Chromeward Bound – My Browser Bromance
Like somebody clingy that you accidentally made friends with, Internet Explorer continues to spread it’s bad vibes throughout the web and upon those who design and build websites. Much like that clingy friend, it’s in a state of constant re-invention, in the hopes that we’ll all suddenly turn around and say “Aww, yeah. Go on then. We’ll use you legitimately and not just for testing.” If you ask me, it’s a shame. Once my favourite (OK… Only) browser choice is now like that weird guy who lives on your street that nobody speaks to any more.
Back when I started using the internet at high school (around 1998), we had a whole suite of computers installed and all of them had Netscape and Internet Explorer as standard. Not only that but they were all locked down so tightly, that had any other browser even existed at the time, we’d never have had the access rights to install or use it. The thing is, nobody would have known about any other browser existence anyway. I was 14 years old for goodness sake. The internet was new to me. It was new to most people!
I embraced Internet Explorer like my new best buddy. We’d go for long walks across fields of web pages. We’d sit together long in to the evening as the sun set, and late in to the night. We’d discover whole new worlds together. Internet Explorer showed me my first website, he showed me the world outside my country. He even showed me things I probably shouldn’t have seen at the age of 14. Terrible, dirty things. Things that I can’t forget. That said, me and Internet Explorer were like bezzie mates. IE was my BFF.
So while I was in my last couple of years at university and people started talking about some sort of fiery fox, I was sceptical. What was so good about Mr Fox, and what did this zilla thing have to do with anything? Why did Internet Explorer stop getting invited to parties? People started telling me to ditch Internet Explorer. “He’s not fun any more” they’d say. “Dude, you’re missing out on the web”. Like some chump trying drugs for the first time I turned to the camera, shrugged and said “How bad can it be?” and that, my friend, was the start of the demise of my friendship with Internet Explorer.
Explorer started to realise that he didn’t have enough going for him. He couldn’t get people excited about the internet any more. He couldn’t even handle bugs properly. Slowly but surely Internet Explorer lost a lot of friends. He turned to drink to help him cope, and that only made things worse. His only friends now were a few corporate monkeys who were being forced to hang around with him, and their “living for the weekend” attitude didn’t help matters. I think at one point he was even evicted from his flat, although I don’t quite know all the details. We stopped speaking to each other.
Meanwhile, all eyes were on Firefox. After a few years campaigning to be top of everyone’s Christmas card list, he’d done it. Firefox was a hit with most. The ladies wanted to be with him, the guys wanted to be him. He was going from strength to strength. Bolstered by his entourage of plug-ins and extensions, he was invincible. I was there, hanging out with the Fox. I was a good friend of his, and we shared a lot. Sure, he didn’t have the frank honesty that I got with Internet Explorer, but Firefox showed me new things, things that helped me build better websites, and I’d only ever turn to Internet Explorer when I wanted to laugh at how badly he rendered a website I was working on. I used to feel pretty shameful about bullying him like that, but it was easy to forget and skip back in to the welcoming arms of Firefox.
Until recently I was comfortable. I knew what was what, but I couldn’t help notice that another guy had stepped up and was starting to make waves. Mr Chrome. I tried my best to ignore him. He seemed kind of “douchey”.
Firefox was feeling the strain of all the partying. He’d started to put on a bit of weight and instead of being able to get ready in the mornings in a few seconds, he was taking longer and longer to haul himself out of bed. Things started to get quite sluggish, despite his best efforts to appear ready for the day. Most people didn’t see it. In fact, many people still don’t. The Firefox dream isn’t over yet – he’s still got loads of mates all over the place, but they don’t always see the issues. The bugs and his loading problems. By last week I’d pretty much had enough.
I pulled him to one side and said “look mate, things aren’t going too well. I love your plugins and you’re doing well at rendering websites but you’ve been hitting the updates a bit too frequently lately, and if I’m honest, it’s taking you ages to load up in the mornings. I’d just prefer it if you could do thing a bit faster”. Firefox looked at me. A prolonged stare. He stepped back and looked me up and down as if to say “who do you think you are?” and then he turned his back and started walking away. I heard him mutter “sod off then” under his breath.
With that awkward interaction out of the way I felt it was time to have a chat with Mr Chrome. He seemed to have matured a little and we had a lot of friends in common. I soon realised that he was probably my best bet for now. As much as I resented his sleek shiny appearance, and the fact that he reminded me of an Apple fan-boy, I wanted to give him a chance.
What Chrome lacks in an FTP client and download manager integration, he makes up for in speed, rendering capability and… speed. He’s my new best mate basically. I’m a convert, and I don’t even feel bad about it. I’m hoping he can show me some awesome new stuff, and even bring new light to the old sites I used to visit.
What still tugs on the old heart strings is that Internet Explorer is getting older now and he’s going through this mid-life crisis phase. He’s bought a motorbike and got some fancy new haircut. He’s really trying to catch people’s attention. he’s off the booze and he’s making a solid effort, but the problem is, people can’t see past his old ways. People are worried he’ll have a lapse and fall in to naivety. He battles on, thinking that one day he’ll crack the market once more, but I don’t know if he’ll ever amass the grounding his cousins in the Office have.
Firefox is still battling on too. Feeling out-done by Mr Chrome, he’s getting older now but to be fair he’s still got it. I didn’t completely fall out of touch with him, and we meet for a coffee every now and then, but things aren’t what they used to be with him. He’s still slow and often late when we meet. We often chat about the old gang and the times we had back when we first met but the friendship never amounts to much these days. A coffee and a chit chat. A firm handshake and we get on with our lives separately.
I still think about the old times with Internet Explorer. We did so much together. Maybe I knew all along that there was something a bit wrong with him, and my compassion got the better of me for those first few years. Maybe I was naive enough to think it would always be as good as it was in the beginning. Maybe one day he’ll even return to the forefront and we’ll embrace like old friends once more. Until that happens though, I’ve got a new set of friends and we all get a long really well, so guys I’d like you to meet Chrome.
This post was originally written for the QueryClick blog.
About The Author: Alex Cowles
A largely cynical and often sarcastic designer and front-end developer by day. Unknown international DJ & music producer extraordinaire by night (and at weekends). You probably won't like him.