Google Chrome browser is our favorite browser. Keeping aside its simplicity and efficiency, Google chrome is much more powerful than its rivals. We often find a few hidden features through our friends or the internet and they always surprise us. They amaze us with their ability to perform complex tasks within minutes like Google Chrome Developer Tools that helps a tester in performing some of the tedious tasks with just a few clicks automatically. Google Flags is also one such hidden feature that makes Chrome more powerful than ever. Ever heard of it? Me neither. I came to know about these furious features after using Chrome for about six years. Google flag is a silent feature that keeps itself shy from the world and performs amazing tasks that are not yet available for the whole world. Confused? Well, no worries! This post will introduce you to this beautiful feature and demonstrate why it is often called “experimental” and is a hitch for cross-browser testing.
What Are Chrome Flags?
Google Chrome Flags are a collection of multiple features that cannot be used with the stable release and are required to enable them explicitly. They are experimental features built inside the Google Chrome browser. So, you do not need to install them explicitly but they are a part of the complete setup. Google Chrome Flags are “experimental” since they have not been embedded into the stable chrome versions as part of the user experience.
Google Chrome experimental flags are either in the testing phase, development phase or are for developer use only as part of the developer tools. Even though there is no restriction for anyone to use chrome experimental flags, it is recommended not to use them without understanding their feature. Since they are unstable features, you can expect unexpected behavior by chrome and can mess with your browsing experience. Google Chrome also warns us about the consequences when we open the Google Chrome Flags page.
Another note to keep in mind while using the Google Chrome experimental flags is that they are often not tested for security in the browser. So if you have enabled the flag and see some suspicious activity, you know who the culprit is.
Making a note in mind of these loopholes that chrome flags offer, they provide great advantages on the other side.
Power Customizations: Enabling the flags in Google Chrome will give you some powerful customizations in the overall chrome experience (such as grouping the tabs) and enhance the existing features too.
Useful For Developer Testing: Since google chrome contains some flags that are specific to the developers such as GPU acceleration and other hardware-related features, they give an open field for the developer to test on different parameters.
Easy To Use: Google Chrome Flags are not very technical (except for a very few). They can be easily used by anyone just by reading the description of the flags in the Google Chrome Flags page.
The experimental flags in Google Chrome can make you feel more powerful and maybe show off with your peers by using different customizations ;), but do not get used to these flags. Since they are experimental, they might disappear with the next update.
How To View Google Chrome Flags?
Viewing and enabling the Google Chrome Flags is quite easy. If you do not have Google Chrome installed on your system, like me, or you don’t want to risk your chrome, you can just use an online cross-browser testing platform to open the browser. I will be using LambdaTest here.
To open, Google Chrome experimental flags, type the following in your address bar:
This will open up the experimental flags in the chrome browser. From here you can view the complete list and enable/ disable the flags according to your need. Remember that the third option of default is also available with the flags. The value of default can be “enabled” or “disabled” but there is no way to know. So, you can use one of the two options to check the default status.
Cross-Browser Compatibility Issues In Chrome Flags
Google chrome experimental flags help us view some of the web properties that are otherwise not rendered properly in Google Chrome but works in other browsers. In this post, we will demonstrate one such property (a pseudo-class as to say), called the focus: visible class.
This class is yet to be implemented for everyone in Google Chrome:
For developers and curious learners, Google chrome provides this feature as a part of a Google Chrome flag called “Experimental Web Property”. But, since it is not yet implemented as a part of the package, this flag is disabled by default.
To enable the flag, visit chrome://flags in your Google Chrome browser.
In the search box, type the “Experimental Web Property” to access the flag faster and enable the flag.
Relaunch the browser to enable this flag and activate the properties associated with it.
Focus: Visible class helps in providing CSS to an element that gets activated only through focus (keyboard/Mouse). If the focus: visible is associated with a button element, the CSS will be visible only after focussing on the button i.e. clicking the button.
Let’s view this property that was first not supported by the browser but with the flag being enabled, would work fine.
outline: 4px dashed darkorange;
<button class=”focus-visible-only”>Enter Name:</button>
And the orange borderline is visible as soon as we focus on the input field.
Should I Incorporate Chrome Flag Properties In My Website?
A common thought that can pop up in your mind would be that if these features are experimental that means they will be incorporated anytime later in the future. Thinking that would help your website and incorporating those features beforehand can be proved to be a mistake. A chrome flag is called “experimental” for a reason. Experimental things can go either way depending on the response of the developers, the stability of the flag, and many more. So, it is highly recommended not to use any experimental flags on your website until the flag has been pushed in the stable releases of Google Chrome and is available for everyone by default. This will help you dodge the cross-browser compatibility issues. But, if you are a developer and a curious person, you can play with these flags (with caution) and enhance your browsing experience. As a precautionary option, to save your data and browser from acting strangely, you can also download the Google Chrome Beta browser that contains all the Beta features and you can mess around with it without worrying about data loss. Hope you got a good grip over these flags and play with them too. Since I do not know many of them, maybe you can help me comment on your favorite flag and what does it do. I will surely experiment with them.