The world according to Sven-S. Porst
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When thinking about this post, gazillions of little things came to my mind. They are at most mildly interesting and I’m not really going to elaborate them as that’d take ages. Also, I feared my main point might be buried by them. So let me start with what I originally wanted to say:
David Hyatt, (one of) the guy(s) behind Safari, started work to make Safari pass some strange browser test. That’s great on a few levels: The test looks excellent – Not only does it check for all sorts of technical details, it looks nice at the same time. A browser’s compliance can easily be seen by looking at an image. This makes it easy to see that there is a problem and to see improvements.
And that’s exactly what Hyatt does, by posting descriptions of what he analyses and improves along with screenshots reflecting the changes he made, the progress is visible. That’s nice. And to me his writing seems very good as well: to the point and without being unappropriately humble or dismissive as people often seem to be in similar situations. It’s also good to see that there is progress and that advice is being sought. Although the latter point may of course backfire if people start dumping arbitrary Safari-related bug reports into the comments forms for very special technical points.
Right. That was what I wanted to say, now for the asides…
- Isn’t it brilliant to have a feed reader… I had almost forgotten about Hyatt’s page because he hadn’t written for ages. But NewsFire made sure I didn’t miss out on these.
- And isn’t our situation with web browsers much better today than it was before. People are starting to care for very special problems. And to solve them.
- Just look down the history lane of web browsers. Back in 1994 I first used Mosaic. And then Netscape came along which was hot. Then came pages which even contained images. Those were already unpopular back then, because even a small one would take ages to load when a whole university had a network connection much slower than a cheap DSL line these days. Then came Netscape 2. In those days I made a page with many photos (taken on a QuickTake even) and had to do a separate segmented version, so it could be loaded on computers with less memory… Afterwards came Netscape 3 and things started being a bit bloated and messy. Personally I stepped over to use Cyberdog and iCab (first ad filter!) sometime in the Netscape 4 era. And then used Internet Explorer 5 which was the first browser that made using (and understanding) CSS viable. At some stage I switched to Navigator/Chimera/Camino, the browser with increasingly worse names, and once it was available to Safari.
There are quite a few quirks in Safari, which I reported using the bug button, of course. But those probably aren’t read, so that may not help. Interestingly, my problems with Safari aren’t in the area of rendering but rather in the area of actually using the application. My top three are: [Note that the update to OS X.3.9, including an update to Safari 1.3 was released within hours of me writing this. It seems to address three of the points here. It has also crashed a few times, which I haven’t seen in Safari before.]
Ooops… more than three. What’s sad about these is that the problems have mostly been around forever. Since the beta version of Safari or since tabs were introduced. But as I said, they’re UI problems, not rendering ones.
- Speed: At some stage Safari started being slow. In particular it likes to spin the rainbow beachball of death for several second almost every time it loads a page. I don’t understand why that’s happening. And it doesn’t seem to happen everywhere. So it’s a tricky one. But it’s definitely happening here. And it’s extremely annoying as it really slows down surfing a lot if you can’t quickly move to wherever you want to go. Perhaps this was more related to auto-form filling to be active as Dave suggests? Or to PithHelmet? I’m not sure, but I’ll try out a couple of things.
- URL Completion: Safari completes URLs while you type them. I always found it to be quite good at that, better than other browsers. One obvious thing, however, it gets wrong: It only completes the URL after you typed a letter, not after deleting one. So if you want to come here and type
earht accientally, there will be no completion because of your typo. After hitting delete twice, Safari could probably offer quite a good completion already. But it won’t. You’ll have to typ the
- Tabs: They’ve got variable and changing widths. I can fully see the idea behind that. But it also means that you can’t quickly close a couple of them by repeatedly clicking at the same location and – even worse – that you can’t blindly switch to a different tab by clicking somewhere after just having closed another tab.
- Editing: Yawn. Still no Undo. And when using tabs while typing into a textarea, the textarea will always be scrolled to its very top if you switch to another tab and return to the original one.
- Address Bar: Still no good way to permanently hide the address bar. You can hide it, but all it takes to make it reappear permanently is pressing Command-L and then clicking a bookmark instead of typing an address. Of course, only hitting Command-Option-Ü should make the address bar reappear permanently.
Command-Option-Ü: Ah, umlauts for keyboard equivalents! And different keyboard equivalents for different user languages (rather than keyboard layouts, say). Clever…
Icon: As a bonus, my favourite Safari bug… When having a file selection element in a form (like in Apple’s bug reporter where they started forcing you to upload some system info recently which is quite a hassle if only because OS X’s file selection dialogues take an eternity to open) the file’s icon will appear upside down. While this one is harmless, I really wonder how it managed to go through testing.
Speaking about Apple’s bug reporter… they seem to have just made their web pages more sane. In particular they replaced the status ‘Analyse’ with ‘Open’ which I find much better. The first bug I ever reported, turned three recently. While it really should be fixed, at least the new terminology gives me some peace in that it doesn’t suggest somebody has been working at it for the past three years…
I started to add occasional reminders to that bug report. And I wanted to add one around its birthday. But I’ll wait until I get Tiger before doing that again… irrational hope or something.
While I thought about the history of web browsers, my history of e-mail applications (mail, Eudora, Cyberdog, Netscape, pine, Cyberdog, PowerMail, Mail) came to my mind.
Hmmm, more than enough digressions, I suppose.
April 16, 2005, 3:41
The super-slow page loads in the previous Safari version seemed to be tied to having Autofill turned on for “Other forms”. Whatever the root cause of this bug was appears to be fixed in Safari 1.3, because I now get equal pageload performance whether I have that option enabled or disabled.
April 18, 2005, 4:11
Interesting. I am seeing the slow loads (actually these are stalls of Safari with the spinning rainbow beachball of death) again now. And I’m still unable to say what causes them. I’ll have a look at that auto-fill option to be sure (which I couldn’t before because that preference had vanished on my system).
My other suspect would be PithHelmet. So I’m trying to use Safari without it for a while now… but thats so horrible. Eeek.
April 18, 2005, 17:41