545: Arc Browser with Nate Parrott

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Nate Parrott from The Browser Company of New York stops by to talk about Arc - including the history of Arc, how boosts work, building out dev features, how they deciding on what features to build, and feedback from Dave and Chris on Arc.



Nate Parrott

Web · Social

Developer, designer, and
gamification enthusiast. Working on Arc at The Browser Company.

Time Jump Links

  • 00:49 Guest introduction
  • 02:28 Getting Arc invites
  • 05:06 Arc is built on Chromium
  • 08:19 What you see when you open Arc
  • 13:48 Opinionated software choices
  • 16:39 Arc's Boosts
  • 24:59 Who is the audience for Arc browser?
  • 27:22 Syncing on Arc
  • 29:41 Arc's release notes
  • 30:13 Sponsor: Sanity
  • 31:58 Does Arc funnel down to one window?
  • 42:49 Developer mode
  • 48:09 What is Arc written in?
  • 53:39 What's the business plan for Arc?
  • 55:09 Muscle memory from other browsers


[Banjo music]

MANTRA: Just Build Websites!

Dave Rupert: Hey there, Shop-o-maniacs. You're listening to another episode of the ShopTalk Show, a podcast all about websites. I'm Dave Rupert and with me is Chris Coyier. Hey, Chris. How are you?

Chris Coyier: [Laughter] Oh, it's a lovely morning. Just admiring the busier curves of the Internet.

Dave: Some curves. Some fades. Some transitions. Oh, wonderful.

Chris: Yeah. Yeah. Yeah.

This is going to be a really wonderful show. Dave, we've both been using a different Web browser, and it's been an enjoyable experience for me in kind of a surprising way. We just so happen to have Nate here from The Browser Company of New York, which I kind of snarkily made fun of last week. Sorry about that, buddy. [Laughter]

But the browser is just tremendous. I've really been enjoying using it. Thank you for coming on the show. How are you, Nate?


Nate Parrott: I am great, and hopefully, I can convince you that we are not nearly as cool as our pretentious name makes it sound.

Chris: [Laughter] It sounds like you make gold chains and cologne.

Nate: [Laughter] It's....

Dave: The Browser Company of New York implies the existence of browser companies of other places, like Texas.

Chris: Hmm...

Nate: It does. We have a browser company in Austin. We have my favorite, a BCBC, Browser Company of British Columbia. We have a couple of folks out there.

Dave: Oh, BCBC.

Nate: But The Browser Company of New York name predates the pandemic, and we thought it was going to be all in-person. Then you know what happened, and sort of a silver lining of the pandemic was that we realized, "Hey, we could be a remote company," and so we have all these incredible team members all over the world, and we are no longer in New York.

Chris: Oh, right on. [Laughter]

Dave: Delaware. You've moved to Delaware.

Nate: I'm in New York. [Laughter] I mean 50% chance for a Delaware-incorporated company, so I don't know what I can say about that.

Chris: Yeah. CodePen is 90% sure. Good taxes. Something like that. I have no idea how that all goes down.

Nate: It got a Court of Chancery, which I don't know what that means, but I just love the idea.

Chris: I'm sure it's beneficial to all the chancellors.

Nate: [Laughter]

Chris: Okay. Wonderful. What The Browser Company of New York makes is a browser called Arc, A-R-C. It's not particularly difficult to get access to it. Although, I don't know that you can just go to a webpage and download it. Right? There's a little bit of got to be invited kind of thing.

Feel free to reach out to us. I'm sure I have... It's like you get five invites a day or something. They're not particularly rare, right?


Nate: Five invites a week, I believe.

Chris: A week. Yeah.

Nate: I've got some. We've all got some.

Chris: Yeah.

Nate: But if you join the waitlist, it's usually... I don't want to make any promises, but I think it's about two or three weeks. Then you're off.

Chris: Okay. Sure. Sure.

Dave: For me, it was really quick, if I recall, because in the last episode, I found out my browser had rounded corners on the URL bar and I quit that browser.

Chris: [Laughter] Nice.

Dave: Almost instantly.

Nate: [Laughter]

Dave: And I was able to get up and going on Arc in a day, I think. Yeah.

Chris: Dave-- aesthetics matters--Rupert. [Laughter] Fantastic. Yeah. I think I just got a link in Discord or something.

What do they call that? Network effects, it's working for you.

Nate: Exactly.

Chris: Working its.... It's the new Dribbble.

Nate: Dave, which corners do we have to make sure not to round?

Dave: Just... Well, the URL bar, the omni bar. So far so good. So far so good.

Nate: We have big plans for the URL bar.

Dave: Oh, exciting.

Nate: Just kidding. My personal crusade at The Browser Company is to make the URL bar as small as possible.

Chris: Hm...

Nate: I wouldn't say it's a popular opinion within the company, but it feels correct to me. The URL bar is very big in a lot of browsers, very big in Chrome. Obviously, it's very big in Chrome because it's a Google search box, and that's what you want you to do.


Chris: Yeah! There as an article with, who was it, Darin, I think, who works with you.

Nate: Darin.

Chris: Who was maybe ex-Google or something who had some spicy insights in a Verge article who was saying that there was a lot of cool UX ideas at Chrome too. Surely, they have lots of smart people there. And I think he said something like they died on the cutting room floor because if you build a feature that gets somebody back to an open tab, well then they didn't search. They didn't perform a search.

Google has this incentive to have people be performing searches right and left. We've almost been taught that, "I don't know. Just Google it." Maybe that's because browsers are helping us do that. There are certainly some features of Arc that rethink that a little bit.

I feel like we're jumping ahead, thought. There is this browser that exists. It's not like you built a new Chrome. It's still Chrome or Chromium. Is that correct?

Nate: Yes.

Chris: Yeah.

Nate: It is.

Chris: That was relatively important to me because, as much as I'm happy to be critical of Google and Chrome on some things, I do like Chrome. I do think their dev tools are very good. I think if this thing was... I don't know. If you were trying to rebuild a browser engine, that's a very different conversation we'd be having. That's not a thing.

Arc is a UX/UI wrapper, let's say, around Chromium. Is that fair?


Nate: Yeah. I would say our thesis is that if Chrome has... Chrome came out 15, 14 years ago at this point.

Chris: Mm-hmm.

Nate: Their whole thing was, "We think that we can make the desktop browser into the place where you can write desktop-class apps." Google sort of understood that before anyone else, and they did a fantastic job at it. They made the Web platform very performant. They gave it a ton of capabilities.

Chris: Mm-hmm.

Nate: They made it very consistent and open and standards compliant and a bunch of great things. And so, they wildly succeeded. It's now even the native apps that you download on your computer are really just wrappers around Chromium.

But the problem there is we think that what ended up happening was that they were so successful in that that they got to a new problem, which is that the UI of the browser started to buckle under the fact that you're doing all these things in it. Right?

In the past, maybe you had a couple of tabs and Web browsing was one of several apps you were using. But now, for a lot of us, it's like the Web browser is the primary tool that you're using all day long.

Chris: Mm-hmm.

Nate: All of your applications are within it, and so it's almost like an OS, and it's not a very good OS - we think. We think there's a lot of opportunity to give you some of the tools that an OS would give you, like great multitasking, great organization, the ability to have your tabs treated like real important data, which they are, and which a lot of browsers don't really think of them as.

Chris: Okay. Okay. So, there's this OS of the Web kind of thesis happening over there.

Nate: Yeah. A thing that I like to say a lot is we think of tabs as the new files. There was this great piece in the Verge (maybe about a year and a half ago at this point) talking about how folks, college professors, were noticing that their students were coming into school and they didn't really understand files and directories and folders and stuff like that. They were so used to using the browser and using search that this whole era, this whole construct of files in a desktop and manipulating them was pretty unfamiliar to them.

Chris: Hmm...

Nate: I think it just goes to show that tabs are the atomic unit of work now, not files. But something as simple as renaming or putting something in a folder, you can't do that with a tab today. And so, some of the features that are our favorites that we've built are just like let's let you rename a tab just like you could rename a file. Let's let you have a folder full of tabs that doesn't go away when you close the browser. Simple stuff like that; that just treats it like real data and elevates it.


Chris: Yeah. A lot of work on tabs. Let's take a second to mouth-blog a little bit about what you see when you open Arc because I'm sure there's a lot... You can go pretty deep in here. We're going to get to Boosts. You're kind of the man behind Boosts, and that will be interesting. So, stay tuned for that, people.

But there are probably some people who download Arc, and they're like, "Oh, my tabs are on the left now," and that's their whole experience - possibly. It's not everybody who cares about Web browsers as deeply as we all do, I'm sure.

Nate: Mm-hmm. Mm-hmm.

Chris: And even that can be a refreshing experience, perhaps. But the sidebar is crucial to the Arc experience. In a way, it moves... A lot of browsers, they packed a lot of crap at the top. Arc is like, "Let's go. Let's turn it." [Laughter] "Let's put it on the left," which in a way gives you more room. It's like more pixel area to use.

But hey, screens are landscape. You almost have more room horizontally. And there's just been a proliferation, I find, in apps that do it too. That the main navigation for a lot of Web apps is let's give you a left sidebar.

I think it's just interesting to look at. You think of - I don't know - Spotify and the famous app CodePen. Maybe you've heard of it. [Laughter] Feedbin and all these things. It's common to see that left thing.

I think almost websites look cool in Arc because it almost looks like the website itself is just one menu deeper than your entire Internet experience. I just think it's a cool look.

But anyway, on the left is all your tabs, essentially. But it's not just tabs. You get the URL bar at the top -- in your personal crusade, apparently, to keep the URL bar as small as possible. Weirdly, not controversial.

I remember when Safari put out there that they're going to stop showing, by default, the complete URL. And nerds were displeased at this. Arc is doing just that.

You can see the whole URL. You just click into it, and you see the whole URL. So, it's not like it's completely disguised from you, but that was true in Safari too. The trick is that you don't really quite see the full URL at all times.

You can't in Arc. It's just too narrow over there. There's no place for it.

If you're a developer and that really makes you mad, it looks like just this week you released a developer mode which you click on and then you kind of get that full URL bar back, and that's understandable for a developer's concern about where they are in their own application and stuff. Nice feature. We can dig into that a little bit.

But just to continue on the UI a little bit, you can collapse that sidebar too, so if you have quite a small screen, I guess that's okay. And it's just command-S. [Laughter] It's a nice one.

Then you have these three categories of tabs. There's pinned tabs, which that's gotten popular in the last year or two, I'd say, which is these tabs are just here all the time.

Then the idea of these temporary tabs. I think a famous feature of Arc, as far as I know. People just love the idea that it will close your tabs for you should they go stale after a certain amount of time. I've got to admit it doesn't appeal to me. I'm a little OCD about my tab controls, but a lot of people are like, "Fricken' love that."

Then there's almost like super-pinned tabs at the top that are there all the time. Meaning that they're there even when you swipe spaces. There's this concept in Arc where you move between a set of tabs, so it could be like home and work or work, social, and YouTube. I don't know. You get to decide. Do whatever you'd like with your spaces. They can even look visually a bit different. Change some colors and such.

There's more to it, but that's what we're working with here. You've got to kind of adjust your brain to be like, "This is my browser now. A lot of the action and interacting with my browser happens over there on the left." Is that bout right?


Nate: Yeah. You pretty much got it. We put everything on the left in a sidebar. We are pretty adamant about not putting anything above and below the webpage. And the sidebar gives you more room for your tabs, which is nice. But we also think it's really important to just give you tools to organize.

When I first joined, it's a funny story, actually. I didn't know any of the people who were starting The Browser Company. I joined as the first designer. When I first met Josh, the CEO, I was talking to him. I was like, "Hey, Josh. I heard you guys are working on a browser. That's very exciting. I've been making a browser."

Josh turns to me, and he's like, "Oh, what does your browser do?"

I said, "Oh, it has a sidebar."

He's like, "What side is your sidebar on?"

I was like, "Well, it's on the left. Duh!"

He's like, "Well, ours is on the right because we've thought about this a lot, and we've realized that Web apps put their sidebar on the left, and so if you want to balance it out, you put your sidebar on the right."

I was like, "Huh... Seems like these folks have thought about it a lot. Maybe I should consider working here, and I could think about this all day long."

Turns out they were wrong. I was right. We tried a prototype with the sidebar on the right. The problem is you spend so much time dragging your mouse over the vast expanse of emptiness between the left navigation and all the buttons on the left and the sidebar on the right. It totally doesn't work.

Chris: Isn't that one of those fancy UI laws? Was it Fitz?

Nate: Fitz law, I believe.

Chris: Fitz, yeah. Yeah.

Nate: Maybe, maybe not, but it's something about you don't really think that you spend a lot of time with your mouse traveling places, but you really do (if we screw it up and we force you to do it a little too much).

Chris: Right. Okay. Left side it is. I also agree. That is the correct side for this.

Also a strong opinion. There are lots of things you can change in Arc, but not that. Right? I think that's important for software to have some opinions about things.

I like it. I even liken it, some of the aspects of Arc, a little bit to Notion. It's just an app I happen to use a whole bunch. There are certain aesthetic things you can do in Notion. You can set icons for all your documents. You can set a header. You can make the text. But you can't just change it to any font like you could in a Google doc because then everybody is going to put it in Papyrus or whatever, and nobody will be able to read it.

You just can't do that in Notion. There are pretty serious guardrails about what you can do aesthetically in there. Arc has some of that going on too. You can't pick a bad color for the sidebar. It reins that in. I like those aesthetic guardrails to things that are pretty interesting.


Nate: Yeah. That was a fun project, and we spent a lot of time going back and forth on what is the appropriate level of customization. There's sort of a sweet spot in the middle there because you want people to feel like it's not daunting. It's not hard to create something that looks good. But you also don't want to feel like you're reined in and you're on a Disneyland ride and can't get off the track.

Chris: Yeah. Yeah.

Dave: Mm-hmm. Yeah.

Nate: And so, it took a lot of figuring out what the right set of constraints there was. I think we landed in a decent place.

Chris: I'm sure it'll evolve quite a bit. There are some heavy oddities to me. It looks like you have a color picker, but you can't see what color you're picking.

Nate: [Laughter] Yes.

Chris: You just drag it around on this morphos space and hope to find something you like. It's pretty weird.

Nate: It is weird.


Nate: The idea behind that is that you shouldn't preview the color in the color picker. You should preview what the color looks like on your browser. You have to try it on.

Chris: I see. I see.

Nate: And so, you should just sort of hunt around until you find something that looks good. Is that the right decision? I'm not sure, but that's the thinking behind it.

Dave: It's kind of like a teenage engineering synthesizer for color picking.

Chris: Oh, my God. Yeah.

Dave: It's good. It's very cool.

Nate: [Laughter] That I believe was the inspiration. I was not the designer on this. It was a designer on our team named Dustin. And I believe that was the inspiration. It was either that or something in Garage Band. It was definitely a music....

Dave: Yeah.

Chris: Hm...

Dave: No, it feels like a music app. It's cool.

Chris: There were just some moments where, like, "Do you want black? Too bad."

Nate: Too bad.

Chris: That is not available.

Nate: Now you can have it. As of very recently, there is a black preset.

Chris: Oh, good.

Nate: You can have it as dark as you want, as light as you want.

Dave: I'm so basic. I just went grayish, but whatever. [Laughter]

Chris: Yeah, I know because, at first, I'm like, purple. Then I'm like, "I'm sick of purple." Then it's, "Now it's orange." Now it's light green. I'm like, "Okay, I need to stop playing with this." [Laughter]

Nate: A good problem to have.

Dave: I mean way too much time. Yeah.


Chris: Big, big problems. All right, that's cool. We have plenty of time, but we have the Boost guy on, so maybe we'll talk about that.

In that sidebar, way down at the bottom, there are a couple of things. There's a library thing. I don't know if we'll get to that, but there's a plus button that puts a bunch of functionality within it. That's where you can make a new space if you want to, make a new folder for your bookmarks or whatever.

There's one in there with a little boom burst on it that says, "New boosts." I don't know how you'd know what it is unless you just click it and try it. It brings up a little thing, and it says, "Boost your favorite websites with Arc."

Because this is a show that's exclusively for Web designers and developers, correct me if I'm wrong, but it's pretty much just user CSS and user JavaScript. That's what you're able to do with a boost.

Nate: Yes.

Chris: Yeah. Cool. And you built it, so that's fascinating to me. I will tee it up by saying I found it fascinating. I've been thinking about user CSS more specifically than user JavaScript more lately because, in the world of CSS, there's a new feature called cascade layers. It's weirdly in all browsers. It's something people could start taking advantage of. Really mind-bending stuff about what CSS is going to apply at what kind of level. Specificity be damned, essentially. [Laughter]

Really strange. We probably don't have time to talk about that, but you'll see (if you read about it) lots of triangles and inverted triangles of what CSS is already in a layer that you might already think about. There are user agent styles, and then there's just the CSS that users write and apply to it. Those are two different layers.

Another layer is user CSS. Every time I saw one of those triangles, I'm like, "Sure. Yeah. User CSS. A thing that literally no browser supports anymore, so why are we even talking about it? There's no way in Chrome, Firefox, or Safari to put user CSS anymore."

There's little stuff like I'd prefer my font size to be 110% of what it was before. An important accessibility feature, of course. But there isn't a place to just write some CSS and have it apply. Those days are just gone.

Part of me is like, "Ack... Maybe it was an underused feature. Certainly, injecting JavaScript is possibly dangerous for the Internet." I'm going to take the possibly off there. That's dangerous for the Internet.

But okay, so I don't know. If you really love that idea, let's say you just hate that CodePen has a dark background, you can find some way to inject CSS (via a browser extension or something) to change that background color to something that you like. I love that about the Web.

Dave, you've recently wrote about the hackability of the open Web and how important that is. But the tooling for it isn't that great. I'd say you all did a really terrific job with it in Arc partially because -- two big reasons. One of them, there's fricken' syntax highlighted beautiful code editor baked into the browser, so... What?! [Laughter] And the way that it does it, I believe, is by making a browser extension in which to do the injection of the scripts, which is also very clever. Maybe you could tell me what I got right and wrong and talk about that some more.


Nate: Yeah, you got it all right. User CSS is back - I like to think.

Chris: [Laughter]

Nate: It's funny. First of all, the one thing you got wrong is that I built very little of it myself. I had the privilege of designing it and working with another contractor who was also doing the design named Julius, Julius Tarng, and he is the driving force behind it.

He came to us with this idea, and he was like, "I want to make it really, really easy to make Chrome extensions." I remember being very, very skeptical of this because I think of myself as - I don't know - I like making dumb stuff on the computer. I feel like I'm the target demographic for making a Chrome extension. I've done it once in my life, and I don't really have that many ideas for it.

And so, I was like, "Who is going to do this?" And furthermore, it's only going to work if you know how to code, and not all of our users know how to code. Not all of our users understand the DOM and CSS and JavaScript.

And so, I was like, "Of all the things we can work on, I'm not really sure this is it." And we basically were just like, "Let's take a leap of faith and try it." It's something we try to do a lot at The Browser Company where we don't really think you could just think really hard and design a good browser. We believe in experimenting and prototyping and just feeling stuff and seeing how it....

Chris: Oh, listen to that, Dave. It turns out prototyping--

Dave: I have more questions.

Nate: Prototyping.


Dave: Go ahead.

Chris: Dave lots prototyping. Yeah. Go on.

Nate: I love prototyping. I would love to talk about it. But yeah, so I was very skeptical. I was like, "Okay, fine. Let's try it."

We built it out. We found an off-the-shelf code editor in JavaScript. The secret is the Boost editor is written in JavaScript.

Chris: Which one is it? Is it...?

Nate: I wish I could tell you.

Chris: Okay. No, that's all right.

Dave: Monaco.

Nate: I think it's Monaco. I think that's it.

Chris: Hm...

Nate: Pretty much just stock, and we just sort of built in the hooks where it could create a Chrome extension and write it to disk as you type. Reload the page as you type. And we included a couple of templates.

Julius was very passionate about the idea of educating people about CSS and JavaScript, and so there are docs built in, and there are some informative examples where you can sort of fill in the templates.

Chris: Yeah. Yeah, it's clever. I don't blame you for the approach because one way you could have designed it is just to say, "Append CSS to page. Append JS to page." And that's not how it guides you anyway, even though that's kind of what it's doing.

Nate: Yeah.

Chris: There's a template for replacing content on the Web, which brings up the kind of cloud-as-butt plugin and all that stuff.


Nate: Julius is the creator of the cloud-to-butt plugin.

Chris: Oh, wow. That's incredible.

Dave: Wow. Wow!

Nate: This was the inspiration for that template.

Dave: Wow!

Nate: I believe, initially, the default template for JavaScript code was web3-to-butt.

Dave: Okay.

Chris: [Laughter]

Nate: I think someone on the team was like, "Maybe we pick something that's a little less in the discourse."

Chris: I really wish you picked Web3. That would have been way better.

Nate: It was shipped for a while.

Chris: [Laughter]

Nate: And I did have it installed for a very long time. The other one I used was, for a while on our team, we were doing a little, like, Thursday was bug day. On Thursday, you're supposed to fix bugs, and so I was like, "How do I remember this?" And so, I wrote a little Boost that replaced Thursday with bug day, which was all great. It's still in there.

I realized I should probably turn off when I was reading the Times.

Chris: Demoing?


Nate: [Laughter] No, no. I was reading the Queen died early bug day morning.

Chris: Oh...

Nate: And I was like, this is probably [laughter]...

Chris: Yeah, that's a little weird.

Nate: This is the danger of injecting JavaScript into the Web.


Chris: That brings up an interesting feature, though, that every time you make a boost, you have two choices. It's either applied to one particular URL or at least top-level URL, or all websites.

Nate: Yeah.

Chris: Interesting.

Nate: We see that most people boost a particular site.

Chris: I would think so, yeah.

Nate: They'll have ... with Twitter.

Chris: Yeah.

Nate: They'll want to hide the trending sidebar. They'll want to hide the verified badges.

Chris: Right.

Nate: And so, they'll do that. Or they'll want to--

Chris: Yeah.

Nate: One of my favorites is we did one that was just take a GitHub and made it look like Windows 98. That was a lot of fun. Not particularly useful, but just feels like this is the modern-day version of Tumbler feeds is what we aspired to.

Chris: Yeah. Hack it. Yo, that's awesome.

Nate: Yeah, it's fun.

Chris: Very fun. Yeah. It would be relatively easy for people to share these, I suspect.

Nate: Well, we're going to get into that. We have to figure out how to make boost sharing something that doesn't become a vector for abuse.

Chris: Secure. Yeah.

Nate: Yeah.

Chris: That's the first thing that pops into my mind is that because this exists, a bad person out there could be like, "They might warn you about this, but take this piece of JavaScript and put it in a boost, and we're going to send you 50 penguin bucks."

Dave: Five iPads. Yeah.

Chris: Yeah.


Chris: The argument against it, to me, is that this browser, so far, is power user forward in that you probably have a bunch of smart people using your browser, which is kind of a cool place to be. That might not be your ultimate target forever, but I don't know. I'm sure you'd love as many people use this browser as possible. and the more they do, the more dangerous this gets, so good luck. [Laughter]


Nate: Yes. Yes. Well, hopefully--

I think the one thing that Julius was very passionate about and is very passionate about is this idea of using it to expose how the Internet works to people. Like I remember when we were thinking about doing the project originally, I was like, "Why don't we do a no-code thing where we leave a menu, and you can tweak the font and tweak the color elements and pick things out?"

We could have done that. But he made this very compelling argument that occasionally a product comes along that really shows, introduces normal people to what the Web is made of. For a lot of people, that was Tumbler themes. For a lot of people, that was Myspace themes or Neo Pets homepages. I'm probably getting this wrong, but there are a lot of people he talked to, and they were like, "Yeah, I learned JavaScript and CSS because I wanted to make a Neo Pets homepage.

Chris: Yeah, right.

Nate: And so, he was like, "These are very popular, and these are important, and it's important to give normal people a window into this world, and he knew people would get service by doing it." And so, we didn't really think of it as a bad thing you're exposing people to CSS and JavaScript. We just have to make sure that we do the work of educating people about how to use it safely and what the implications are of running code that you don't trust.

Dave: You know it's funny. My son is almost - not quite to that point, but I think he would love that. I've taught him a little bit of code, and just the idea, like, "Hey, you can mess up any website you want. Put butts on any page you want."

Nate: [Laughter]

Chris: Yeah.

Dave: That melts a ten-year-old's brain. You know?

Chris: [Laughter] Yeah. In a satisfying way that's not just a one-off. It persists.

Nate: Yeah. We're so used to not being able to have any effect on the software we use unless you're making an app totally from scratch. I think that people get really excited when they see, "No, I can actually put Twitter in Comic Sans if I want to."

Chris: Yeah. Mm-hmm.

Nate: I can make YouTube blurry and brightly saturated and play RickRoll every video.

Chris: Particularly difficult on mobile.

Nate: Yes.

Chris: Which brings me up to this next interesting point. Not just the mobile question, although that's fascinating as well. But the idea of sync, so to use Arc at all, you have an Arc account. No big surprise there. Not true of all browsers, but you're a startup, and startups need email addresses and whatever.

But you get something for it. It's not just like, "We want to do marketing at you." The point of having the account is that you have to be logged into it on all Arc instances you have. A lot of people just have one computer, so irrelevant to them. I happen to have three, essentially.

I'm here in the booth right now on my booth computer using Arc. I have a laptop that I travel around with. And this year, I decided to go with a desktop machine at work, which was a weird, bold choice. But that's three right there. I know I'm not normal in that regard.

But I appreciate the fact that if I want to use Arc, it syncs all my tabs all the time. I go from one computer to another computer, and my Arc setup is identical to the one over there. That's pretty cool to me.

I think there are some other things it syncs to. Maybe it is just tabs and spaces. I don't know. I know that it doesn't sync your boosts, unfortunately. Yeah.


Nate: It does not. It syncs tabs and spaces. In the works is syncing your history. So, if you've viewed a website on one computer, you can then search it and it will come up in the command bar when you search another computer.

Chris: Yep. I would love that. I've used the little help bar to submit many of these support requests, so I'm using the right channels, I hope.

Nate: Yes.

Dave: Please to implement.

Chris: Yeah. [Laughter]


Nate: Please implement. Please implement syncing everything for us, please. And we will. We will. Baby steps.

Chris: Yeah, you can see it evolve fairly quickly. In a sense, it's kind of fun to use because it's cool to be on the ground floor of software that's evolving quickly. I mean that's always kind of fun. Eventually, it gets old. [Laughter] It's harder to change features and stuff, and that will slow down.

But it doesn't feel particularly slow just yet. You have a bug day, but you must have a release day, too, because it looks like when you get the release notes for Arc, it says, "Every Thursday, we kick some stuff out."

Nate: Yes. We release every bug day.

Dave: Every bug day.

Chris: Oh, okay. Yeah. Wonderful. The release notes are just tremendous. Somebody decided to kick those up to 11 at Arc. They show you the new features. They're just incredibly well-designed. It's not bullet points in an update. There are images with it. It explains it in real English.

Then you accompany it with some tips and tricks and stuff. You give credit to the team. Each one of the tips and features and stuff gives credit to who built it. Really kind of a classy approach to the release notes, so good job on that.

Nate: Good to hear.


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Dave: What I'm finding about Arc, and maybe this is... I think I want to ask, is this intentional or not? I find myself only using one window where that's rare. I'm mister 5 windows, 27 tabs on each one. But Arc has kind of funneled me (my attention, I guess) into I just kind of use the one window. Maybe it's through the picture-in-picture feature, which is really great. It automatically chunks my YouTube up (or any HTML5 video up) into a picture-in-picture. Maybe it's the super pin tabs - or whatever - or the spaces. I just feel like Arc is pushing me to a place where I'm only trying to do one thing at a time. Is that kind of intentional in the design?

Chris: Yeah. Ditto. Ditto.

Dave: Or is that like, "Hey, that worked out fine." Or do you not care about that at all?

Nate: Yeah. I would say it's certainly intentional that most of the way we expect people to use Arc is with a single window. We do support multiple windows, and we have some folks on the team who use them. But really what we hear from people is mostly they just want to stay in their browser, and they want to be able to get everything done in the browser.

A lot of the features we have, like split view or the picture-in-picture view you mentioned, or our little mini audio player that lets you control Spotify (if you're listening to Spotify in another tab). All of that is designed from the assumption that you're probably using Arc in a single window.

Then it is sort of like your OS. I know all of us have a couple of apps we use that are not in the browser, but the primary assumption is this is generally the system that you're going to be using.

We even have our own version of command-tab, which is a control-tab, which lets you quickly shuffle between your most recent tabs.

Chris: Control-tab? Really? Hmm... That's cool.

Nate: Yeah. It's a very undiscoverable feature.

Dave: Huh? [Laughter]

Chris: Oh, wow!

Nate: But it's indispensable for me.

Chris: Oh, wow!

Dave: Oh, my goodness!

Chris: I have not seen this. Wow! Okay. Well, that's a good one to know.

Dave: That changed my life.

Chris: Yeah. [Laughter]

Dave: Changing lives here on the ShopTalk Show.


Chris: Let me dig into this for a minute.

Dave: [Laughter]

Chris: Dave and I apparently have some muscle memory for command-N. I like 900 things about Arc, but I've got to do the criticism thing on the new window thing. It really is not a great multiple window app because now, all of a sudden, you have two copies of your whole primary workspace and you can change state in one of them and kind of lose track and get back to the other one that has not... You know you're half way writing a blog post. The other tab has no idea that you've done that. It's like, blah, not my favorite.

Dave: I've hung up on a few Google Meet calls. [Laughter]

Chris: Yeah.

Dave: that.

Chris: But I understand that you have to have a new window.

Nate: Yes.

Chris: There needs to be some way to have multiple windows. It almost feels to me like either you should be opinionated and say command-N opens a new little Arc window because that's the real answer.

Nate: Uh-huh.

Chris: Because that's the real answer because the little Arc is just a tremendous feature. It's like you click a link in Slack or Discord or something, or literally any other app, and it starts, by default, in little Arc. You can turn that off. I'm sure some people hate it.

Nate: Mm-hmm.

Chris: But I have forced myself to like it. It gives you this... It doesn't have to be smaller, but I think the point is maybe attentionally to try to keep it a little smaller.

Nate: Yeah.

Chris: The chances are, I just want to look at something on that page real quick and then close it. You can promote it to a real tab in your browser, but embracing that little Arc concept is nice. I have a feeling that when somebody goes to go command-N, what they want is a temporary browsing experience just to do something quick and then get it away. It's unfortunate that you don't have muscle memory for it because to get a little Arc window is command-option-N.


Nate: Yes. I have remapped command-N to loop in little Arc.

Chris: To little Arc? Oh, nice.

Nate: I use it a lot. I think that's the right way to do it. I mean the problem is that people do have very particular setups with new windows where they do want a real new Arc window.

Chris: Yeah.

Nate: You get at a lot of the complexity there that you're mentioning about, like, "Oh, it's the same window with the same tabs, but they're different Web content." We tried every possibly way. We've tried it where, when you hit command-N, you get a new Arc window, but it's blank and it doesn't share your spaces. We've tried it where the pin tabs are shared and the unpinned tabs are not shared.

We tried a lot of things. Unfortunately, it's one of those where it's kind of hard to please everyone. But maybe you're right. Maybe the solution is to be very opinionated and say, "No, we're going to make opening a new window very hard, and we're going to push you to use command-N."

Chris: Tricky, though. I couldn't possibly guess what is right for people, but I'll tell you I literally just did it because that remapping doesn't involve third-party software. There's a shortcut tab right in the preferences, and you can just remap it yourself. I just did it, and I'm looking forward to seeing how that feels.

That should sync too, by the way. Put that on the list.

Nate: It should sync. You are right.

Chris: Yeah.


Nate: One thing I would love for us to do is, so, little Arc, the little Arc command option N hotkey works in any app, and so you can be in Xcode or Blender or something. You can be like, "I want to Google how to do this thing," and I can hit this hotkey, and I can search. It will open up. Even if your app in full screen, it will open up a little Web browser above that full-screen app, and you can just quickly reference something.

Chris: Mm-hmm.

Nate: I think it would be fun if we really leaned into that and sort of treated Arc's search box as the search box for the entire OS, even when you're outside of it.

Chris: Wasn't there some--? I feel like really early days, if there were any previews at all about what the little Browser Company of New York was doing, wasn't it that? Like, "Oh, you should be able to pull up a little research browser anywhere you want."

Nate: Yeah, we had a period of time where I was sharing on Twitter. I was sharing our failed experiments because we didn't quite want to show people what we were doing that was working, but we were like, "We've got to show people we're doing something."

Chris: Yeah.

Nate: And so one of those prototypes was called The Watcher, and the idea was it sort of replaced Alfred, Spotlight, or any of those launcher apps. But it would launch Web apps just like it would launch native apps.

So, in the same way that you could hit command-space and type Slack today, you could also hit command-space and type Amazon, and it would just make an app for It would copy the bundle, and it would make a new app. It'd put it in the applications folder, and it would call it Amazon, and it'd put the icon.

Chris: Oh, no.

Nate: It would be the favicon of the site.

Chris: I could see how that was maybe misguided-ish.

Nate: [Laughter] Yeah, for sure.


Nate: I mean it's really great.

Dave: I mean, but isn't that just Discord in Slack? [Laughter]

Nate: Exactly. It's like all these Electron apps, and now you have one for your DMV as well.

Dave: Yeah.

Nate: And for every long tab website, so it was interesting. The ide there was why should there be any difference between the applications that you access by going to a URL and the applications you access by installing them on your computer? They should feel the same. It didn't pan out.


Chris: No. Interesting, though. I did. I had a moment - last week or something. My history with Arc isn't so super long, but a good month-plus into it, I think.

Because of the spaces and all that, and the fact that most apps I use are Web apps first-ish, like they're Electron, so thus they work on the Web too. Maybe I'll just go super in on Arc, and my Slack will be in Arc. My Discord will be in Arc. My Notion will be in Arc. I'll lean into Google Calendar more than my desktop app, or whatever.

I don't think I've quite gotten there. I had probably ten of them that I was like, "I'm going to smash them all into Arc right now." It was a little too disruptive for my workflow.

Then I ended up kind of going back. Slack sucks on the Web. You've got to have Slack not in the Web. You don't even get the sidebar of your different Slacks in Slack on the Web. That's unacceptable, and that's not your fault. It's Slack's fault. You know? [Laughter] That's a totally untenable experience.

Nate: Yeah, it's true. I believe you could pin them separately. If you have all your Slacks, you could have them as different pins. I don't know if that's what you want to do, but understandable it's a big transition.

I've been able to go the whole way and use everything in Arc, and it's been really nice. My favorite thing about it is I do a lot of design projects and so will have a Figma file and will have a Notion document and maybe will have some tickets on Linear or something like that, some research.

What's cool is that I can just take all those and put them all together, and so it's like now I have this space and it's just stuff for my project.

Chris: Mm-hmm.

Nate: And I'm not distracted by any of the other stuff and any of the other apps because I can pin exactly what I want from each app, and I pull it out into its own thing.

Chris: Nice.

Nate: Which feels kind of nice.

Chris: You should check out Luro, Luro app. Write that down.

Dave: Luro does... Luro looks really good in Arc. I was actually--

Chris: Does it?

Dave: I was like, "Whoa!" Yeah. I found myself, too. Again, this is... I love that it's a browser with a thesis or an ethos. It's not just Chrome on top of an iFrame or what we're used to. [Laughter]

It feels like... It made me want to start moving, using stuff like Discord and everything. It kind of hit, too, right at the same time as the big switch to Mastodon, [laughter] the undercurrent that's happening. And Mastodon is great. I have it as a super tab. I hit command-2, and it just shows up for me now. It's like RSS--

Chris: A super tab, is that the official word?

Dave: I don't know what they are. What are they called?

Nate: It is now.

Chris: Yeah. [Laughter]

Dave: It is now?

Nate: I like that a lot better. They're called favorites.

Chris: Okay.

Nate: But a super tab is so fun.

Dave: Super tab. No.

Chris: Yeah.

Dave: Fire it up or something so it's a super tab.


Nate: Super tab it is.

Dave: Yeah. The super tab - I don't know - there's an interesting thing about it, too. I don't know if you all do anything, but they are very fast, too. I guess it's just....

Chris: There is something about that, isn't it?


Nate: When you close a super tab, we just load it again. [Laughter]

Dave: Okay.

Nate: We do some fancy stuff to quarantine it so it can't start playing audio or consume a ton of resources. But essentially, we just sort of assume that if you've pinned it as one of your top eight, you just permanently want it loaded. It's a little bit of a challenge because some Web apps don't reload themselves automatically, and so we have a little bit of site-specific behavior for the very popular ones where we try to refresh them occasionally if they don't refresh themselves. The different it makes is....

Chris: Fancy. I like to hear that. Not that I expected any different, but there's some real technology in here doing stuff for me.

Dave: Thought and care kind of going into it. Speaking of stuff for us -- developer mode, that's new. I can mouth blog it, but [laughter] one day, my local host URLs had this little under-construction border around it, and I was like, "What is going on?" [Laughter]

Chris: Hm...

Dave: I'd broken the application.


Chris: Does it automatically put local host URLs in developer mode? That's clever.

Nate: Yes. Yeah.

Dave: Yeah.

Nate: That's the reason we did it is we sort of always have this big tension, which is, how do we make it feel like we're not just cramming this browser full of stuff to the point that it's super complicated? One of the things we've been trying to do is trying to find ways that we can improve the people's experience without just putting another button in the UI and asking them to click it.

Developer mode is one of those where we just sort of assumed you're on a local host. There's a pretty good chance that you're developing, and so you might want this developer mode with the full URL.

You can turn it on. You can turn it off with your own preferences. But the idea is there's no button to enter developer mode. It just sort of happens.

Dave: Well, and that's what I like. It's automatic, and so then it's like, "Oh, the URL is there. I actually wanted the URL because I like URLs, and they are diminished in big Arc. Not in little Arc, interestingly. But in daddy Arc. We'll call him daddy Arc.


Nate: Father Arc.

Dave: Father Arc.


Dave: Daddy Arch has... But it shows the whole URL. I think that's awesome. That's exactly what I want. But you also kind of went the extra step, and you added icon buttons for developer tools.

You can just go straight to the console, go straight to the elements page, go straight--

Chris: Ooh, those are juicy. I love that.

Dave: I had a moment where I was just like, "Why didn't anyone think of this?" because of course, I now have muscle memory for command-shift-I, command-J, blah-blah-blah. But, like, cool.

Chris: [Laughter] Right.

Nate: [Laughter]

Dave: Exposing it to a whole new generation of developers, it's like, "Cool. Here. Click that button, and now you can just dig in."

Chris: It automatically takes it into inspect mode and all that. That's tremendous.


Nate: This is the power of user research. We put out a survey.

Famously, The Browser Company does not employ any Web developers. All of our websites are written by our designers.

And so, we don't have a lot of people on the team who are actually developing websites. And so when we realized so many Web developers were using Arc, we were like, "We've got to find out what they want," and we did middle school level user research. We made a Google Survey, and we put it on Twitter.

We asked people to fill it out, and it was wonderful because everyone said the same thing. They were like, "Let me see the full URL, please, when I am developing a website."

We said, "Okay. Great. We can do that."

They were like, "Give me quick access to the inspector," and so we did that. And they said, "Give me a better responsive preview for different sizes, different screen sizes at the same time."

We said maybe we could do that at some point in the future and, yeah.

Chris: Yeah. There are some browsers that do that already, and I think you're aiming a little higher than a responsive Web design browser.

Nate: Mm-hmm. Mm-hmm.

Dave: It interestingly solves a problem like I have where it's like I've been clicking around a website and the bug is still happening. I'm like, "Why? I just fixed it." Oh, it's because I'm on production, not local host.

Chris: Hmm...

Dave: I've done tricks in the past where I changed the background color of the website if I'm local host, and this kind of just does it for you.

Chris: You've almost convinced me otherwise now because my criticism on day one of the developer mode was like, "I don't need giant red dashes to tell me about developer mode."

Nate: [Laughter] Fair.

Chris: Chill. You know? [Laughter]

Nate: [Laughter] No, that's fair.

Chris: But in a way, it's telling you that's dev, and the other one is prod. For a long time, I used to change the favicon, but I've gotten lazy and don't have that in place for my sites at the moment. Maybe the red dashes is the way to go. I don't know.

Nate: That's the point of the caution tape. We thought it looked cool, and we also thought... You know people are telling us, and I've done this in the past, too. I've made websites. I've occasionally tried to do something on dev and then, like, "Wait! I just deleted a bunch of stuff in production." It's never a good feeling.

Chris: No. Yeah.

Nate: It's anything you do....

Chris: Yeah, that's a tightrope because that is a little thing that can happen sometimes.

Nate: Mm-hmm.

Chris: But that's a little bit of a sledgehammer for a smaller problem perhaps.

Nate: Mm-hmm.

Chris: I don't know. I don't know. We'll see. It's kind of rad, though.

Dave: I will confess. When I first saw the construction tape, I was like, "Where is the option to turn it off?" But it has grown on me.

Chris: Yeah. Fair enough.

Dave: I'm feeling it now.

Chris: It'd be interesting if some people would prefer... Can you just turn it on, like just on all the time? I like the URL at the top. I like the features. I'm a nerd on all websites. Don't just limit me to one website.

Nate: [Laughter]

Chris: Tough call. I don't know. I'm not particularly opinionated there.


Nate: We may, at some point in the future, introduce a preference where you can have the URL always visible if that's what you're into. I don't think developer mode will be on by ever site because you really don't want the caution tape on every page. You probably don't want the inspect element button on every page.

Dave: Hmm...

Chris: Maybe the URL bar thing.

Nate: Maybe. Maybe we will.

Dave: Eh...

Nate: The URL bar extensions. Something fun.

Chris: Don't count my vote either way. I think you're doing just fine with your Google Form research - or whatever.

Nate: [Laughter]

Chris: If you write code at Arc, what do you write? Swift or whatever?

Nate: We write Swift. We have done... So, most Chromium browsers, the way they work is they write patches on top of Chromium. Right? Brave, Edge, all those companies, they will just take the Chromium source code, which is enormous (takes four hours to compile, all this crazy C++) and they will write patches on top of it, which is hard because it's a memory unsafe language. It's complicated. And it's also, like, when they release a zero-day patch, you have to go in and merge your changes with the latest Chrome, and you have to fix all those merge conflicts, and you have to do it in a day because your users are sitting out there without the patch for the zero-day.

And so, we tried a different approach, which we called EDK. The idea was to take Chromium and turn it into a little SDK and just embed that in a normal Mac app in the same way that if you've ever written an iOS app or a Mac app and you've used the WebKit integration, it's just a view that you can put into any app. You don't have to compile the browser engine. That mini interface--

Chris: Hmm... And there's good enough API access to talk to it?

Nate: Yeah. What we did is, rather than using WebKit, we decided Chromium was the way to go, and so we turned Chromium into a sort of SDK, just like WebKit.

Chris: Hmm...

Nate: Of course, we can add the APIs that we want to add because we control it. But the result is that we're writing Swift all day long, and we're writing what is essentially a normal native Mac OS app which lets us do the kind of things we do a lot faster than we would have normally.

Dave: Well, that kind of gets into my thoughts on prototyping. I was like, how do you prototype in something that takes four hours to compile? It's not fun times USA to do that.

Nate: Mm-hmm.

Dave: Using something like Swift allows you to A) probably see it right in Xcode or something, right? Is that kind of or not quite?


Nate: That's the idea. The Xcode live previews, in my experience, are not really worth trying because they don't work that well. But you get a pretty fast compile cycle.

Dave: Right.

Nate: You don't have to worry about it.

Dave: I did notice, because the animations and flyouts and whatever on Arc are very buttery, and so I was like, "Oh, that's probably using core animation very tied to Apple," but I did read Windows is in the future for Arc. Right? Or maybe it's not. Maybe that's crap.

Nate: It is. It is.

Dave: Okay. So, if you're writing all in Swift, how does that jump? How do you do that?

Chris: You just hire 50 people and then it's easy.


Dave: Yeah. Okay.

Nate: It was actually a big question for a long time because there are two ways to write Windows apps and neither of them are good (is what we heard). I was sort of surprised by this coming from the Apple ecosystem, but the sanctioned way that Microsoft asks you to write an app is using C#, which is their sort of Java-like interpreted language. It's memory save, and it's productive. It's nice.

Unfortunately, the performance is not really what we need. Meanwhile, you can write in C++, which is kind of a scary language and leaves a lot of room for security vulnerabilities because it's not memory safe.

We were like, "What if we wrote it in Sift?" Funny if that happened. Eventually, we sort of realized that feels like the right direction to go in. Just take this approach of writing an SDK that wraps Chromium and then having a Swift app and writing the bindings for Windows and WinUI and all those frameworks. -**/And so, that's the approach we're taking.

Chris: Oh, that's wild.

Nate: We've made significant progress on it. We have some very janky prototypes, but we'll see if it works.

Chris: Yeah. There's market there for sure.

Dave: Very interesting. Then I'm sure you get Linux nerds saying, "Arc doesn't support Linux." Is there a story there at all?

Chris: [Laughter] You can say no.

Nate: Not yet.

Chris: [Laughter]

Nate: Probably the same.


Nate: Baby steps. Baby steps.

Chris: Yeah.

Nate: Don't forget the mobile platforms too. People are asking us to write iPhone apps and Android apps and all this stuff. It's like, okay. We have 40 people at the company, 44 in total, 25 to 30 engineers. We have our hands full with a lot of stuff, but excited.

There is a path forward that's similar to the path at Windows, which is that you build the open-source tool chain. A lot of the work we're doing to make Swift work not only Mac will help us make it work both on Windows and on Linux, but it's certainly not in the immediate horizon.

Chris: Hmm... I wonder. It does make me think about... It came up in our Discord, certainly, when we were talking about Arc. It's like, how much should I invest in this thing?

it's a startup where there's no incoming money - whatever. I don't... It doesn't bother me in the same way an app that's taking really important business data or something. I'm not going to use free QuickBooks. That's not a good plan [laughter] because if they go under, then I'm in this weird position where I've got to be transferring data.

If God forbid something happened to Arc, as sad as that would be -- I wish nothing but the best for you -- I can just switch back to Chrome. I won't die. You know? Or Safari, or Firefox, or whatever.

It's like, "Who cares? Just use it while it's good." But presumably, you have a plan to not die. What is said plan? [Laughter]


Nate: Yeah. [Laughter] Well, that's a little bit above my pay grade.


Nate: But no, I mean what I'll say is that it's an area of experimentation and we'll figure it out. We promised not to do any bad experiments, but we look to companies like Figma and Notion and Slack who have sort of successfully been able to build a business where the core product is free for most people, and even for small groups, but hopefully, you love it so much that when you go to work, you go to your employer, and you're like, "I want to use Arc, and I think our whole team should use Arc." And the employer comes back and says, "Well, we need SOC 2 compliance," so then we say--

Chris: Got it.

Nate: "We can give you SOC 2 compliance if you pay us a lot of money." I mean that's not--

Chris: That's not it, I'm sure.

Nate: ..what we're going to do, but I think we look to companies like that and their business model, and we've seen it work for them.

Chris: Yeah. Fair enough. Well, that's good to know. Yeah.

Nate: At the end of the day, it's still the open Web, right? All the websites you write in Arc work everywhere else. All the boosts you write in Arc are just Chrome extensions.

Chris: Mm-hmm.

Nate: You can ... here. You can take them out of the folder and put them into Chrome and they'll work just fine. And most of the stuff that you create is pretty portable over to another browser.

I believe you can import into Arc from -- from Arc to another browser, so we certainly don't want to be building a castle and holding the gate hostage.

Chris: Yeah, there are a couple. I just have a couple of odd points, and then we're coming up on the hour a little bit. One of them is that muscle memory stuff I wanted to circle back to. Dave and I are both like, "I need a window over here and a window over here," because I've got to look at them both. The command and muscle memory is pretty strong.

Fortunately, there's split view. Pretty clever. You can stay in father Arc, we're calling it. You can stay in father Arc and look at two websites at once. It's still... A month in, I'm still trying to figure out the fastest flow because my brain goes, "I know what I want on the left, and I know what I want on the right," and it always takes me a minute to get there. [Laughter] What do I do?


Nate: Yes, I have a hack.

Chris: Yeah.

Nate: It is called holding down option while you click links. On any page you're on, you can hold down option and click the link and it opens in an alternate split view.

Now, if you are on a page, say you have two pages that are not open--

Chris: Oh, that's sick. That's an awesome hack.

Nate: --and you want to split both of them. I want to split, and I want to split CSS-Tricks, right? I hit command-T, type in The Browser Company, hit enter, open it up, and then I hit command-T again, type CSS-Tricks, hold down option and then hit enter, and it will load on the right.

Chris: Oh...

Nate: That's the fastest way that I know of to do it. Usually, I'm not a keyboard whiz. I just drag and drop.

Chris: No, I get what you mean. Yeah, that option stuff, that's good stuff. That will help me.

Nate: And we want to make it work everywhere. And if it doesn't work everywhere, please let us know.

Chris: Yeah.

Dave: That makes you feel like a research god. You're just like ten windows horizontally. That's wonderful. That's a good experience.

Nate: Four at most, unfortunately.

Dave: Four at most? Okay.

Nate: Yeah. That's our modernization plans. You want a fifth split view?

Chris: [Laughter]

Dave: Yeah.

Chris: You can't keep splitting past two, can you? You can?

Nate: I'm pretty sure you can go to four.

Chris: Oh, my God.

Dave: I got four.

Nate: My computer is too small for it.

Chris: I did not know that. Okay. Well, learning stuff every day. That's kind of nice in that it's built right into the main menu. You can resize them from in between each other and all that kind of thing. It kind of solves this idea of we want you to stay in the main complex, but you want to look at more things at once. Pretty satisfying. It's easy to close them and all that.

Even that evolved fairly quickly. You know I got so used to the top bar having that little expanded animation and, just in the last week or so, it's like, "That's gone." It's now kind of like in the upper right where you get your extensions.

Nate: Mm-hmm.

Chris: Even that, I feel like Arc is almost trying to teach you to not necessarily use your mouse for it because there's another way to activate extensions, and it's all built into the ultimate memory or the ultimate muscle memory thing you have, which is command-T.

Nate: Mm-hmm.

Chris: We've used command-T 20 billion times on it. Arc does this thing, which is also in the zeitgeist of development, I feel like. Every fricken' Web app in the world has an omni bar or whatever.

Nate: Mm-hmm.

Chris: Command-K is popular on the Web. But you've stolen it in Arc to be command-T, which in most browsers just kicks off a new tab and then, famously in Chrome, well, what do you do in that new tab? You search Google.

Nate: [Laughter] Mm-hmm.

Chris: But in Arc, you absolutely can search. I feel like a lot of people will continue to do that. But also, as you type in something, it might take you back to a history item. It might take you to a tab that's already open and you kind of forgot that it was open. It might activate an extension for you. I assume it does a bunch of other things, too, but I feel like that's the clutch moment of Arc that's kind of like reexamining the experience of using the Web.

If you're rocking this OS thesis, that's probably pretty fundamental to it. I'm taking an action. It might be searching the Web, but it may not be.


Nate: Yeah. I mean we think of it as taking the power of the command line and giving it to people who are maybe not as familiar with it. And the goal is you should be able to type anything you want to do into the command bar and just have it perform. Obviously, it's a big ranking challenge. [Laughter]

Chris: Yeah.

Nate: Yeah.

Chris: The trick is that if you want to search, that's the moment. Once in a while, you're trying to search and it decides that you should do something else instead. It's a little bit like, "God damn it."

Nate: Its ranking....

Chris: Yeah. [Laughter]

Nate: Yeah.

Chris: Right.

Nate: We'll get it, I'm sure.

Chris: Yeah, I'm sure. That's one you really want to get right because, yeah. Anyway, I'm sure you're well aware. Pretty cool. That's that command-T thing.

Also, the minimization of that URL bar, I feel like that was... There's a clutch key command that everybody needs to know, the command-shift-C that copies the URL.

Nate: Yes.

Chris: I think if you're really missing seeing that URL bar, I feel like there's a decent chance that what you're actually missing is a convenient place to go copy and paste the URL.

Nate: Yes.

Chris: Now that we get the keyboard command, I never really realized this, but that really helps.


Nate: That's my favorite keyboard trick out of the whole browser. Every time I'm... Sometimes I have the misfortune of using Chrome, and I try to hit it, and it opens up the inspector, and I'm just like, "How did I live like this?"

It also has the added advantage of it tries to strip out trackers and things like that from certain links that we try to go a little bit above and beyond.

Dave: You sanitize them? Wow!

Chris: I was wondering that because I wrote that in my notes somewhere. I learned that it did that, and then I was trying to find documentation on it, and I couldn't find it. So, if there's a bunch of UTM params, it just rips them off, right? Is that the case?

Nate: I believe so. Yes.

Chris: Okay.

Dave: That is maybe a cardinal reason to use Arc. That's wonderful.

Chris: I have this little--

Nate: We call it... We actually do call it Super Copy.

Dave: Super Copy.

Nate: Love the name.

Dave: Super tabs.

Chris: I think it's called the Toggle Zapper, or something.

Dave: [Indiscernible]

Chris: I literally run a little tiny menu bar app that has one job and it's that any URL that happens to hit your clipboard, it rips off all the crap at the end of it. I love it. Now I may just not need to run it anymore because every time I copy a URL, it kind of automatically does that.

It matters for blog posts and crap because you might have it bookmarked as, like, "Oh, I read this link in some newsletter," and they put UTM crap on it because they want to know, you know, indicate that the traffic came from this newsletter. But I can't use that same UTM when I'm writing a blog post. It literally muddies the data of what everybody was trying to do, and it's so easy to forget that stuff.

Be gone, URL crap. I love it.

Nate: [Laughter]

Chris: Nice little feature.

Nate: Be gone.

Dave: Is there anything like are there places Arc is exploring or going? Is there anything you can share right now?


Nate: Anything I could share in terms of concrete things we're doing soon, probably not. But I could tell you some of the areas that we're interested in exploring. Like I said, we don't really plan ahead as much as we think about the areas that we're interested in researching. We research them, and we see how they feel. Sometimes it takes a year for something like that to actually come out in a version that we're proud of.

A couple of things we're looking at in the new year are thinking about mobile. People have been asking us a lot about mobile, and we're thinking about, like, what does it mean to bring Arc to mobile? What should a version of Arc on your phone do? What role should it have in your life?

We're thinking a lot about multiplayer and this idea that the browser could be this... Because the browser is the layer that lives on top of some of the apps that you use that it could be an ideal place to introduce things like collaboration.

We talked earlier about how, when I work on a project, I like to make a space and put all the things from all of the different Web apps in there. It's like, that feels cool, but I'm working on a project with a bunch of other people and they aren't really represented. I can't even share that space with them. We're thinking a lot about what is the best way to bring people into the browser in a more meaningful level while also browsers are so personal that you don't want to make it feel like suddenly it's not your own private space.

Those are a couple of the things. Just generally, we're trying to make Arc better. The way I always explain Arc to people is we don't really know what we're doing except that we're sort of trying to push the browser forward and build the browser that hopefully is...

The browser is the same today, for the most part, as it was in 2008 when Chrome came out in terms of UI. We just don't think that's what people are going to be using in 2040, and so we want to push the product forward. We'll keep pushing on that whatever it takes.

Not whatever it takes...

Chris: [Laughter]

Dave: [Laughter]

Nate: Within reason. Within reason.

Chris: I've been working really hard. Yeah. Got it.

Nate: [Laughter] We have decided we need to eliminate the human race in order to make the best browser. We're not going to do that.

Dave: Preceding by all applicable laws, we will push the browser forward.

Nate: Paperclip optimizer.

Dave: [Laughter] Thank you so much for coming on the show and talking about Arc. It's really interesting. For people who aren't following you and giving you money, how can they do that?

Nate: Please don't give me money. [Laughter] I am @nateparrott on Twitter, that's parrot spelled like the bird but with two T's. I'm on Mastodon, but I haven't tooted yet [laughter], so maybe I'll move over at some point.

If you're interested in Arc, check out Yeah, please give us your feedback and give us your thoughts. You guys, too.

Chris: [Laughter]

Nate: Gripes and complaints, please send them our way.

Dave: Wonderful. Wonderful. All right, well, thank you so much. And thank you, dear listener, for downloading this in your podcatcher of choice. Be sure to star, heart, favorite it up. That's how people find out about the show.

Follow us on... Twitter, I guess. Uh... weird times.

Chris: Ugh.

Dave: Anyway, still not used to it. Anyway, join us in the D-d-d-d-discord,

Chris, do you got anything else you'd like to say?

Chris: Oh...