Chrome 14 Beta has Native Client

August 14, 2011

Google recently announced the release of a new beta version, 14.0.835.35, of the Chrome browser, for Linux, Windows, Mac OS X, and Chrome Frame.   Besides representing a new major version, the new beta release is notable for being the first to incorporate Google’s Native Client technology.  Essentially, Native Client is a set of software tools that allows the Chrome browser to run compiled C or C++ code, in the same way that it can run JavaScript.  The technology provides for a security “sandbox” in which the code runs, and has a set of APIs [application programming interfaces], called “Pepper”,  that allows connections between the compiled code and the capabilities of HTML 5.

The Native Client technology is likely to be most attractive to users that want to incorporate computation-intensive applications in the browser.  Some may have existing libraries of C or C++ routines for applications like video editing or statistical modeling, and may find that Native Client makes using them more straightforward.  Others may have performance issues with using JavaScript for some tasks, even though JavaScript performance has improved markedly in recent years for most browsers.

The official Google Chrome Blog has a short article discussing the new features in a bit more detail, and the Google Code site has a page with some  example Native Client applications.  The “Webmonkey” blog at Wired also has an article about the new technology.

You can get the Chrome 14 beta from the beta channel download page.

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