Interview: what's next for Google Chrome

Chrome - innovating
Chrome - innovating

For many, Google Chrome's arrival in the already competitive browser market was a real bolt from the blue, but for software engineer Lars Bak it was the end product of years of work.

Bak heads up the development of the v8 JavaScript engine in Chrome, one of the key features of Google's browser and also one of the most innovative.

In the past few months, the importance of browsers coping with JavaScript and the web apps that are built on it have become increasingly obvious, and its something that Bak has been delighted to see.

"It's fantastic," he tells TechRadar. "This is exactly why we started two-and-a-half years ago.

"When we started we were facing no competition; all browsers had the same speed in terms of JavaScript and it turned out to be bit of a bottle neck for web applications.

"So that's exactly the reason we started to try to get more speed in JavaScript and enable bigger JavaScript web applications.

"I think not everything about browsers is JavaScript – but the best thing about JavaScript and its performance is it's measurable so it's very comparable in browsers.

"When we started out the whole idea was to spark innovation into the field because as soon as we come out with v8 you could see other browsers coming out with their own version of faster JavaScript."

TR: Do you feel that it was Chrome's focus on JavaScript and your innovations that prompted other browsers to put more focus on it?

LB: "I hope that our innovation was what prompted that. It certainly looked like that within the timeline. It's a reasonable explanation.

"It doesn't really matter because you also have to think about having one [fast] browser when all the others are slow is no good because all the apps have to be designed for the lowest common denominator. So we want all browsers to be fast.

"If you look at the history of JavaScript it was originally designed to do things like have a pushable button, but it moved beyond that to become what nobody expected; namely a programming language for web applications.

"And I think one of the reasons we started from scratch in terms of browsers was that we didn't believe that the existing platforms were robust and scalable enough for building a high performance engine.

"In essence, what we wanted to show was that we could build a JavaScript engine which is scalable and have enough juice left to run future web applications."

TR: Do you think you've managed to build a web browser that is a little closer to being future proof in terms of web apps?

LB: "Yes, I think I'd say that. I mean we haven't designed the whole thing from scratch. I worked on virtual machines for 20 years on languages like Java, and Chrome is certainly standing on the shoulders of these systems.

"I believe that we have some of these features so that we have a generation-based JavaScript which means that if you have a large working set inside a JavaScript engine it will still perform well.

"Most web apps today aren't using that scalability but it will come."

Patrick Goss

Patrick Goss is the ex-Editor in Chief of TechRadar. Patrick was a passionate and experienced journalist, and he has been lucky enough to work on some of the finest online properties on the planet, building audiences everywhere and establishing himself at the forefront of digital content.  After a long stint as the boss at TechRadar, Patrick has now moved on to a role with Apple, where he is the Managing Editor for the App Store in the UK.