6 min read | 1745 words | 261 views | 0 comments
As some people may know, my primary browser of choice is SRWare Iron 70. Iron is a Chromium-based browser that's very similar to Chrome, without the phoning home to Google (although some people allege there are other concerns). How much better than Chrome it is exactly is up for debate, but it essentially looks and feels exactly like Chrome. I'll use both Chromium and Chrome throughout this post to reflect the fact that Chrome is just a specific Chromium-based browser, and I haven't been a regular Chrome user in years now, so using Chromium is more encompassing.
I don't use the latest version of Iron, which keeps step with Chromium, for better or for worse — I use version 70 - yes, this corresponds to Chromium 70, which dates back to October 2018. That means my primary browser is more than three years old! By web standards, that's admittedly pretty ancient (but seriously, browser cops, go get a life). In fact, the browser worked pretty well for the last years until it didn't. More on that in a second.
Why use Chromium 70? This is infamously the last version of Chromium that allows using the old UI interface (you know, remember when Chrome had rounded trapezoidial tabs? Yeah, that's what I'm talking about.) At the time, when Chrome 71 was released, some people were not happy about this change. Actually, that's a bit of an understatement. People were furious. Not just a bit miffed off, but many users were so irritated they swore they would drop Chrome for good. Complaints and pleading to restore the option abounded on the Chromium bug tracker.
Did Google listen? No. They don't have to. They're Google. They don't care.
I suspect in the three years since, many of these people who were so worked about the UI change may have eventually gotten used to it - perhaps forgotten about it, or at least grit their teeth and grudgingly upgraded anyways. Usually, these things temper with time. I was never one of these users. I stopped upgrading after 70; in fact, an advantage of using Iron is that it doesn't have a built-in auto-updater, so it'll never force update on you. If you're intending to stay with a particular version of a browser version indefinitely, that's an important capability to have.
At the end of the day, we can lament this changing philosophy all we want (and do), but of course, that's not going to revive all these browsers again. So what to do?
The good news is doing so is not too difficult. As a proof-of-concept, I went ahead and decided to tackle this, starting off with `globalThis`, which stackoverflow.com was complaining was undefined. As it turns out, `globalThis` was only added to Chromium in version 71. Naturally, I had to be using version 70, the last version to *not* support it. It was almost as if Google knew that one day I would need that, and decided to remove the other thing I needed before adding that. Seriously, I wouldn't put it past them that does tend to be the "Google way", doesn't it?
As they say, necessity is the mother of invention. I never intended to develop a Chrome extension, but alas, here it is: ChromeFill is a simple browser extension that is now available for Chromium browsers. Download and use it today: https://github.com/InterLinked1/chromefill/.
It won't be published in the Chrome Web Store — even if I wanted to, I can't, since Manifest V2 extensions are being deprecated this year, and Manifest V3 was only introduced with Chromium 88, so it's entirely useless for making an extension for targeting versions of Chromium significantly older than vesrion 88. This extension is open source, so that anyone can download it and use it in Chrome if desired. I suspect there are relatively few people that will benefit from it, but for anyone else sticking with Chromium 70, it's a little something to boost its compatability — at least for now. Now is a time of rapid change for the web, and I'd be foolish to say this will work forever, but for now, it's just enough to give Iron 70 the fighting chance it needs, maybe enough time for Pale Moon/New Moon to get polyfilled, so I can switch to that instead.
Log in to leave a comment!