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Google debuts JavaScript playground

'In your face, IE8'

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If you haven't been following the browser wars in the last few months, JavaScript engines are now the hot new thing to showboat ... unless, of course, you're Microsoft and have the kind of market share where you don't need to worry about what benchmarking nerds think.

But for Microsoft's loyal rivals, JavaScript engines are being trotted out in the latest browser builds with names straight out of American Gladiators - like Chrome's V8, Safari's Nitro, Firefox's TraceMonkey, and Opera's Futhark.

Google-made Chrome has been particularly vocal about how it slaps JavaScript up and down the aisles until it wishes it never had elements to render. The Mountain View engineers pin the eternally-beta Chrome as not just a browser, but a "vehicle for delivering web applications." Sounds like hot stuff indeed.

So it's really no surprise with IE8 being made available Thursday and Microsoft downplaying the significance of browser speed, that Google comes out with a new project just to show that fast JavaScript engines are the greatest thing ever to be created by Man.

From Google's new Chrome Experiments project:

We think JavaScript is awesome. We also think browsers are awesome. Indeed, when we talk about them, we say they are the cat's meow - which is an American expression meaning AWESOME.

In light of these deeply held beliefs, we created this site to showcase cool experiments for both JavaScript and web browsers.

The site presently includes 19 animated micro-games and widgets that are admittedly very cool. For example, one game called Browser Ball lets you load up separate browser windows, then "throw" a ball between them. Google Gravity makes the company's iconic search page shatter to the bottom of the screen, where each of the page's elements remain functional.

Demos at Chrome Tools are all tested with Chrome, of course - but most appear to work with the other major browsers as well. Your millage may vary.

It's all very slick and yes, perhaps even awesome. But Microsoft's argument with IE8 has been that raw script performance isn't really the main concern for your average web surfer. Mind, this position is almost guaranteed to change as soon as IE catches up.

But Microsoft's speed in updating its browser has historically been rather glacial - and by the time it has pulled out a new JavaScript engine it's likely the other folks will have moved on touting something else as the hot new thing. ®

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But I'm sure they'd appreciate name suggestions in line with what we've already seen. I like Internet Explorer's "Man-dozer."

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