate similar features in the future.

Overall, I have to admit I’m not impressed with Chrome’s bookmarking capabilities. And I’m worried that the lack of tags might indicate an unwillingness to integrate with Web-based bookmarking services, including Google’s own bookmarking product. Scott McCloud’s otherwise awesome Chrome comic book hints that Google may not be very enthusiastic about bookmarking, when your Omni Bar can locate the item much more quickly.

image

That might be true. If the Omni Bar worked as well as the Firefox’s Awesome bar. It doesn’t. At least, not yet.

No comments: