We’ll be answering questions from 10AM to 4PM (ish) today, Pacific time. We’re a bit late to the party since the IE and Firefox teams did AMAs recently too, but hey - better late than never!

There are three of us here today:

  • Jeff Chang (jeffchang), product manager
  • Glen Murphy (frenzon), user interface designer
  • Peter Kasting (pkasting), software engineer

Wondering about the recent logo change, or whether Glen is really that narcissistic? Ask us anything. Don’t be shy.

Here’s a photo of us we took yesterday (Peter on the left; then Jeff; then Glen).

Comments: 3100 • Responses: 63  • Date: 

Urist_859 karma

Thank you for making the greatest browser ever. That is all.

CritterM72800426 karma

And thank you for KEEPING IT SIMPLE. It's the only browser that isn't getting more and more bloated with features that should really be in addons at an alarming rate.

jeffchang166 karma

Thanks for the kind words! We try hard to avoid adding features willy-nilly, even though this sometimes makes users who want a certain feature/option XYZ to be really unhappy.

pkasting135 karma

Tangentially -- it's amazing how many people say exactly this and then follow with "but you're missing one feature I want, can you add an option for XYZ?" I don't think people realize that simplicity comes from a willingness to say "no" to a lot of requests. I've made a lot of people angry on the bug tracker by closing their bugs, but that's an important part of what it takes.

(Note, I'm not suggesting we should never listen to our users; I'm suggesting that tradeoffs are an inherent part of design.)

drummerman345615 karma

First off, thanks for a great browser. I really enjoy using it and usually it is the little things which make a big difference (ie tabs dont resize until you move your mouse away). BUT I have one major pet peeve:


Holy crap, guys. Why haven't you improved this yet? At least gimme the option to have it automatically close after x seconds!

But still, thanks :)

pkasting203 karma

Our downloads UI needs help. It's gotten neglected as we've worked on other high-priority stuff. We do now have some people working on the download code, but there's a lot of stability/bugfixing/testing to do first before we get to too many feature changes.

That said, among the change I'd like to make are a shorter shelf, smaller items within the shelf, changing the progress wheel appearance, making the shelf easier to close, better handling of auto-open files, etc.

drummerman34557 karma

Awesome. As long as you realize it needs help, thats good enough for me :)

Now, if I can be needy...timeline? :)

Smiley faces make me sound nice, right? :)

pkasting84 karma

No timeline, but this would be a great area for someone who wants to learn Chrome or contribute to an open-source project to give us some patches!

orbitur8 karma

I'm a student, and I actually did attempt to help out (I wanted to see about adding OS X 3-finger-swipe->top/bottom of page, at least for me personally), but there's virtually no documentation about where things in general are located. It was very overwhelming. Where does a newb like me even start?

pkasting17 karma

Did you see the "Design documents" section of http://dev.chromium.org/developers ? You might also want to pop in to our IRC channel (irc.freenode.net #chromium) or send messages to the [email protected] mailing list.

jeffchang175 karma

I think all of us agree we should improve the download manager. But it's more important that we get the downloads codebase in better shape first. We have some engineers working on fixing major bugs/crashes and writing better tests so we have good code hygiene. After we get through that, we'll be tackling UI improvements and feature requests.

Long story short, we hear ya, but we have to practice good software engineering principles and resist the urge to just add a bunch of new features right now.

nitrousconsumed284 karma


Edit: Ohdeno is responsible for the code that gives the commenters those little images. Thanks!!

ohdeno65 karma

javascript: $('a.id-t2_2r9qv,a.id-t2_50h30').addClass('submitter'); return

Paste that in your address bar to have frenzon's username highlighted as well as OP's. Will update once/if pkasting posts anything.

Edit: Updated. Pkasting's first post.

Edit2: Got you some branding, but this works too ;)

pkasting34 karma


flashgasoline231 karma

Why can't I just open documents, etc. instead of downloading them first?

jeffchang13 karma

I'm acutely aware that it's one of our most starred feature requests in the bug tracker (http://crbug.com/333). We actually have it assigned to someone, and we plan to get to it when we've finished the ongoing code cleanup/hygiene work in the downloads codebase. There are a lot of UI implications for the feature that we feel strongly about, so it's not trivial to design either. But as someone who hates having extra files laying around, I personally am looking forward to shipping a solution for this.

(also, just for the record, the browser would obviously still need to physically download the file before opening it - it would just be downloading it into a temporary directory)

forkqueue204 karma

Irony is a cruel mistress. Here's what happened when I first tried to read this post:


jeffchang120 karma

Aw, snap :(. Sorry bout that. If it happens repeatedly/reproducibly, it'd be great if you filed a bug at new.crbug.com.

Chubbstock189 karma

Do you work at the Googleplex?

How is working there? I hear it's awesome...

Did any of you have to move to work at Google?

How fast is the internet connection there? (Speedtest pic? :-D)

frenzon253 karma

We work at the Googleplex in Mountain View, CA.

It is awesome working here (my co-workers are awesome, we get to do stuff like this IAmA, and there's great free food and drink).

I moved from Australia to work here - I started the day after I got off the plane, and the whole thing felt slightly surreal.

I tried to make a Speedtest pic, but it ran out of real numbers.

[deleted]154 karma

I recently tried to swtich to Chrome but the one thing that I really missed from Firefox was the AwesomeBar. I frequently visit r/programming and Chrome wouldn\t suggest 'www.reddit.com/r/programming/' when i entered e.g. 'r/progr' into the adress bar. No amount of tinkering with the settings or of what I entered could help me to get Chrome suggest the correct URL.

Are there any plans to improve the address bar of Chrome in this regard? I know performance is important to you guys, but this functionality is so basic, that I definitely won't 'miss' it in my web browser.

jeffchang120 karma

Yep, we definitely realize this is important and we are working on it. http://crbug.com/60107

nielsforpokker50 karma

The great thing about the AwesomeBar is that it also finds hits that are in the page title of sites you've visited. It is ver useful for those refinding content missions where you just vaguely remember what the article was about, but not where you originally read it.

pkasting51 karma

Yes, our implementation also searches both URLs and titles.

ypschr148 karma

What are your favorite extensions?

frenzon137 karma

AutoPatchWork is loved by many people on the team.

jeffchang29 karma

Although it doesn't do anything anymore, I thought the idea behind this one was really neat: https://chrome.google.com/webstore/detail/bbfammmagchhaohncbhghoohcfoeckdi

yelirekim141 karma

  1. What were the main benefits gleaned from (or what is the biggest reason for) moving the preferences interface from native OS implementations to a local web page?

  2. I'm always a little confused as to where the responsibility lies for maintaining webkit vs maintaining chrome, how much time do you guys spend committing to webkit vs working on chrome itself?

  3. What do you guys work on as your 20% projects?

  4. Do you guys make the mobile browser on Android or is that another team within Google?

jeffchang83 karma

For #1, implementing the preferences as HTML pages in a tab makes maintenance across Windows/Mac/Linux/ChromeOS easier, since it's the same code everywhere. The new UI also makes it easier to search for settings, and to link directly to certain sub-pages with a URL.

pkasting60 karma

It also makes our code size smaller (no need to duplicate implementations for each platform, and no need to write native code when we already have a web rendering engine that can display things).

Kannuki124 karma

Any chance of including something like a 'mute tab' feature? It's a real pain when you have dozens of tabs open for whatever reason and don't know where the sound is coming from.

pkasting225 karma

For technical reasons, this is impossible without cooperation from plugin authors. Sounds played by Flash are sent straight from Flash to the Windows kernel APIs, we don't see them at all, let alone know what tab they came from.

The idea is a good one, and one we've thought of in the past, but it doesn't seem to be implementable.

shadybushman119 karma

Why did you include the Incognito browsing feature, and where did the idea come about? I think I speak for us all when I say, "Thank You Kind Sir's"

frenzon163 karma

We included it for the obvious reasons; it's a feature many people want, but few people felt comfortable asking for. We all wanted to build a browser we would want to use for the rest of our lives.

thudson51 karma

Also, what kind of gross statistics do you know about the feature?

pkasting233 karma

We don't know any gross statistics. We're not watching what you do. Ceiling cat might, though.

richardsim7104 karma

Why isn't there a keyboard shortcut to close the download bar?

jeffchang27 karma

Funny thing is, we were debating this with someone over email just yesterday. We're thinking about it; I'll let Peter chime in with his thoughts because he's thought about this particular issue for longer than I have.

pkasting41 karma

Hot potato, catch!

Current plan is to make ctrl-j close the download shelf in addition to opening the downloads tab. We also need (IMO) to make the shelf less obtrusive, easier to close, and more apt to auto-close. I'd rather not put in a shortcut just to close the shelf.

GrayFawkes99 karma

Why can't I remove the "Other Bookmarks" button from the bookmarks tool bar?!

pkasting57 karma

We recently checked in a change that should remove that button if the folder is empty. Hopefully that will make you happy! I don't know if that's in Chrome 11 or Chrome 12 but the current Dev channel release should certainly have it.

kweeky97 karma

Who illustrated/designed the awesome little incognito guy?

I'd say that little guy is becoming as iconic as the Chrome logo itself now.

frenzon38 karma

IIRC, Cuban Council did the incognito guy.

MR_Rictus86 karma

Why is flash always crashing in my chrome browser?

jeffchang12 karma

Sorry to hear you're having problems. We measure the crash rate in Chrome very carefully, and we see there have been a bit more crashes than usual lately - sorry bout that. Rest assured we're working closely with Adobe to try to fix them as soon as possible.

Dawn_of_the_deaf82 karma

Are you (active/lurker) redditors?

jeffchang152 karma

I'm a lurker. I browse, but never post (until now!)

outisemoigonoma64 karma

Are you already addicted to delicious karma?

jeffchang180 karma

It is quite tasty.

frenzon77 karma

I've been a redditor for three or so years, and post occasionally.

pkasting29 karma

I confess, I mostly hang out on Shacknews, where I've posted for a decade or so as Zero|DPX.

drumcat80 karma

Did you guys think of a good way to turn evil yet? http://xkcd.com/792/

jeffchang59 karma

Not yet, but please submit any ideas at http://new.crbug.com :)

moebis76 karma

Why are Safari and Chrome diverging so much? Doesn't Apple have access to the improvements to WebKit and javascript that the Chrome team has made?

pkasting49 karma

What do you mean by "diverging"?

Safari ships much less frequently than Chrome, so you'll see us ship various features and fixes sooner, but usually the next Safari release will have them.

Safari does use a different JS engine ("Nitro") than Chrome. Also, Safari was built as a single-process browser, so they're currently working on rearchitecting things to become multi-process, as Chrome was designed to be from the beginning; these changes are major and take a long time, and their design is still in flux.

To a great degree, though, most work done in WebKit benefits both browsers. Lots of speed improvements, bugfixes, features additions, standards compliance changes, etc. apply to both Safari and Chrome.

reesean69 karma

What is the status of ChromeOS?

jeffchang50 karma

We're getting lots of feedback from the Cr-48 pilot program, and we're still working hard on it. We'll have more news to share later this year.

pkasting19 karma

Everyone replying to this hoping for a Cr-48 should know they won't get one.

xrm461 karma


That's your next project.

pkasting104 karma

What, TBLOP (NSFW) doesn't serve your needs well enough?

sarevok958 karma

Wait.... did you just link that from work?

pkasting80 karma

You should see what the search spam and image search folks have to look at!

jeffchang62 karma

I'll bring it up with Larry the next time I see him.

whisperkitty60 karma

How long was Google Chrome in development before release?

pkasting76 karma

Just over two years, from around July/August 2006 until September 2008. It was a great relief being able to finally tell my family and friends what I worked on.

I was just thinking last night that it was hard to believe we've now been public longer than we were secret.

Aepko59 karma

Does Google have any plans to let Canadians in on their awesome beta testing programs? Such as, the CR-48 or the Google ISP?

pkasting8 karma

Sorry, I don't know anything about stuff like that. Just about Chrome itself :)

kollock54 karma

I've got a couple questions about features... are there specific reasons why they haven't been implemented (beyond just time), or are they on the timeline for implementation?

*Declaratively block ads: http://code.google.com/p/chromium/issues/detail?id=35897 *

Something firefox / safari have down cold. From the stars it appears like a lot of people care about it. I understand Google is an advertising company... but... :/

Syncing of custom search engines / adding custom search engines:

A killer feature of all modern browsers... and I love how chrome auto-adds them over time... but how about implementing a more direct "add based on search field" type feature found in other browsers. Also, how about syncing them? Now that we have passwords syncing, I can't think of what else I could ever want.

Desktop notifications:

I understand that this is becoming an HTML5 standard... but any options to handle them coming soon? We can allow/disallow them, choose their locations, but CAN'T have them timeout automatically? I'd love to set a browser wide popup notification timeouts

Lastly, any chances of more android integration:

Would be great to have passwords/bookmarks natively sync... I know that is beyond the chrome team, but is such integration on the road map?

Keep up the great work, I switched about a year ago, and I'll never go back :>

pkasting28 karma

w.r.t. better ad-blocking capabilities, we definitely want to give extensions more power here, so that you can implement full-fidelity versions of AdBlock, NoScript, etc. on Chrome. Some of the extensions team members are currently working on network APIs to make this kind of thing possible. I don't have a time estimate, though.

For search engines, I assume you're referring to how e.g. Firefox has "Add a search engine for this field" in its context menu for textfields? I've wanted that for several years. We have strings in for it, and we've had someone contribute a partial patch for it, but that seems to have been dropped on the floor. Would love some interested community members to take this one on.

jeffchang18 karma

Will the webRequest extension API satisfy your needs? http://code.google.com/chrome/extensions/experimental.webRequest.html

Syncing custom search engines is on the Sync team's radar.

cryptorchidism53 karma

Is "massive tab overload" in your test set? If not, why not?


I recently converted from Firefox, and I love essentially everything about Chrome, except...

I routinely have lots and lots of tabs open, and quite frankly Chrome sucks at this. After maybe 30 tabs it becomes unbearably sluggish, plugins and add-ons crash (I expect it from Flash, but even "Back on backspace" went down), the entire title becomes just an ellipsis (why bother at that point?), and at some point the favicons simply disappear (vs. becoming occluded).

I could understand if the decision was, "you're not supposed to do that, so we're not going out of our way to make it smooth as butter". Is there some trick/feature/workaround/usage model I'm not understanding? Is it because I'm using Ubuntu?

Thanks for making a great browser, and for kicking the big boys in the butt. Even people who don't use your product have benefited enormously from your efforts!

jeffchang66 karma

We've definitely been thinking about how to improve the UI and user experience when you have lots of tabs open. Our data has shown that the vast majority of users never actually have that many tabs open - but we know this is important for power users.

pkasting35 karma

As Jeff said, we're definitely interested in this issue. Here are some things we want to do about it:

  • Multi-tab selection, so it's easy to mass-close, reorder, or mass-move tabs between windows: in progress, on by default for Windows in Dev, UI still in flux.
  • Better eliding of tab titles, so you see the unique portions: in progress, UI feedback desired.
  • Tab width modifications, e.g. fisheye effects, magnifier effects, MRU tabs become larger, etc.: some mocks created, no implementation yet.
  • "Switch to tab" in the omnibox, so typing a URL that's already open changes tabs instead of navigating: no-UI hack version available in about:flags.

We also have various bits in progess like an extensions sidebar that could maybe someday be used for tree-style tabs.

It's hard to find good solutions for when people have dozens of tabs open. All the various tab overflow mechanisms, for example, have pros and cons.

honestbleeps53 karma

Before my question, a thanks to jeffchang, frenzon, pkasting and the rest of the team: Thank you for callbacks on calls to the background page of extensions. I like this SO much better than the way Safari and Opera have implemented this. Ugh. So much better. Also thank you for making extensions way easier to pack and set up than Safari, which is a godawful cluster... seriously... Reddit Enhancement Suite is much easier to develop in Chrome. I prefer its extension architecture over all the other browsers.

Okay, my question: I love Chrome, but the one thing keeping me from switching is Firefox's Awesome Bar. Every time I switch to Chrome I get frustrated. Do you have any plans to try and duplicate/emulate it?

What I mean:

After I've visited reddit.com/r/IAmA a few times, for example, I can just type:

r/IA --- and Firefox autocomplete knows where I'm going.

Chrome, on the other hand, seems to only autocomplete from the beginning of a string, rather than the middle... which means things like this shortcut don't work.

I've grown incredibly attached to it... so much so that it's basically the only reason I can't seem to complete the switch...

Any chance of this being added? Or is it a design decision not to?

jeffchang30 karma

Hey, we're definitely aware of this, and we're working on it. (http://crbug.com/60107) I am very much looking forward to getting that functionality too.

pkasting31 karma

To add emphasis, this is IMO one of the top five reasons Firefox users stick with it over Chrome, and as the original designer of the Omnibox, I'm very keen to see it go in.

You can test what we have so far by visiting "about:flags", enabling "Better omnibox history matching", and restarting.

onebluchip49 karma

What jobs dd you have before working at google?

frenzon65 karma

I dropped out of university in time to get my first job the week the dotcom bubble asploded (which in hindsight was a good thing) and then worked at a variety of Australian web design/development/consulting shops for about five years before joining Google.

I even wore a suit to work at one job.

jeffchang61 karma

I interned at a bunch of different software companies, including startups near MIT, Akamai, and VeriSign. And I interned for Google.

kettal48 karma

what was it like working at a startup near VeriSign?

jeffchang28 karma

Oh, I just meant startups near MIT. I actually worked for Akamai and VeriSign themselves.

pkasting15 karma

I worked at Green Hills Software, mostly on compiler optimizations (for MIPS, SH, FR, Core1), also some on integrating new chips (e.g. a TI DSP) into our IDE toolchain.

I joined Google expressly to work on Firefox, which I loved but had never actually contributed to, so I was pretty unhappy at first when the Firefox team switched to working on Chrome. But it's worked out very well at this point.

drumcat47 karma

Is it true that Google emplyees get to use 10% of their work time for personal projects? If so, what have you used it for?

frenzon90 karma

As The_MAZZTer posted, it's 20% of our time, and we can use it whenever is deemed reasonable. In five and a half years of working at Google, I've only used a day of it (to write ExCanvas, a <canvas> emulator for IE) - working on Chrome is too exciting to want to do anything else.

gigaquack27 karma

So how delicious is the kool-aid?

frenzon71 karma

We don't have any kool-aid, but we do have micro-kitchens within 200' of anyone's desk containing all sorts of fruity and soft drinks.

I used to wonder why I got a headache every weekend and on days I worked from home - I thought I was addicted to work, but it turns out I was addicted to drinking a Diet Mountain Dew every 45 minutes.

[deleted]37 karma

When google achieves world domination, what advantages will chrome users have?

pkasting110 karma

Citing the fifth amendment (of the U.S. constitution) will be done by invoking "Incognito mode".

tricky198235 karma


Thanks for agreeing to answer these questions. Great browser! My questions for you are:

  1. How many engineers work full-time on Chrome/Chromium?
  2. How many are in the Chrome/Chromium team overall?


jeffchang29 karma

For Chrome, it's enough to fill many buildings around the world; I don't even know myself anymore. For Chromium, it's hard to tell since it's an open-source project and we get varying contributions from non-Googlers. Most of the team is engineering.

Aria22632 karma


jeffchang62 karma

D'oh - we didn't, but we should have! (but now with Firefox's recently-announced faster release schedules, we'll have another chance soon..)

I_Downvote_Cunts28 karma

How do you guys feel about flash? Do you think it still has a place on the web or is it time for it to be replaced with html/JavaScript?

Thanks for doing this IAmA.

pkasting42 karma

It's pretty clear that HTML + JS (+ CSS, + WebGL, +++etc.) is not a replacement for Flash at the moment, due to capabilities, development tool quality, browser distribution, etc. Frequently the two are not trying to solve the same problems. I think people who play up the "OMG HTML5 is teh Flash killz0r" angle are naive or ignorant.

Jedisheep24 karma

What are some perks of working for Google?

frenzon82 karma

I get to sit in a room and post comments on reddit all day.

pkasting54 karma

Free, good food whenever you want. A shuttle that picks up a mile from my house. Smart coworkers. Interesting problems to solve. An amazing amount of resources to dedicate to important stuff I wouldn't want to do, like advertising Chrome or creating its installer or distribution channels. Getting paid really, really well.

jeffchang49 karma

The food is yummy. The weather is nice out here. I get to travel. And I get to work on an awesome web browser with some really cool (and really smart) people.

threetwojuan24 karma

Was your interview with Google really all that difficult?

jeffchang31 karma

I don't know if "difficult" is the right word, but the interview process was definitely very intellectually stimulating. I was also lucky enough to be an intern before joining full-time, so I had the feedback from my coworkers to help me.

pkasting13 karma

I was surprised they gave me an offer.

It was more fun than difficult. I enjoy solving problems and getting challenges.

It was more pleasant than my Microsoft interview in 2001, where there were definitely some impedance mismatches between me and the interviewers/company.

fyzzix24 karma

Can we get a fuller explanation of why there is no "Master Password" setting? The lack of a master password is the only thing keeping Chrome from being my full-time browser.

pkasting24 karma

We're currently working on multi-profile support for Chrome. This will hopefully give Chrome (desktop) users some of the same abilities as Chrome OS users, w.r.t. being able to set up your profile to require a login on browser start, and have a guest account you can let friends use. This has the UI flow and benefits of a master password but also protects your other data (e.g. history, cookies, visited sites). We think this is a better solution to the problems that a master password tries to solve.

Modestbrad18 karma

What did you use before Chrome?

frenzon35 karma

I used iRider. Everyone thought I was crazy.

jeffchang19 karma

I used Firefox, mainly.

pkasting15 karma


Apocza8 karma

Firstly, as a user: Thank you so much for a real browser, one that works, one that doesn't get in the way of browsing, one that is fast and efficient, one that doesn't break all the time. Thank you, thank you so much.

Secondly, as a developer: Dear god thank you for making a good browser, one that makes a good effort at adhering to a standards, a great JS engine and awesome developer tools.

jeffchang6 karma

You're welcome! The entire Chrome team deserves credit.