Mike-Ward.Net

Safari Beta for Windows

Amid all the announcements from Apple this week I found an updated beta of Safari quietly inserted. I’ve blogged about Safari before and found it a very good browser even with the bugs. The update fixes many of the issues Windows users found annoying. Chief among these is that you can easily resize and minimize the browser via standard windows commands and operations. Secondly, and almost equally important, is that you now have a choice between the Apple font smoothing technology and ClearType. It’s great to have a choice on something so personal and subjective as font rendering.

Safari works great under Vista. I’ve experienced no issues like crashes or excessive memory or slow downs. Is it faster than Firefox and IE as Apple claims? That’s hard to say objectively. Subjectively, it certainly is no slouch. Pages do seem to snap to life a bit quicker but it’s not a deal winner by any stretch. Firefox and IE are no laggards on my system.

There are some issues that keep it from being my default browser however.

  • There appears to be no proxy authentication support at the moment or at the very least, it’s broken. The proxy here at work requires a login and after entering credentials, it faults. Bummer. Others have also reported the same issue so I’m sure it will get fixed in a future version.
  • There is no StumbleUpon button. I’m throughly addicted to StumbleUpon and miss having it on the toolbar. To date, I have been unable to find a StumbleUpon toolbar/button for Windows Safari. Maybe someone can point me to a link?
  • JavaScript support is still broken in places. In particular, the OpenWYSIWYG editor does not work. This is the editor I use in Bloget so I’m a bit bummed. I’ve logged a bug with Apple. Hopefully they will take my issue to heart.
  • I can’t put my bookmarks on the menu bar. I’m one of those screen real estate conservatives and like to keep as much of it available for web page content. The Safari bookmark bar is definitely a winner but I can’t move to the menu bar like I can in Firefox.
  • Plugins are not as plentiful and interesting at the moment. If you’re a Web developer, Firebug is reason enough to keep Firefox handy.

Things I like:

  • I just like the look and feel of it. That’s not the most important issue but then again, I spend a lot of time staring at Web pages and it feels more pleasurable in Safari. I like the way pages render and I like the Apple font smoothing. Other’s have complained but now you have a choice. That’s why they call it a personal computer.
  • The animations are better. Apple has always had a flare for those little animations when interacting with screen elements. Float over the menus and they highlight but with just the slightest delay and fade in. Move the bookmarks on toolbar and they bounce just a bit has they settle in. There’s something that’s just so right and yet hard to describe about it.
  • The bookmark bar works for me. It uses no more room than required and does exactly what it should do.
  • The browser uses the full screen height by default. Open a new window and it uses the full height of the screen. This is just logical in my mind. It was the lack of this on other applications that drove me to write FreeSnap. This also means I can turn the tabs off (more screen real estate) and use separate windows. After all, I’ve got a perfectly good set of tabs at the bottom of the screen already.
  • The inline search is neat. I wish it could be activated with the “/” (slash) key like in Firefox but that’s a minor issue. Inline search highlights every item on the page the matches. Simple and effective.
  • SnapBack takes you back to your search page no matter how far you’ve wandered down the primrose lane of links. Same reason I like StumpleUpon. All those links, so little time!
  • Standards compliance. Safari is the only browser (that I know of) that passes the Acid 2 Browser Test.

As you can tell, I really like Safari. If Apple can continue to fix the issues, it won’t be long before it’s my default browser.

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