What’s New in Chrome 19

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I doubt you noticed but Chrome 19 was released this week. I rarely mention Chrome’s updates because, well, they’re rarely worth mentioning. However, I’ve discovered a few hidden gems in the latest browser…

Tab Syncing

The big new feature is tab syncing. If you’re using Chrome on two or more PCs/smartphones, you should see an “Other devices” link on the new tab page. Click it and you can open synchronized links. I say “should” because I haven’t been able to get it working.

Tab syncing has been available in Firefox for a while so I’m surprised it’s taken quite so long to appear in Chrome. Hopefully, you’ll have better luck than I did.

CSS3 calc() Support

The webkit team has finally implemented one of my favorite CSS3 features: the little-known calc() function. It allows you to define calculated dimensions, e.g.

#myelement { width: calc(50% - 2em + 4px); }

Chrome supports calc() with the -webkit prefix. Firefox uses -moz and IE9 is happy without prefixes. To use it effectively, you’ll need fallback code such as:

	width: 46%;
	width: -webkit-calc(50% - 2em + 4px);
	width: -moz-calc(50% - 2em + 4px);
	width: -o-calc(50% - 2em + 4px);
	width: calc(50% - 2em + 4px);

Combined Settings Page

Choosing tool > Settings now displays a side menu with History, Extensions, Settings and Help. The Help page provides a couple of links and the update checker which normally appears on the “About” dialog (will that disappear soon?)

New JavaScript/ECMAScript 5.1 (Harmony) Features

A number of experimental JavaScript features have made their way from the Harmony specification into Chrome’s V8 engine. However, they’re not available by default — you’ll need to “Enable Experimental JavaScript” in chrome://flags. Language structures such as collections and proxies look great, but it’ll be some time before they’re available in all browsers.

Security and Bug Fixes

21 issues have been fixed in Chrome 19 and Google has paid almost $15,000 to eagle-eyed security hackers.

Chrome has remained fast and stable. It looks set to knock IE from the top of the browser usage chart during the summer of 2012. I’m not convinced any other vendor can prevent Google’s domination of the web and the software we use to access it.

Craig BucklerCraig Buckler
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Craig is a freelance UK web consultant who built his first page for IE2.0 in 1995. Since that time he's been advocating standards, accessibility, and best-practice HTML5 techniques. He's created enterprise specifications, websites and online applications for companies and organisations including the UK Parliament, the European Parliament, the Department of Energy & Climate Change, Microsoft, and more. He's written more than 1,000 articles for SitePoint and you can find him @craigbuckler.

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