Chrome 37 Beta: DirectWrite on Windows and the <dialog> element

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Today’s Chrome Beta channel release includes a slew of new developer features to help you make richer, faster and more compelling web content and apps, especially for mobile devices. Unless otherwise noted, changes described below apply to Chrome for Android, Windows, Mac, Linux, and Chrome OS.

DirectWrite on Windows

Chrome 37 adds support for DirectWrite, an API on Windows for clear, high-quality text rendering even on high DPI displays. Before DirectWrite, Chrome used the Graphics Device Interface (GDI) to render text. GDI dates back to the mid-80's and reflects the engineering tradeoffs of that time, particularly for slower, lower-resolution machines. The switch to DirectWrite has been a top user request for years, and required extensive re-architecting and streamlining of Chrome's font rendering engine.

Some users should begin seeing better-looking fonts and increased rendering performance as we roll out DirectWrite, with no changes required by web developers. Assuming everything goes smoothly, all users will experience the improvements by the Chrome 37 stable release.

Compare the below screenshots, taken with and without DirectWrite enabled.



New HTML element: <dialog>

In this release we're also adding support for the <dialog> HTML5 element, which enables developers to create styled dialog boxes in their web applications and control them via a JavaScript API. For more details, check out some code samples and see <dialog> in action. The <dialog> element is a better-designed alternative to showModalDialog(), which is now disabled as we recently announced.

Other updates in this release

  • The Web Cryptography JavaScript API is enabled by default starting in Chrome 37, allowing developers to perform cryptographic operations such as hashing, signature generation/verification, and encryption.
  • Subpixel font scaling is now supported, which enables smooth animations of text between font sizes.  
  • TouchEvent co-ordinates are now doubles instead of longs, enabling higher-fidelity touch interactions on high-DPI displays.
  • CSS cursor values "zoom-in" and "zoom-out" are now unprefixed.
  • The number of cores on a physical machine can now be accessed by navigator.hardwareConcurrency.
  • The user's preferred languages are now accessible by navigator.languages, and the languagechange event is fired when this is updated.
  • The CSS Shapes Module allows developers to define non-rectangular text wrapping boundaries around floated elements.
  • NPAPI deprecation continues according to our previously-announced plan with a harder-to-bypass blocking UI
  • The default monospace font on Windows is now Consolas instead of Courier New.
As always, visit chromestatus.com/features for a complete overview of Chrome’s developer features,  and circle +Google Chrome Developers for more frequent updates!

Posted by Emil A Eklund, Software Engineer and Senior Blog DirectWriter



Disabling showModalDialog

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

The web platform has evolved organically over the past two decades, slowly growing new capabilities and APIs. Many features that are added are great ideas that enable web developers to make even better applications. But some APIs turn out, in retrospect, to be mistakes. Over time, the platform accretes more bad APIs, which makes it harder to add new browser features, confuses web developers, and even introduces security bugs. showModalDialog is a bad API that we deprecated earlier this year, and in Chrome 37 we will disable support for it by default.

showModalDialog was first introduced in Internet Explorer 4 and although it was never formally standardized, over time most other browsers added support for it. It allows applications to show a dialog of HTML content that freezes all other content while showing. showModalDialog is not a commonly used API: based on our usage counters, less than 0.006% of pages use it.

Unfortunately, showModalDialog's unique ability to freeze content is now widely regarded as a mis-feature in terms of user experience, code complexity, and security. From a usability perspective, showModalDialog rudely demands that you interact with it by freezing all of your other tabs—even ones from other sites. showModalDialog also requires complex and hard-to-maintain code scattered throughout the codebase. This complexity complicates the behavior of new web features like Mutation Observers, Object.observe, and Promises. It also makes showModalDialog a source of a disproportionate number of bugs, including serious security vulnerabilities. It is for these reasons that we decided to turn off showModalDialog by default in the next version of Chrome.

Although very few sites use showModalDialog, the small minority that do—disproportionately enterprise sites—have come to rely heavily on it. In order to give these sites more time to update, we have added a temporary Enterprise Policy setting to re-enable showModalDialog. In May 2015 this setting will be removed and showModalDialog will be completely removed from Chromium. Affected sites should begin work to update their sites as soon as possible.

Although it can be difficult, sometimes the only way to go forward is to leave the past behind. Removing bad APIs will help us make the web a more consistent and capable platform for both developers and users.

Posted by Adam Barth, Software Engineer

Migrate Your Legacy Packaged Apps to Chrome Apps

Monday, June 30, 2014

In 2010, we created packaged apps to fill a missing link between extensions and hosted apps. They look the same as a hosted app to the user, but under the covers, they are more like traditional extensions. Over time, we realized that a clearer separation between the Chrome browser and apps was necessary, both for security reasons and to conform to user expectations. We launched the next generation of Chrome Apps, a new version of packaged apps, last year to address those issues, and today we're announcing the deprecation of legacy packaged apps.

Starting today, no new legacy packaged apps can be published in the Chrome Web Store. In December, all existing legacy packaged app listings will be removed from Chrome Web Store’s search and browse functions. Existing legacy packaged apps can be updated until Chrome stops loading them in June of 2015. Nothing will change for hosted apps or new packaged apps.

Developers are strongly encouraged to migrate their legacy packaged apps to either Chrome Apps or extensions. To get started, check out our migration tutorial, and contact us on the chromium-apps forum or our G+ page with any questions.

Posted by Amanda Bishop, Product Manager


Cast Away with Android TV and Google Cast

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

[Cross-posted from the Google Developers Blog]


Last summer, we launched Chromecast, a small, affordable device that lets you cast online video, music and anything from the web to your TV. Today at Google I/O, we announced Android TV, the newest form factor to the Android platform, and a way to extend the reach of Google Cast to more devices, like televisions, set-top boxes and consoles.

Check out Coming to a Screen Near You for some details on everything we’re doing to make your TV the place to be.

For developers though--sorry, you don’t get to unwind in front of the TV. We need you to get to work and help us create the best possible TV experience, with all of the new features announced at I/O today.


Get started with Android TV


In addition to Google Cast apps that send content to the TV, you can now build immersive native apps and console-style games on Android TV devices. These native apps work with TV remotes and gamepads, even if you don’t have your phone handy. The Android L Developer Preview SDK includes the new Leanback support library that allows you to design smoother, simpler, living room apps.

And this is just the beginning. In the fall, new APIs will allow you to cast directly to these apps, so users can control the app with the phone, the remote, or even their Android Wear watch. You’ll also start seeing Android TV set-top boxes, consoles and televisions from Sony, TP Vision, Sharp, Asus, Razer and more.

Help more users find your Google Cast app


We want to help users more easily find your content, so we’ve improved the Google Cast SDK developer console to let you upload your app icon, app name, and app category for Android, iOS and Chrome. These changes will help your app get discovered on chromecast.com/apps and on Google Play.


Additional capabilities have also been added to the Google Cast SDK. These include: Media Player Library enhancements, bringing easier integration with MPEG-DASH Smooth Streaming, and HLS. We’ve also added WebAudio & WebGL support, made the Cast Companion Library available, and added enhanced Closed Caption support. And coming soon, we will add support for queuing and ID delegation.

Ready to get started? Visit developer.android.com/tv and developers.google.com/cast for the SDKs, style guides, tutorials, sample code, and the API references. You can also request an ADT-1 devkit to bootstrap your Android TV development.

By Dave Burke and Majd Bakar, Engineering Directors and TV Junkies

Web Fundamentals and Web Starter Kit: Resources for Modern Web Development

Thursday, June 19, 2014

The web is a rich computing platform with unparalleled reach. In recent years, mobile devices have brought the web to billions of new users and introduced many new device capabilities, screen sizes, input methods, and more. To help developers navigate this brave new world, we built Web Fundamentals, a curated source for modern best practices. Today, we’re making it even easier to build multi-device experiences with the Beta release of the Web Starter Kit.
Web Fundamentals' guidelines are intended to be fundamental to the platform: useful no matter which framework you choose or which browser your users run. We have articles about responsive layouts, forms, touch, media, performance, device capabilities, and setting up a development workflow. Articles cover both coding and design. For example, the article on layout design patterns explains both the usability tradeoffs between different layout options and how to implement them. The performance section complements PageSpeed Insights, an auditing tool that encourages instant (<1 second) mobile web sites.

Designed to help you apply Web Fundamentals' best practices in new projects, Web Starter Kit is a lightweight boilerplate with templates and tooling. Web Starter Kit gives you responsive layout, a visual style guide, and optional workflow features like performance optimization so you can keep your pages lean and fast.

Web Starter Kit preview animation
Both Web Fundamentals and the Web Starter Kit are actively developed and curated by a team of developers from Google and several open-source contributors. Our source code is available on GitHub, and we welcome contributions and feedback. Looking ahead, we’ll be adding new content and working with the web development community to refine our advice. Please file an issue or submit a pull request to help us capture web development best practices.

We look forward to a more modern, multi-device web!

Posted by Paul Kinlan, Developer Advocate and Web Fundamentalist

See what your apps & extensions have been up to

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Extensions are a great way to enhance the browsing experience. However, some extensions ask for broad permissions that allow access to sensitive data such as browser cookies or history. Last year, we introduced the Chrome Apps & Extensions Developer Tool, which provides an improved developer experience for debugging apps and extensions. The newest version of the tool, available today, lets power users audit any app or extension and get visibility into the precise actions that it's performing.

Screen Shot 2014-06-09 at 4.06.07 PM.png
Once you’ve installed the Chrome Apps & Extensions Developer Tool, it will start locally auditing your extensions and apps as you use them. For each app or extension, you can see historical activity over the past few days as well as real-time activity by clicking the “Behavior” link. The tool highlights activities that involve your information, such as reading website cookies or modifying web sites, in a privacy section. You can also search for URLs to see if an extension has modified any matching pages. If you’re debugging an app or extension, you can use the “Realtime” tab to watch the stream of API calls as an extension or app runs. This can help you track down glitches or identify unnecessary API calls.

Whether you’re a Chrome power user or a developer testing an extension, the Chrome Apps & Extensions Developer Tool can give you the information you need to understand how apps and extensions affect your browsing.

Posted by Adrienne Porter Felt, Software Engineer and Extension Tinkerer

Try out the new 64-bit Windows Canary and Dev channels

Tuesday, June 03, 2014

Today we’re announcing the addition of 64-bit support to Chrome, with two brand new 64-bit Dev and Canary channels for Windows 7 and 8 users, giving a faster and more secure browsing experience. To try it out, download the 64-bit installer from our Canary or Dev download pages. The new version replaces the existing version while preserving all your settings and bookmarks, so there’s no need to uninstall a current installation of Chrome.

The majority of our users on Windows 7 or higher now have systems capable of running 64-bit applications, and this version of Chrome can take full advantage of these newer capabilities. This includes several improvements that align perfectly with Chrome’s core principles of speed, security and stability:

  • Speed: 64-bit allows us to take advantage of the latest processor and compiler optimizations, a more modern instruction set, and a calling convention that allows more function parameters to be passed quickly by registers. As a result, speed is improved, especially in graphics and multimedia content, where we see an average 25% improvement in performance.
  • Security: With Chrome able to take advantage of the latest OS features such as High Entropy ASLR on Windows 8, security is improved on 64-bit platforms as well. Those extra bits also help us better defend against exploitation techniques such as JIT spraying, and improve the effectiveness of our existing security defense features like heap partitioning.
  • Stability: Finally, we’ve observed a marked increase in stability for 64-bit Chrome over 32-bit Chrome. In particular, crash rates for the the renderer process (i.e. web content process) are almost half that of 32-bit Chrome.
We encourage all our users, especially developers, to give the new 64-bit Chrome a spin, and we’re looking forward to hearing your feedback so we can make 64-bit Chrome work great and bring its benefits to our Beta and Stable channel users.

Posted by Will Harris, Software Engineer and Stretcher of Pointers