A cruise down El Camino

A browser that does not suck reached it’s 1.0 milestone recently.

Camino is a Mozilla-based web browser that leverages what is best about Mac OS X. Way back when, this browser was billed as being built on Cocoa with a Unix backend. I don’t see any of that billing on their current site, but it was a nice idea. Unix is fast, and Cocoa is native Mac OS X goodness. So it should be a powerful, speedy platform in which to build a browser.

I don’t know if any of that is true any longer, but speedy it is. Page rendering blows away Firefox and Safari, without question. I’m not going to time it, but just a quick jumping around between the various browsers let me feel that Camino was by far the snappiest-feeling user experience.

The user interface is clean. Looks a bit more busy than Safari, but less so than Firefox. And certainly a Firefox user switching to Camino will feel right at home I think. The tabbed browser interface is nice and compact, with the close window buttons on the tabs where they should have been placed in Firefox (although there’s an extension to fix that…)

Camino supports digital certificates for client authentication. Thank goodness – now if more web developers could just learn how to implement this…

Rendering is based on Mozilla 1.8, so we get the industrial strength display. Supports SVG and CSS3.

How it plays with WordPress is especially nice. With Safari, the user unfortunately misses much of the shortcuts in WordPress’ user interface. Of course Firefox handles it nicely. With Camino, you get the same functionality as Firefox, but in Aqua:

Camino rendering of the Write Post buttons in WordPress, with Aqua-fied buttons.

(Note that I don’t use that funky rich text editor in WordPress 2.0 which likes to eat up all my HTML tags…)

We seem to have what appears to be a Spotlight implementation in the History view. The rendering of results while searching for recent sites was pretty much instantaneous. Sweet!

To close up here, it’s a very nice browser. I like it so much in this release that I’m going to finally switch it to my default browser for a few weeks and see how it goes. Is it as extensible and as uniform as Firefox? No. Is it as tightly integrated with the Mac OS as Safari? Well, arguably not quite, but it does very well in this regard, in places where it counts. Opera? It’s not my cup of tea – I like my opera in the theater. Does it suck like Internet Explorer? No, of course not! But what it is is a fast, stable, simple, highly functional web browser that makes for a great user experience. I highly recommend giving it a try.

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