on Safari and Camino

Posted by Pierre Igot in: Macintosh
March 13th, 2003 • 2:17 am

Interesting read at on browsers in general and Safari and Camino in particular:

Browser Innovation, Gecko and the Mozilla Project” by Mitchell Baker

Gives a good picture of the current situation, with Camino HAVING the upper-hand in “rendering real web pages” (according to him) and Safari being the leanest. I fail to see why Camino is still currently based on a version of Gecko that’s a year old, but then the development of Gecko-based browsers has been a very slow affair since the beginning.

Where I have more problems is with the author’s comments about “XUL” (Mozilla’s XML-based user interface language, if I understand correctly):

In some cases a XUL application has a “look and feel” very similar to that of an application written for a specific platform. For example, Mozilla’s Phoenix browser on Win XP looks and feels very much like a native application. A platform that has a set of highly distinctive elements may find XUL applications to have less than a completely native look and feel. But a number of platforms lack adequate market share to expect many platform specific, full-featured applications to be written for that platform, and XUL provides a way to enjoy applications written primarily for other platforms.

I simply do not perceive this as a realistic approach. One of the attractions of the Mac platform is the high level of attention to detail, and there is simply no way that a program that “feels very much like a native application” is going to cut it for me.

I guess the excuse of the market share means that we have little choice on this matter. But I seriously doubt that any application that is just “similar” to a Mac OS X application will ever satisfy a large number of Mac OS users.

Because the Windows interface is so inconsistent, both within Microsoft programs and between Microsoft programs and third-party programs, Windows users have a higher degree of tolerance for interface inconsistencies.

Granted, Apple has done its share of breaking its own interface guidelines lately, but on the whole the Mac OS X experience still feels much more consistent and “familiar”, whatever application you are using. I find that, whenever an application fails to meet certain standards in terms of UI, I simply end up not using it much.

One of the main attractions of Camino, for me, is precisely that it quite clearly embraces the Mac OS X UI. Netscape, on the other hand, is totally foreign to me and I cannot bring myself to using its proprietary controls, even with customized “themes”. I don’t want themes. I want a consistent interface.

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