Chrome Add-ons, JavaScript Performance, a Web 3.0 Conference and More [Best of September '08 #3]

Chrome continued to be of interest this week, with a Web 3.0 conference as a bonus (September 15-21 2008):

  • The last word on JavaScript performance among competing browser engines has apparently not yet been spoken. This week it was reported that an updated version of SquirrelFish, dubbed Extreme, which is the native WebKit JavaScript engine, has regained the lead in JavaScript performance. Reportedly it was faster than both the V8 engine of Google Chrome and TraceMonkey of Firefox. The results suggest that Google should have stuck with the original SquirrelFish engine of WebKit, instead of developing their own V8. Can we expect a close comeback from the V8 team? Let the struggle continue!
    Note however that performance reports like these must always be taken with a grain of salt. For example, it is quite easy to optimize the code to perform well on a specific test.
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  • Google Chrome will eventually support Add-ons and User scripts à la Greasemonkey, said Google Engineer Ojan Vafai at the Web 2.0 Expo last week. They hope to make a stable implementation, he said, referring to the less stable experience of Add-ons with Firefox. Personally, with Chrome I miss the Google Toolbar, with the Gmail notifier and the PageRank indicator. Hopefully it will be released for Chrome soon.
    At the same Web 2.0 panel, Microsoft's IE platform architect Chris Wilson, hinted that IE might add support for vector graphics and the canvas element, a part of the HTML 5 standard I wrote about last week.
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  • If you want to stay on top with the latest updates to Google Chrome, you can join the Dev Channel and get access to more recent but potentially less stable updates to the browser.
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  • Google's embeddable 3D virtual world Lively, which I wrote about at launch in July, has hitherto received little attention. Nevertheless, Google has high plans for the service, revealed creative director Kevin Hanna at the recent Game Developers' Conference. They plan to open up the API further to allow for the creation of entire 3D games. In the long run, Hanna hopes that Lively will become part of the backbone of the Web, much like Java, Flash and HTML are today.
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  • A Pew Internet Project report shows that 97% of all (American) teens, ages 12-17, play some kind of video game on a computer, console or portable device. Further, nearly 50% of all boys visit game related web sites or forums, and 14% contribute to those sites. For girls, the corresponding figures are somewhat lower. The study also shows that about one third of teens play mature or adult rated games. Of those teens, boys are in majority, 79% vs. 21% girls. In conclusion: regulations will always fail, and boys are still boys (phew!).
    Where I think the study fails, is that it does not distinguish online Flash-based games as a separate category, despite the fact that it is an important genre, and presumably popular by younger teens at least.
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  • Finally a Web 3.0 conference, Oct 16-17, in Santa Clara, Ca. Jupitermedia is organizer and RWW is a sponsor. Semantic Web technologies seems to be a key feature of the event. Don't miss my Web 3.0 review from April, and the catch-up in July.
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