Annoucing a new Chromium-based browser project – Slimjet

We have recently started working on a new browser project called Slimjet. It’s a web browser based on the Chromium code base. For users who are not familiar with Chromium, 99% of the source code in Google’s chrome is based on the chromium open source project. So, we already have SlimBrowser and SlimBoat, why another browser?

SlimBrowser is based on IE’s proprietary trident engine. We can only access via a COM interface which only exposed limited functionality. We have to do a lot of nasty hacking code in order to get a lot of things done in a non-perfect way. Also, the COM interface is very liable to deadlock and crash when used together with a multi-process architecture. SlimBrowser enjoys great features but we do have significant room to improve in terms of reliability. Chromium is open source and will give us ability to fully customize its behaviors and features without any limitation. Another reason to choose the Chromium engine (a.k.a the Blink engine) is that it is arguably the best web platform among all the candidates. It implements all the latest web standards. It also has a high-performance V8 javascript engine. And it has a robust and secure sandboxed multi-process architecture. In comparison, Firefox’s gecko engine is still stuck in the traditional single-process architecture. The major drawback of Chrome? Lack of features. Chrome is way too minimalistic for even moderately savvy users. That’s where Slimjet is going to fill the blank.

So what about SlimBoat? SlimBoat is based on QtWebkit. Blink was originally derived from Webkit as well but Google has made tons of improvements on top of that. Most of the changes are not ported back to the open-source webkit project. So, at this date, Webkit significantly lacks behind Blink on both performance and support of web standard. Recently Digia has also announced they will transit QT’s web engine to Chromium’s blink engine. Obviously they lost confidence in webkit as well. Therefore, we will wait until Digia releases its new QT-wrapped version of blink (called QtWebEngine). After that, we will migrate SlimBoat from QtWebkit to QtWebEngine.

In terms of features, Slimjet will enjoy a similar set of features as SlimBrowser. We will also be able to add some more features which are not possible in SlimBrowser due to the limitation of the IE’s COM interface. Another important good news is that Slimjet will automatically support all the chrome extensions. In comparison, SlimBrowser only works with a very small set of IE’s plugins. That will greatly enhance the usability of Slimjet. To learn more about Slimjet, please visit http://www.slimjet.com .

And there is nothing to worry about the future of SlimBrowser and SlimBoat. We will keep developing and maintaining all the three projects at the same time. We are a small team focused on developing convenient and productive features on top of a browser engine. We don’t want to be tied up to a single engine in case it gets left behind by the others (think of How Nokia fared when it decided to tie itself solely to Windows Phone OS).  We will let the big companies compete on the browser engine performance while we simply built features on top of the best engines to maximize user’s productivity.

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Use favorites efficiently in SlimBrowser 7.0

In SlimBrowser 7.0, the automatic list of suggestions showing up while you are typing in the address bar has been redesigned to list matching entries from all your favorite links. In SlimBrowser 6.0, if you want to find a favorite, you have to open the favorites side panel and click the search button to search for it. While that feature is still available in SlimBrowser 7.0, you can search for a particular favorite directly from the address bar in a much easier way. Just type one or more keywords which either appear in the URL or the title of the favorite. If one or more matching items are found, they will show up on the suggestion list. Just press the down arrow to select the item you want and press enter to open the favorite link.

This great search feature further weakens the need to organize your bookmarks into categories. If you are a savvy internet researcher, you can easily have 1000+ favorites. Organizing them into subfolders won’t make locating a particular bookmark a lot easier. If you have to think which folder to store the link every time you bookmark a page, that  seems slightly painful and distracting (at least to me). That’s why I created the Quick-Bookmark feature, which lets you save a bookmark into a predefined folder. Give it a name such as “ReadLater” or “Unsorted”. If you see a page which might end up useful some time, just right click on the tab and select “Quick-Bookmark”. The page link will be saved without bothering you with the choice of picking a folder. That’s very efficient if you need bookmark a lot of pages in a short period of time.

The searching capability from the address bar makes it make more sense to use the Quick-Bookmark feature instead of the regular “Add To Favorites” menu. Now it’s better to think of your favorites as a a database which you can easily and quickly find what you want. You don’t have to pay much attention to how it’s organized internally.

Despite everything I said, there are always people who insist on organizing everything they own into a perfect state. That’s certain a good practice if you have the energy to do that. :)

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How to quickly share a screenshot on facebook

We have added the feature to capture screenshot of selected area of a web page (accessible from menu File: Capture Screenshot of Selected Area) in SlimBrowser V6.01.080. Combine this feature and the upload clipboard image feature, we arrive at a very convenient way for users to share a screenshot (full or partial) of web pages you are visiting on facebook.

Let’s say you are viewing a web page which has some interesting content that you want to share. Sharing a link sometimes won’t cut it since some of the link might not be publicly accessible. So let’s capture a screenshot of it by selecting the menu File: Capture Screenshot of Selected Area. The captured screenshot will be copied into clipboard. After that, go to you facebook wall page, click “Add Photo/Video” to bring up the photo upload input box. Right click in the photo upload input box and select “Upload Clipboard Image” from the popup menu. Then, write some comments if you want and then click Post button to complete the wall post which includes the screenshot you’ve just captured. Easy enough, isn’t it?

 

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Upload Clipboard Image Easily

Most people upload and share photo files. But some of us would like to share images from other source as well, such as a screenshot or a piece of image from some drawing software such as Microsoft Visio. Normally we would have to copy the image to clipboard, save it to a file, browse for the file in the file upload dialog and then upload it. It’s not a daunting task but it’s not as convenient as it should be. Would it be really convenient if we can directly upload image from the clibpoard like a normal paste operation?

Based on this idea, we are implementing a feature called “Upload Clipboard Image“. Here is how it works. Just right click in the file input box on the left side of the [browse...] button and select “Upload Clipboard Image” from the popup menu. The clipboard image will be automatically saved to a temporary file for uploading. As simple as that.

Here is the screenshot of using this feature to share photos on facebook,

Upload Clipboard Image

Upload Clipboard Image

This feature will be included in the next build or two. Kindly let me know what you guys think of this feature.

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Offline bookmarks that support full-text search

Nowadays the Internet contains so many information that a lot of people do serious research online via Google search every day. When we find something valuable, we usually bookmark the web page and save it for later reference. As time goes on, we can end up having a huge number of bookmarks. I, for one, have more than a thousand bookmarks. If We don’t organize them, you will end up having too many bookmarks on the top level of the favorites menu. Organizing them into sub-folders and subfolders help to some extent. However, when you have more than 20 subfolders, it’s not easy to find a particular bookmark from within all the different folders. Whenever I add a new bookmark, it always give me a headache trying to decide which folder to put it in.

Yes, the current bookmark system in SlimBrowser supports searching by keywords. But the search only checks the URL and title of the bookmark. Nowadays, every webmaster is trying their best to do Search Engine Optimization. The result is that the title of a web page is usually not very indicative of the actual content. Therefore, pretty often, you can’t find the bookmark you want.

Instead of treating the bookmark system as a tree structure that expects human organization, let’s simply treat the bookmark system as a fully-searchable database. I am planning to add an option for users to cache an offline copy of the bookmarked page (in plaintext format without all the tags and images). After that, when users search for favorites, SlimBrowser will search for title, URL and the cached text copy. Under this approach, users can use the “Quick Bookmark” feature more comfortably, which simply bookmarks the current page into a predefined folder without prompting.

Another related enhancement to the favorites/bookmark menu is to add a special folder called “Recently bookmarked” to help you quickly locate bookmarks that were added fairly recently without resorting to the full text search.

Feel free to comment if this feature will be useful to you or not. I am thinking of adding this feature pretty soon.

 

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Weather feature fixed in 6.01.065

The weather feature in 6.01.064 and earlier stopped working a couple of days ago because Google quietely shut down the Google weather API service.

We have switched to the free weather api provided by World Weather Online . Users who use the weather feature please do an update.

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