Chrome Frame Dev Channel and Testing Gotchas

So you’re making the new shiny — ’cause that’s how you roll — and you’re thinking to yourself “hrm, I’ve told users of legacy browsers to get Chrome Frame or upgrade, but there’s this new awesome feature in the Chrome Developer Channel…but it’s not in the version of Chrome Frame I’m testing with. I thought I was on the Dev channel?

Indeed, if you installed GCF prior to the Beta release, you would have been on the Dev version, but when the Beta was pushed, all existing GCF users were moved to it as a one-time transition. That means you might not be getting the new shiny features we’re pouring into Dev as quickly as you anticipated…but fear not! There’s a new Dev Channel Release available. If you’re developing sites with GCF and you want to see what’s coming, I highly recommend getting and testing against this version. You won’t be moved to Beta again, so this uninstall/reinstall is a one-time change.

As folks begin to use and test with GCF, one of the first many try is to use the OptInUrls registry key to over-ride a site’s preference about which renderer to use. This tends to cause confusion and spurious bug reports because many sites employ server-side User-Agent detection to send different content to different browsers. Since GCF uses IE’s network stack and reports a slightly modified IE User-Agent instead of Chrome’s UA, server-side detection may send IE-specialized content instead of Chrome-friendly content. This includes many large sites like Yahoo, GMail, and most sites built with GWT’s server-side detection.

These are not bugs.

Those sites are working as intended and GCF is operating correctly. What’s happening, instead, is that by adding sites to the OptInUrls list that do not understand GCF, you’re breaking the contract at the core of how GCF works: existing content works the way it always has. It’s only when you’re sure that a site is sending browser-neutral content (usually when it’s your site) that you should ever add a site to the OptInUrls list for your system or organization. As usual, if you’ve got questions about GCF that aren’t answered in the FAQs or docs, you can ask them on the Google Group for the project. The whole team is subscribed to the list and we’re focused on helping you make awesome apps, so stop by, say howdy, and let us know how it’s going.