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I went on a Safari and caught a Fox

posted on
Jun 15, 2009 @ 14:31
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Safari 4 (beta and final) have impressed me. Not only the speed which is even better than the latest Firefox 3.5b99 beta, but I just fell in love with the spruced up Web Inspector ever since it appeard in the WebKit nightlies.

Although Glimmerblocker made me switch back to Safari as a main browser for a while, I finally decided I will stick with Firefox for the time being. For a Mac aficionado this decision might surprise you…

I see myself working more and more cross-platform, although I basically still love and prefer my Mac (I’m a typographer after all). I’m using Windows at work (argh), and Ubuntu as well as OS X on my Mac, just as much as I was using Ubuntu intensively on my Netbook.

Surf and Sync

How am I to keep track of things I’m working on, new bookmarks etc? I have tried using del.icio.us to stay browser independent, but that doesn’t work very well with auto-completion of URLs in the address field of browsers. I know, there are plugins/add-ons to sync with delicious, but due to the non-linear way those bookmarks are saved and the overlapping tags and categories, you end up having endless duplicate URLs in your bookmarks file.

I have been using Xmarks for quite a while now and I am very happy with this solution. Not only does it let me sync my bookmarks and passwords with Firefox, I can also set up profiles to exclude certain folders on certain machines for synching, so I won’t have any work-only bookmarks showing up on my home machine. And for the paranoid ones, you can even sync your bookmarks and passwords to your own dedicated server just nicely.

I am also looking with some expectation at Mozilla Labs’ Weave if it turns out to be a better solutions than Xmarks. By the way it looks like there are some interesting other things cooking at Mozilla Labs, so you might want to take a look anyway.

Offline Reading

Offline reading gets more important because of my iPod touch, which can only connect through WiFi to the Interwebs, which again isn’t an option while commuting. Read It Later is a plug-in which I have been using for quite a while to mark articles for just that. Now it even comes with an offline-reading app for the iPhone/iPod touch, which as made this add-on/application one of the must haves for my iPod.

The single downside is that I cannot yet use Xmarks to sync bookmarks to Safari on my iPod, but until that has been figured out I’ll probably be using the iPhone interface for Xmarks.

What I’ll loose

I don’t say Firefox is the perfect browser, so I’ll first of all need to note the things I’ll dearly miss on Firefox (until I find an according add-on to get that functionality).

  • I will miss my Services menu and all the functionality that it gives me for all software written in Cocoa for OS X.
  • I will miss typing “gm” for gmail.com, and then hitting return to open the first recommended page. On Firefox I’ll have to hit TAB > RETURN.
  • I will miss resizable text input fields.
  • I will miss being able to stop any download, copy the partially downloaded file over and either resume it on another machine with Safari, or even drag and drop it onto Speed Download Plus, to complete the download even faster. Firefox removes the file if I stop the download and remove it from the Downloads window.
  • Using Safari still brings some attitude with it, while Firefox is so “mainstream” lately ;-) (the times are changing aren’t they?)

Browser wars regurgitated

I think we are looking at yet another browser war in the years to come, which might be about cross-platform experience. There are two big factors that are driving this developement:

For one more and more people are now using handheld devices, smartphones with full browsers (iPhone, Blackberry, Palm, you name it).

The other reason is that more and more people are using several operating systems lately. After the Vista PR disaster, people slowly are starting to see the light and alternative operating systems are slowly gaining if not market share yet at least brain share (awareness).

I personally see more and more people using OS X around me, but Linux is really getting there and Ubuntu already provides a very pleasant desktop environment to work in. I lately am finding out that quite a few people I’d have never expected to do anything geeky ever, are using Linux at home.

In the end people just need a browser on every platform they are using and they want it to work as seamlessly on all platforms as possible, but depending on the combination of hardware and OSes, the choice might get narrowed down a bit.

Considering that there aren’t too many browsers which are available on Linux, Mac OS X, Windows and BSD, browsers like Firefox and Opera might have an ace up their sleeve in this new growing cross-platform world. This is definitely also the reason for Mozilla coming up with Fennec

I personally prefer all the bookmarks to be in sync with all computers and platforms I use. With Firefox I get as close as possible to that target for now. And of course YMMV.

Comments

from monologue to dialogue

  • June 15, 2009 @ 20:21

    I will miss typing “gm” for gmail.com, and then hitting return to open the first recommended page. On Firefox I’ll have to hit TAB & RETURN

    Create a Gmail bookmark with 'gm' as keyboard and you'll be fine! :)

  • June 15, 2009 @ 21:00

    Yes, sure, but I’ll have to do that for all my thousands of bookmarks

    With Safari the first suggested bookmark is always one key closer to opening…