Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Is Chrome intentionally trying to mess up web development?

A couple of weeks ago I posted about the weird behavior of Chrome's omnibox. Today, am posting about how Chrome's bungled a very simple feature of all web browsers. Since the very early days of the web, web browsers have always had an option for viewing the source code of the currently rendered page. Typically the menu is called "View Source" or something similar. You click it and you get the HTML source for the page you're looking at. Very simple, right? Well Chrome does it differently. In the spirit of complicating simple things, clicking on "View Source" in Chrome doesn't just give you the HTML of the current page. Oh no! It makes another request to the web server and shows you the HTML for that version. Yep. I am not sure how that's better than just showing the HTML of the already rendered page but that's what Chrome does. So in addition to using the omnibox to complicate web development, the "View Source" option makes a trivial action more complicated. BTW, who uses that option the most? Developers. The very same people who invoke that option because something in the currently rendered page is incorrect. And God help you if you have a debugger attached to the webserver process (as developers typically do).

Why am I so sure that Google messed this up? First, all the problems associated with their implementation of the omnibox that I described in my previous post apply here also. Second, Google "view source chrome" and you'll get a bunch of results describing this odd behavior. If that many people are having problems with this simple command, perhaps they ought to fix it?