With the exception of a few years when Internet Explorer was actually the more standard-compliant browser, I’ve always surfed the Web with a Netscape-originated browser. I supported Mozilla when it was still struggling to make something even approaching a usable browser. My name was one of thousands to be found in a New York Times ad announcing Firefox’s debut. I have friends that work with Mozilla.
But the Macintosh version of Firefox has grown more unstable and a browser’s speed and reliability are critical in my work. So, a week ago I decided to switch browsers from Firefox to Safari.
After adjusting to the subtle font rendering differences, here are my thoughts.
- Using the Awesome Bar to find visited pages
- Shortcut key combination for jumping to different tabs†
- Lack of visible XML rendering
- Keywords for bookmarks
- View source rendering without markup highlighting
- Accessing bookmarks via the Awesome Bar
- No undo close of tab feature*
- Full screen*
- Firebug’s various plugins
- Searching via the Awesome Bar
- Multiple search engine support*
- Re-opening the previous last session when the browser starts*
- Auto-closing the download window*
- Have I mentioned the Awesome Bar?
* Glims adds many these features I miss and can be trimmed down to maintain the minimalism of Safari’s UI.
Beginning to accept
- Jumping to the search (⌘ + Option + F)
- View source (for more than a decade ⌘ + U, not ⌘ + Alt + U)
- Launching speed
- Fast page rendering
- Lightweight feel of the application
- RSS rendering
- Native Cocoa rending (enabling quick dictionary lookups)
- ⌘ + Option + E to empty cache
In general, Safari feels delicate, but faster.
Unfortunately, its UI conventions, in particular tab switching and searching via the location bar, seem stuck in past decade. In Safari, Apple agains shows it values visual æsthetics over power functionality. As a result, the default page looks stunning but quickly becomes a distraction. The bookmark/history navigation showcases pages as if they were album covers, but the iTunes metaphor breaks when trying to group items with tags.
In all likelihood, I’ll stick with Safari for now because it is fast and stable.
Firefox, though, will never be far from mind, and with each new release, I’ll give the Web’s truly open-source browser another try.