January 7, 2003

Safari raises iBrowse?

Today's big news for web developers came from San Francisco's MacWorld show where Apple unveiled the public beta of a new Apple branded browser christened the unlikely and I-can't-decide-if-it's-clever-or-not Safari. Guess if they had as much guts as I do, they could've gone with a worse name. :)

Why should you care? Because, like Microsoft, Apple will bundle this browser, once released, with every Mac it sells. Soon enough it will be a browser on which your site will need to render well if you are to appeal to this market segment. And maybe, because it's based on standards and an open source project—though surprisingly, not the open source project you are thinking about.

Safari is a Cocoa application built upon KHTML, the same code as the Konqueror browser, itself part of the KDE open source desktop environment project for Linux OS. According to this email from Safari's Engineering Master, KHTML was chosen over the more widely publicized Gecko/Mozilla code for it's concise size but speedy (Apple claims a 40% speed improvement over IE for OS X) and wide standards support.

From what I can tell so far, the beta performs as advertized, rendering sites quickly and well. Bookmark and history handling in the Collections view is pretty darn nice. Address book entries that contain url also show up in Collections view, showing off brushed-metal app integration. Favicons are supported. Flash is supported. Shockwave is supported, although with the OpenGL offset bug recently exposed by Chimera's Shockwave implementation. QuickTime is supported (duh). Plug-in detection and reporting. Google searching from the toolbar. Hot-key cache-clearing and Pop-up window blocking (disabled by default). It's even AppleScriptable.

But, it is still a beta and has bugs, no doubt both inherited from Konqueror and newly born, to be aware of and work around. Mark Pilgrim's one of the first to start documenting Safari information for web developers and his site deserves a bookmark. Apple has thoughtfully provided an easy way to submit bugs, activated by an appropriate creepy-crawly button icon where most browser throbbers live, a typically Apple touch that you have to see and use to appreciate.

Never thought I'd see Apple jump into the browser game, but it looks like they could have a contender on their hands once they work out the kinks.

Not sure yet if I'm ready to jump ship from the Chimera nightlies (the tabbed browsing implementation is to die for), but I'm liking what I see.

Posted by Lewis Francis at January 7, 2003 11:57 PM

Regarding this entry's title: besides being a truly horrible pun and weak opening joke (which only one of you gave the anticipated and well-deserved grief), it turns out that the iBrowse name is already being used for an Amiga web browser.

I'm biting my tongue. I'm also secretly afraid that if this name hadn't already been taken...

Posted by: Lewis Francis at January 9, 2003 11:30 PM

Everyone interested in Safari progress should keep an eye on Dave Hyatt's Surfin' Safari. I believe Dave was involved in starting up the Chimera and Phoenix projects, both lightweight Mozilla-based browsers, and is now a member of Apple's Safari team.

In his blog he writes that he works"...primarily on the WebCore, the open source portion of Safari that contains KHTML (as well as the implementation of the Qt subset required to support KHTML). In future blogs I'll be talking about some of the changes and architectural improvements that we made to KHTML and explain those in more detail..."He also notes that several reported bugs have already been fixed; among them low Flash Player frame rates and 96 dpi font rendering.

In another posting he outlines Safari standards support:"KHTML supports much of DOM level 2 and CSS2, including the DOM level 2 event model (e.g., mutation events too!) and rich selector syntax (even a little bit of CSS3 selectors). In addition we have added and fixed CSS support in a number of key areas, including partial support for min/max-width, better support for z-index (including support for auto z-indices), and better support for the CSS white-space property."Here's to hoping there are tabs in Safari's future.

Posted by: Lewis Francis at January 9, 2003 11:58 PM

...and for enquiring minds:

Netscape 5.0 Mozilla/5.0 (Macintosh; U; PPC Mac OS X; en-us) AppleWebKit/48 (like Gecko) Safari/48

Posted by: Lewis Francis at January 10, 2003 12:17 AM

Apple is reporting that... ?Safari is a home run, with over a million downloads in less than two weeks,? said Steve Jobs, Apple?s CEO. ?Mac users have discovered that Safari beta release is already the fastest browser on the Mac and possibly the best browser in the world.? via MacNN.

Posted by: Lewis Francis at January 20, 2003 10:27 PM
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