Do It Better, Make It Faster

Apple released Safari 3 for Windows and Mac a couple weeks ago, and of course as the early-adopter that I am, I was trying to download it before it was even actually available. I’ve been using it for the last weeks, and I’d like to boast and bitch about some of the features and misses that Apple seems to have missed.

The first thing that I noticed about Safari 3 is that they still haven’t fixed some of the bogus behavior that is present in Safari 2: the behavior of tabs. They have a preference that is selectable to make links that are clicked from other applications open in a new tab instead of a new widow, but any random site can create a new window by using the target=”top” or target=”new” tags to links. This can’t be a hard fix (there may be a way to do it in Mac Safari), but it is a major usability oversight in my opinion. At the very least, I would like to be able to ignore the targets that make a new window.

One of the biggest jarring things about moving from Firefox, my normal browser, to Safari for a couple of weeks, is that there is no Adblock Plus extension - meaning I see all of the ads that I would normally have completely blocked out. Some ads aren’t horribly bad, and I have even clicked on a few and learned something about a product or service I didn’t know about before that was actually useful. Unsurprising to me that almost all the ads that I ended up following were Google Adsense ads. Unfortunately, most of the ads on the web aren’t simple ads that just advertise, but they get in your face and flash and sometimes even make sounds that are unwanted. Most of the annoying ads are Flash ads - I feel like if I could only selectively run flash, the ads would be fine. They are highly annoying, and possibly the sole reason that I will be switching back to Firefox after this.

However, it is not all bad - Safari lives up to the advertising on it’s page. It is easily the fastest rendering browser that I have ever used, and I have used almost all of them. The speed is nice, and it’s something I need to get used to not having. It makes the web fast again, like it was before all of the new-fangled stuff. It is also pretty quick on startup, but I think that pre-loaded IE is faster on windows at least. The other good thing about it is it brings good font rendering to windows. I’ve been working on my Mac for a while now, and I’ve gotten used to the fonts that some people call “fuzzy”, and I actually prefer them that way. Working in windows is hard when I’m trying to squint through ClearType’s bad font hinting that makes reading a pain. The inline search is also fairly clean and nice with the animations. It is something I would gladly be happy with in Firefox.

The good isn’t enough to outweigh the bad, however, so it’s back tox Firefox (and iceweasel) for me.