Want a faster-than-Google Chrome Web browser? Try the nightly WebKit builds


Are you a Mac user with Google Chrome envy? You really shouldn’t be, especially now that the latest builds of WebKit use a ridiculously fast Javascript engine called SquirrelFish Extreme. The new engine, conveniently shortened to SFE, is actually faster than Chrome Javascript engine, V8. (It’s actually faster than the version of V8 currently floating around SVN, which is faster than the version that’s found in Chrome.)

Faster, more efficient Javascript processing improves the performance of Javascript-heavy Web sites like Gmail. In fact, name me one site that doesn’t use a lot of Javascript these days. (Drudge is the only example I can think of.)

For the uninitiated, these nightly builds of WebKit represent the bleeding edge in WebKit development. WebKit is the name of the rendering engine found in Safari and Google Chrome. By downloading a nightly build, your local version of Safari launches using the latest version WebKit. It’s sort of like driving your car to work with a brand new engine every day. Builds are available for both Mac and Windows, but I figured Windows folks wouldn’t be as excited.

No, these nightly builds of WebKit don’t have that fancy multi-process architecture the Google Chrome has, but the improved Javascript performance is more than worth quick download.

She’s quite fast. Promise.