It was in line with the likelihood of summer following spring that somebody would declare an application optimised for Google’s Chrome, the new web browser that has dominated the geekier end of technology news this week. And it turns out that that somebody is rising star of the software-as-a-service movement, NetSuite.
Of course, one of the attractions of Chrome is that most websites render well, despite not having been written with the browser in mind. But NetSuite has gone a step further, tweaking its hosted business applications for CRM, e-commerce, accounting and services automation to take advantage of Chrome’s fast handling of Ajax elements such as type-ahead lookups (where search terms are automatically completed) and list editing. The aim of NetSuite (and that of Google too) will be to make the feel of applications generally more responsive.
“We’ve been building the apps using Ajax to be fast and user-friendly for several years now and with Chrome we’ve been able to reap the benefits of that,” said Toby Davidson, director of professional services at NetSuite, which was also sharply out of the traps with iPhone and Firefox 3.0 optimisations.
“We’ve had to make changes and we’ve worked very hard over the last few days so the speed of look-ups and interactions is there. [NetSuite co-founder and former Oracle vice president] Evan Goldberg has spearheaded it and the developers have been burning the candle at both ends to get it done.”
But is this just compatibility tweaking or are there hard speed gains? Davidson insisted the latter is the case for some program elements.
“I’m seeing a five-fold increase in speed on type-aheads and lists over IE,” he reports. “In quick-add portlets [plug-in user interface components] the browser returns to a ‘ready’ state much faster.”
Davidson also has a robust answer as to whether Chrome, still in beta, is faster than Firefox.
“Firefox is faster than IE; Chrome is faster than Firefox,” he said. “There are different browser features that will attract different users, but I’ll be using Chrome.”
NetSuite said support for Chrome will be across all its applications by mid-October.