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When you see some text prefixed by “Http://”, you automatically assume that what follows is a web address, as defined by the Hypertext Transfer Protocol. The question is, since most web addresses are easily recognizable anyway, do you really need it?

The developers of Google Chrome don’t think you do, so they simply chose to hide it in a developer version of Chrome.

The solution might not be that simple, though. You can hide the http:// bit from a web address, but it doesn’t mean it’s not really there, which makes this solution somewhat flawed. Worse, (as seen from the comments from the Chromium wiki thread, where this feature was actually reported as a bug) it might actually cause some problems in real-life usage.

“Many blogs, message boards, email viewing software, instant messaging software, etc. depend on matching against http:// to auto-link URLs. Removing http:// will train end-users to omit it, which will have a negative impact on usability all over the web,” one commenter says.

An example of this is auto-linking of URL fragments by the Google Talk client; other issues include copy-pasting of web addresses and certain related bugs. The folks at Chrome are right about one thing: the “http://” part of the web address serves little purpose and mostly creates noise. The question is: will hiding it solve the problem?

Tags: chrome, Google, HTTP