Google's Graphic Novel: The Chrome Browser's Design Story

Posted by: Reena Jana on September 3, 2008

So Google just launched the beta version of its open-source Web browser, Chrome. The search behemoth also made available the back story of the browser’s design, available in a graphic-novel style narrative. Drawn by an artist named Scott McCloud (a leading comics expert and an early creator of online comic books) and written by the engineers who worked on Chrome, the curious document features entertaining sketches of the real-life Google team behind the new browser, replete with geeky glasses and untucked shirts, as well as cartoony images of sad browsers and insects to represent bugs in the software.

No surprises there, of course. But the document is a good example of how to make interface design and the process of writing software code seem alive to kids, tweens, and teens. Perhaps it’s a way to engage future programmers when they’re young. There’s so much talk on the need to beef up education in the States to keep innovation flowing. And educators are always searching for ways to make computer science come alive.

The Google graphic novel is a bit long — 31 pages to click through. And the format isn’t ideal; as I just mentioned, you have to click through it as if turning pages in a book, which somehow makes the experience a bit boring. Those criticisms aside, it’s an adventurous attempt at bringing the challenges of designing a new Web browser to the public in a way that’s (nearly) fun to read. I mean, it still is about buggy software, but the graphic novel concept is more effective than a group blog featuring only text.

Reader Comments

Jo

September 5, 2008 3:10 PM

Reena - I totally agree. It's too long! I took me and our CTO 1 day to get through this (besides our work, of course). But: great idea to have a comic, though - it the future of rapid media consumption. If its short.

Jo
Sell your content on Klatcher

Collagist

September 7, 2008 9:11 AM

The novel is pretty linear unlike any other web pages. My guess is that it was a deliberate attempt. Google clearly did not want to build TOC or index for the book. Also, they do not say how many pages the book (no page x of Y in the footer). They snuck in hardcore technical stuff before UI :)

No doubt that it is a great way to tell a story. Scott McCloud representation of the Google and the characters is excellent.

Collagist.com ~ do more with your pictures ~

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What comes next? The Bloomberg Businessweek Innovation and Design blog chronicles new tools for creativity and collaboration, innovation case studies in both the corporate and social sectors, and the new ideas that have the power to change the way things have always been done.

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