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Since the beginning of the Web era, the simple image tag has defined the use of nearly all static images. Google's new Chrome 38 beta browser will change that with the introduction of a new element known as "picture," which could usher in a new era of responsive design.
The basic idea behind the concept of responsive design is that a given web site will scale and render appropriately for a specific screen size, whether that screen is attached to a desktop PC or a smartphone.
"The element takes the concept of responsive design, previously solved by sending duplicate resources to the client, and bakes an elegant solution right into the web platform," Andreas Rossberg, Senior Symbolic Software Engineer at Google wrote. "It allows developers to list multiple versions of images that may be appropriate for the browser to display based on screen size, pixel density, or other factors." The pictureelement is not an independent creation of Google, but rather is part of an evolving W3C HTML 5.1 specification. The HTML 5.1 specification doesn't define picture as a subsititute for the image tag but rather as a superset element for image containers.
"The picture element is a container which provides multiples sources to its contained img element to allow authors to declaratively control or give hints to the user agent about which image resource to use, based on the screen pixel density, viewport size, image format, and other factors," the HTML 5.1 draft specification states.
The Chrome 38 beta is also noteworthy in that it is the first to provide a 64-bit build for Apple Mac OS X users. Previously the only way for a Mac user to get a 64-bit version was to run the Canary branch of Chrome. Linux users on Ubuntu, Debian, Fedora, Red Hat and OpenSuse already had beta channel support for 64-bit systems. Chrome is developed in multiple branches with Canary representing the least stable and usable branch with beta and stable channel releases providing features that can be used by everyday users.
Google 64-bit beta build of Chrome for Mac comes in the same week that 64-bit support landed in the Chrome 37 stable release for Windows.
Sean Michael Kerner is a senior editor at Datamation and InternetNews.com. Follow him on Twitter @TechJournalist
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