Google strips for new browser

Published: September 2nd, 2008

Is it just me, or is documentation for end-users, shall we say, inconsistent in quality? (There's a shorter way to put it, but this is a family blog.) It seems to range from a four-page flyer with pictographs — it's fortunate that most of my home is from Ikea, otherwise I probably wouldn't have a single working electronic device — or it's a 400-page technical opus arranged in an indecipherable order, perhaps alphabetically by the mood the writer was in when he or she wrote the chapter. Or it's on the CD in PDF format, suffering from one of the above frailties. Or it's hidden among the Help menus. Or there isn't any.

So Google's online introduction to the beta of its Chrome browser is a refreshing departure. For those who haven't seen it, it's presented as a 30-plus-page comic strip on Googlebooks.

The line-drawing-with-speech-bubble presentation is clear enough that a child could understand it, if that child happened to understand Java virtual machines, sandboxes (not the literal kind) and the difference between threads and processes.

It's also a warm-and-friendly introduction to the development team in line-drawing caricature, even if the style is eerily reminiscent of those fire-and-brimstone religious comic strips that people leave on the subway as a not-so-subtle reminder that you've got some repentin' to do, brothers and sisters.

Most of the people in my demographic (I won't speak for you young folk) grew up on a steady diet of comic strips, be it superhero stories (Batman, Superman, and my particular fave, Captain America), sports tales (Amazing Sports Stories), lighter humour (Archie, Beetle Bailey) or creepshow stuff. For many of us, it was our first experience in having content transmitted to us via the printed page, and for good reasons –  clarity and simplicity of language, and relevant graphic support.

And Google makes clear both the features that make this a next-generation browser and the rationale behind those feature: why running Javascript, HTML and plug-ins as separate processes is a good idea; why the new V8 JVM engine is faster; how sandboxes secure the browser. But don't listen to me — I've got no kooky line drawings in the background. Check out the comic strip.

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Jim Love, Chief Content Officer, IT World Canada

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