Google’s Chrome browser has enjoyed remarkably fast adoption, both with the general public and here at Clockwork. And recently, it surpassed Internet Explorer as the most used browser. One of the most significant differentiators is Chrome’s suitability as a platform. The idea of “browser as a platform” is not a new thing — in fact, it’s been Google’s explicit goal since the early days of Chrome.

Other web-based platforms like Applets, Shockwave, and Silverlight have come and gone, their promises unfulfilled. So skepticism of such claims is warranted.

But for us, with Chrome, the dream may be coming true. 

A successful platform can be used in ways its designers never intended. The key qualities for this success are:

  • Friendliness – the platform must feel easy to use and work with.
  • Stability – The platform must be relatively free of failures, and must also function as expected.  Surprises are not good. 
  • Tolerance – The platform must respond gracefully when things go wrong.   No blue screens of death.

At least part of the reason we’ve taken to Chrome is that we find it convenient to write new tools for ourselves using Chrome as a base. That means we can work more efficiently and more easily; which also explains why we’re partial to the browser.

Below is a little more about how we integrated it into our workflow, culminating in a recently developed tool that’s helped the Testers in our QA department shave some time off a frequently recurring task: closing bugs.

Try it out.

We started simple. We wrote some javascript that automatically filled out long forms. These were fancy forms with complex data (a generic form population tool would not work). We were delighted at how easy it was and what great–and immediate–results we saw: our manual work was significantly reduced. (It’s important to note that we had no thoughts on platforms here; we needed something quick and reliable.)

That worked, so let’s use it again.

We built on that success. Not through coordinated effort, but as individuals realizing that automating tasks with Chrome javascript is easy and helpful.

Well, this is awesome.

Chrome extensions are dirt simple. Their ease of creation has crossed a magic threshold, past which it’s realistic to automate small things that otherwise wouldn’t be worth the effort. Someone made an extension to reduce the annoyance of YouTube comments; Someone else made an extension to avoid distraction.

The machine is a part of me.

Leaf, one of our QA specialists, wrote a Chrome extension which allows him to do quick and easy tasks in our bug-tracking system. Below is a video that walks you through the extension’s capabilities. If you don’t want to watch it, here are the takeaways:

  • Using the mouse, Leaf closes 3 bugs in 54 seconds.
  • Using his custom extension, Leaf closes 3 bugs in 24 seconds.

That is exactly fantastic. 

Of course, this is one person automating a personal workflow in a custom way. And while this solution may not be ideal for anyone else, what’s notable is that the effort needed to create your ideal solution is very small, thanks to Chrome’s convenience as a platform.

If you’ve had similar good results with writing code on Chrome the platform, we’d like to hear about it. Or if you’ve been down this garden path before with earlier “platforms”, call us out for being silly optimists.