Wednesday, September 03, 2008

The world in Verdana

OK, by now everybody and their cat has heard about Google Chrome. The general buzz on Slashdot and blogs seems to be "it's not Firefox" and, more specifically, a general lament of the chicken and egg problem surrounding the release of a new platform when there isn't any software (in this case "plug-ins" or "add-ons") to run on it. Well, OK, there are some Chrome plug-ins available, but Chrome extensions are currently NOT supported. On the other hand, the source code is out there and given that it has the "Google brand", it won't be hard to find motivated geeks hacking some neat software to [eventually] bring Chrome on par with Firefox, with said geeks' hidden agenda of being noticed by Google and be offered a nice googlejob where they get to sit on their googlechair, etc.

It's technically not such a bad chicken-and-egg situation, with the massive and thorough testing Google [claims to] have performed. Plus, the browser is more than a fine replacement for users of Internet Explorer or plain, out-of-the-box Firefox, thus making all us geeks appear crazy when non-techies ask us why we're not using Google Chrome, when we use everything else Google throws at us.

Anyway, I didn't set out to write yet another review, but to post solutions to problems I encountered:

Installing Chrome as a non-administrator

I hit issue 119 ( Install Fails on W2K8 with low-rights user ) when I tried to install on my computer as a non-administrator and got the following:

Thankfully, the work-around by stephen.oakman in comment 6 worked and I found the elusive chrome_installer.exe in a folder matching the pattern C:\Documents and Settings\[user]\Local Settings\Application Data\Google\Update\Download\[guid]\chrome_installer.exe and was able to install it successfully.

Setting the minimum font size

I also had the same accessibility lament about minimum font sizes and font family overrides. For example, here is the Getting Started page in Firefox 2, with Verdana @ 14pt bliss:

...and this is what Chrome gave me with the same page:

OK, yes, the Firefox version looks weird with the title text not lining up with the logo, etc. but all the content is perfectly legible, which is more important to me. Well, more legible than the fonts picked by the web developer.

Thankfully, I have solved the first half the problem with a few quick searches in the source code and now my C:\Documents and Settings\[user]\Local Settings\Application Data\Google\Chrome\User Data\Default\Preferences file contains this little gem:

"webkit": {
"webprefs": {
"cursive_font_family": "Verdana",
"default_fixed_font_size": 14,
"default_font_size": 14,
"fantasy_font_family": "Verdana",
"fixed_font_family": "Courier New",
"minimum_font_size": 14,
"minimum_logical_font_size": 14,
"sansserif_font_family": "Verdana",
"serif_font_family": "Verdana"

...which gives me a slight improvement in readability in Chrome:

You can find out what the names of the [other] supported hidden preferences are by peeking into chrome/common/ and cross-referencing with WebContents::GetWebkitPrefs() in chrome/browser/ In particular, you'll find (as of this writing) that the other half of my problem is already identified in a comment:

// User CSS is currently disabled because it crashes chrome. See
// webkit/glue/webpreferences.h for more details.

...with the more details being:

// TODO(tc): User style sheets will not work in chrome because it tries to
// load the style sheet using a request without a frame.
bool user_style_sheet_enabled;
GURL user_style_sheet_location;

D'oh. Maybe this will inspire someone else to fix that part of the code or otherwise provide the elusive "let me choose my own damn fonts" setting that I rely on for keeping my sight and posture in good shape.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

i guess i'll just keep performing this search:"google+chrome"+"allow+pages+to+choose+their+own"

...until someone pops up with an answer. :)