Tag Archives: User Agents

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.

Pimped out

Pimp My Safari is a site dedicated to featuring plugins, hacks, and extensions to the Safari web browser. Kerim wrote about this site the other day and, being a fan of some of the key Firefox extensions, I went to go check it out.

For some reason, I didn’t click with the Saft plugin. I uninstalled it after only a couple of hours use. Just a personal thing I suppose, but the type-ahead-find feature didn’t quite work as I had hoped. I could never see in the page the text I was typing, and Firefox lets me press return to acivate a selected link.

WebDevAdditions looked interesting. I haven’t installed it yet because it isn’t anywhere near where the Firefox Web Developer Extension is. But I’m going to keep an eye on it.

I did in fact jive with the SafariStand plugin. I’ll probably keep that one installed in Safari for now. I love it actually. The code coloring is rudimentary but way better than the default of nothing. But the best thing about the code window is the addition of the Apply, Revert, and Reload buttons. Very cool. Also love the Copy Title function and the Show Page Info dialog. All in all quite a helpfull little addition to pimp out my Safari with.

Safari time

Dave Hyatt just mentioned a new release of Safari, v1.3. The update includes improvements in page load time and JavaScript performance, more standards support, and improvements in extensibility, compatibility, and security. Cool!

I was reading Hyatt’s blog this evening because of the engagement he’s taken with solving the acid2 test. Acid2 is a torture test for CSS rendering, and none of the current browsers got it right. Excellent to see both the rapid progress of solving acid2 and the new update in the meantime. I may switch back to Safari for a while…

Update: Well it indeed seems a bit faster. Rendering is a bit odd in the WordPress admin section though. Why does the Categories fieldset look too high? And the final g in the Save and Continue Editing button is kind of clipped.

Yet another update: The WordPress rendering stuff was easily fixed with some tinkering with the admin css file.

Vendor (un)Lock

PCWorld.com – IE Continues to Lose Grip on Market

PC World suspects continued bleeding of Internet Explorer’s market share may be staunched somewhat by dependence on proprietary markup and scripting practices to access certain websites. My emphasis added:

Firefox still appears to be maintaining the momentum of its highly publicized 1.0 launch ten weeks ago—the project says users have downloaded more than 19 million copies of the browser. But it could ultimately be stalled at a low figure by factors such as incompatibility with some websites. Enterprises also frequently build in-house applications on the proprietary Microsoft technology supported by Explorer, a factor Microsoft says it is counting on to maintain its dominance. If for nothing else, Explorer is necessary to access Microsoft’s Windows Update site.

However, it is ultimately in enterprises’ interest to support standards rather that proprietary technology, since every Explorer-centric application increases a business’ dependence on Microsoft, according to Francois Bancilhon, chief executive of Linux vendor MandrakeSoft SA.

Well, Francois surely isn’t the only one that says this. Any sane and non-masochistic web developer will say the same thing if they understand the benefits of web standards. (And when I say non-masochistic, I mean that strictly in a web-design-productivity sense. I’m sure there’s plenty of practicing masochists of the beat-me-whip-me-make-me-write-bad-checks variety out there who also cannot stand to see sloppy code.)

Quite simply, making the decision to support MSIE only – rather than taking a standards-based approach – is a risky business proposition. Because what if all of a sudden more than half of your potential customers are now using Firefox as their system default? Would you want to just turn away half of your customer base just because you neglected to do a standards-based design in the first place? What if that number jumped even higher? It’s not inconceivable. Even the current numbers are significant: non-IE browsers make up 10% of the potential visitors to any given garden-variety public website. Who in their right mind turns away 10% of their customers? It’s like the sign at the roller coaster entrance that says “you must be this high to take this ride”. All an upstart new competitor has to do is to code a website to standards and invite those outcasts over to have a compelling feature that might attract that many of their clients away.

How to Switch from Safari to Firefox

 I’ve been using Firefox at work lately, and figured it was time to make the switch on my home machine. But I’ve been using Safari for a long time now, and all my bookmarks are in there. But making the switch was relatively painless.

To make the switch to Firefox, here’s what I did:

  1. Download Firefox and install it
  2. Download the Safari Bookmark Exporter and install it
  3. Run the Safari Bookmark Exporter – first click Analyze Bookmarks, select Phoenix/Firebird/Firefox (WTF?) then click Export Bookmarks.
  4. When you click Export Bookmarks, the Safari Bookmark Exporter will try to overwrite your Firefox bookmarks.html file if it exists. Click Save and agree to delete the existing one.
  5. Poof – your bookmarks are now in Firefox.
  6. Now go install bunches of cool Firefox extensions like Web Developer and Gmail Notifier!