On Safari…

No, unfortunately, not on Safari in Africa. On Apple’s Safari browser for Windows.

Seeing as Matthew wrote a few thoughts on it a couple of days ago, I decided to try it myself, so I’ve just downloaded and installed it.

I haven’t really used it much yet, but here are my first impressions:

It’s not really a cross-platform browser. This is evident from the fact that Apple haven’t used any of the Windows GUI… they’ve basically taken the Mac OS X GUI, and ported it directly across to Windows. I haven’t used OS X much so I don’t know if all the menus etc are the same, but they’ve even gone as far as porting across the font rendering! It’s like using OS X when you’re in Windows, it’s quite strange.

Now, I do like the OS X look and feel, but I’m not sure that using non-native widgets for Windows is always a good thing. For example, one of my favourite shortcuts on Windows is not available: pressing Ctrl + Backspace when you’re in a text box. This deletes the last word you wrote. You wouldn’t believe how many times I use that when writing a blog post! Unfortunately that is not available in Safari.

The dynamic resizing of text boxes is a nice feature, although it does has the potential to break pages. Not a biggie really.

For some reason, if you minimise the window and then restore it, it will resize itself. I believe this is what happens on Mac OS X – not sure if that’s the ideal behaviour though, it’s not expected if you’re a Windows user (there’s nothing to explain why your Window is being resized) and I fear it might be an annoyance if you’re used to windows staying the size that you set them to! Update: I think Safari restores itself to the non-maximised size. This is just annoying, especially if you previously resized the window (which you can only do, by the way, by dragging the bottom right-hand corner. None of this modern ‘drag any edge of the window’ rubbish) because you need to fit in another window which you don’t need anymore…

The page rendering seems pretty good in general. My site renders OK, and as that is the most important site on the internet then I’m happy 😉 I’ve just checked a site I’m working on at the moment (not as a designer, I’ll hasten to add), and for some reason Safari inserts scroll bars in the main body of the page where IE, Firefox and Opera don’t. That’s a bit strange, but probably easily fixable…

One thing I don’t like about Safari – and this is pretty nitpicky – is the text selection model. When you select text, the selection boundary is a little bit strange. Let me show you an example:

Browser text selection rendering

As you can see, Firefox neatly selects the text at its boundaries. Safari extends the text selection across the whole available area. This, to me, looks ugly! It’s really just personal preference, but still. The other thing to mention on text selection is, in keeping with the OS X look and feel, Safari ignores any Windows colour preferences you have re: text selection. Again, not a biggie, but another little thing which might be annoying or confusing for people used to Windows.

Another thing Safari doesn’t do which many Windows apps do is tooltips: if you hover your mouse pointer over the buttons at the top, there are no tooltips telling you what they do. On my screen at the moment, for example, next to the address bar is a button which looks like a spider or something. I have no idea what it does, because it has no tooltip. I could click on it, but I’d rather have an inkling of what it does first! Ditto with a button marked “+” next to it. I’m guessing that means “Add Bookmark”, but without tooltips I don’t know! It also doesn’t seem to popup “Title” tags in HTML… Firefox, Opera and IE do this.

The other thing to mention is speed. I haven’t noticed pages loading particularly faster than other browsers… it’s pretty responsive, but there’s not a massive speed increase over other browsers.

In summary, Safari is OK… I wouldn’t choose to use it though. Having said that, the Windows version is technically a beta so it’s probably a little unfair to review it. If you’re a Windows user, for now, and want something different then have a look at Safari. Otherwise, stick with Firefox or Opera – I think they currently deliver a better overall user experience (to coin a phrase…)


One response to “On Safari…”

  1. Even as a die-hard Mac user, I’d have to agree with you there Phill. Sure, Apple have done a fantastic job bringing Safari to Windows users, but there are an aweful lot of creases to iron out before it can realistically challenge the likes of Firefox and Opera for daily usage. While they do quote it as being faster, that really does depend what you’re doing and the spec of your machine as to whether it’ll be a noticeable speed difference. A fraction of a second faster isn’t likely to make much difference at the end of the day!

    I also hear what you say about the interface, and the lack of Windows compliance. Sure, it’s pretty and Mac-ish, but that look just doesn’t fit into the default Windows appearance, and those handy keyboard shortcuts that people will be used to will be sorely missed by some. Let’s hope Apple has plans to address these issues when the final release comes out…

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