As online content becomes more robust and users continue to increase the amount of online services they use daily, the demand for more streamlined and organized internet browsers grows. Open source browsers like Google Chrome and RockMelt are answering that demand by offering organized integration of social media content, better user interfaces and fast speeds. This post will discuss the current version of Chrome and the upcoming RockMelt, as well as the concept of open source coding as it relates to these web browsers.
Chrome is the new browser designed in-house by Google. Released officially in 2008, Chrome appears as a streamlined browser with a stripped down user interface. It allows for user customization through various widgets, as well as a selection of themes
that allows users to choose the aesthetics of their browser window.
Chrome is a somewhat unique browser in that it draws its source code from Chromium, an open source project that allows the user community to build upon and modify the code to make a fully community customized browser. By using Chromium as its source, Chrome is essentially being created and modified by its own users, which in theory will lead to a browser that closely fits the needs of the community. While this is most likely an advantage, a disadvantage of this open source format is the possibility of illegally obtained code from other sources being added into Chrome’s structure.
Chrome has capabilities that allow for an organized social network experience, mainly through widgets and plug-ins. For example, an available Facebook plug-in allows you to change your status, check your wall, and view news feeds from your browser window without having to open Facebook iteself. While Chrome may have elements that enhance the social networking experience, a new browser may have picked up where Chrome left off…
RockMelt is an upcoming browser that is very social network focused. It has an interface similar to Chrome’s, but with added toolbars on the side of the window which contain organized information drawn from the user’s connected social network sites.
RockMelt is actually built on the base created by Google’s Chromium project, which may account for the functional and aesthetic similarities between the two. This shows an interesting aspect of the open source concept because it is a browser built upon code made available by Chromium, that has no other connection to Google and the developers that created Chromium. Being built from an open source project, RockMelt shares code with popular browsers like Chrome and Firefox, and contains built in compatibility for managing Facebook and Twitter. The main concept behind the browser is a completely integrated social network experience available and visible during the browsing session, regardless of what the user is doing within the window. Facebook and Twitter information is displayed within the window in a way that is designed to be easily utilized but unobtrusive to the tasks being performed within the browser window. Today’s users rely on a variety of different social network sites to stay connected and informed, which makes necessary a way to effectively organize and access each service while online. RockMelt was designed to fulfill that need.
Open Source Opinions
New browsers like Chrome and RockMelt are interesting iterations of the web browser heavily influenced by the demands and activities of today’s users. Both browsers draw on the concept of open source coding to fit the desires of the community as closely as possible. I find open source projects to be interesting and beneficial to the development of more effective programs. I can think of few better ways for a company to see what users want than to let capable users build the code for them. I like the idea of any product that is the result of a collaboration of many people, whether it be a piece of art or web browser. The input of multiple people with the necessary skills, ideas, and perspectives will usually lead to a quality finished product. That being said, I am also a firm believer in intellectual property and giving credit where it is due for any personal work. I think that companies and entities hosting open source projects need to be very diligent in keeping stolen and unauthorized code from being used in their products. As open source projects gain widespread usage, it will be interesting to see if they become the normal way to program browsers in the future.