Why would you ever use Safari?

Tim Bray is breaking up with Safari. Apparently the latest version of Safari is slow when you have many tabs open, especially if you’re also running OSX Lion. I say apparently because I’ve never used Safari for anything but testing, and so I can’t confirm or deny the claims. That said, whenever I use Safari, the browser strikes me as being limiting, like browsing the web wearing boxing gloves. There was no extension system (there is now, I know), the tabs had small hit targets, and the address bar featured an auto-complete system that just bugged me to no end. In the past I was an avid Firefox user, but when Chrome arrived, I switched and missed only Firefox’s “awesomebar”. Safari was never an option for me. I’ve always considered Safari as being Apples Internet Explorer, merely an afterthought because you need your own browser when you make an operating system. Put simply, I’ve never understood why anyone would use Safari as their browser of choice, when there are so many, in my mind superior, alternatives.

Let’s be clear, Chrome, Firefox, Opera and Safari are all good browsers where it matters. If you use either of those, I really have no beef with you. These are standards compliant, pretty secure browsers and they are not holding the web back. I’m not writing this because I want you to switch from Safari. If that’s your browser of choice, then you and I are friends.

Tim Bray is using multiple browsers, but it appears he’s currently using Chrome primarily. Both he and I expect Safaris issues to be resolved in a future update, at which point he’ll be switching back. Back to the browser with separate search and addressbars. Back to Safari, where http:// is still alive, and updates require a reboot. So long as Tim doesn’t switch to Internet Explorer 6, I’m one happy camper. But I’ll still be as confused as ever.

Responses to “Why would you ever use Safari?”

  1. Matthew says:

    There is an extension system.
    I use Safari simply because Chrome doesn’t feel right and Safari syncs my bookmarks across ALL devices.
    Safari was pretty bad on Lion initially but I’ve not had the reloading thing for a while now.

  2. Chrome simply doesn’t feel as solid as Safari. It’s a wierd wavy thing to say, but it seems to be the general perception. I can’t say for sure if it’s the way the lines for the tabs aren’t as strong as the ones in Safari, or if it’s the color of the UI or what it is, but it simply feels less solid, and less like a true OS X app. It’s much better than Firefox ever was, and I use it 90% of the time for my browsing, but there’s just something that isn’t right about it… And then stuff like the opening dashboard screen… It’s embarrassing sitting next to Safari’s beautiful top sites screen.

    Hand wavy arguments, but there you have it.

  3. I agree with Michael. Chrome feels like it’s going to break any time..

    I run both full time, and do most of my development work on Chrome (largely due to the fact that my Web Inspector in chrome sports the Solarized theme).

    One thing that I always find incredibly annoying with Chrome is that too often it will take over my keyboard, I bet it is related to it running Flash and some flash sites hijacking my tab behaviour.. but it results in annoying mouse use when i should be using the keyboard.

    Also, didn’t you just switch to the mac? ;)

  4. And then there’s the integration with Safari on iOS, syncing of bookmarks, and soon, reading lists.

  5. I’ve been switching back and forth between Safari and Chrome for quite some time. I wanted to use Chrome, but it makes me uneasy in some intangible way. It might be how many opened tabs look kind of silly and rather unfinished, or the way preferences open on the browser itself.

    But I can’t quite settle with Safari either, with an “address bar search” combo that is really showing its age — and I won’t install a SIMBL plugin.

    • Joen says:

      Michael Heilemann,

      I can’t say for sure if it’s the way the lines for the tabs aren’t as strong as the ones in Safari, or if it’s the color of the UI or what it is, but it simply feels less solid, and less like a true OS X app

      I think I actually get what you mean. As much as I don’t get Safari, there is a certain solid feel to it.

      And then stuff like the opening dashboard screen… It’s embarrassing sitting next to Safari’s beautiful top sites screen.

      That’s actually a matter of opinion though, that “top sites” screen in Safari makes me gag.

      And then there’s the integration with Safari on iOS, syncing of bookmarks, and soon, reading lists.

      Right. That’s actually the best argument I’ve heard yet. I get this one.

      josue salazar,

      I run both full time, and do most of my development work on Chrome (largely due to the fact that my Web Inspector in chrome sports the Solarized theme).

      How did you get the solarized color theme in the web inspector?

      I bet it is related to it running Flash and some flash sites hijacking my tab behaviour.. but it results in annoying mouse use when i should be using the keyboard.

      I feel compelled to let you all know that you can disable the built-in Flash Player in Chrome by visiting about:plugins. Even better, Chrome has a built-in “Click to play” feature you can enable by visiting about:flags (enable “Click to play”).

      Also, didn’t you just switch to the mac?

      Yup. Glad I was able to take Chrome with me :)

      Matías Ventura,

      or the way preferences open on the browser itself.

      Yeah, not a fan of those HTML based prefs pages. Not against HTML based settings pages per se, these are just badly built.

    • matthew says:

      But I can’t quite settle with Safari either, with an “address bar search” combo that is really showing its age — and I won’t install a SIMBL plugin.

      See Safari Omnibar ;) http://hicksdesign.co.uk/journal/safari-omnibar

  6. or the way preferences open on the browser itself.

    That’s another thing. I know Joen loves the web-app approach; but I much prefer if it would open a proper preferences window. You know, like all the other chickens…

  7. @Joen Chrome allows you to use a custom stylesheet overwriting inspector styles.
    I ported Solarized light: https://github.com/salazr/solarized-inspector

  8. That’s a SIMBL plugin…

  9. Zeppelin says:

    The thing I always loved about Safari is it’s incredible animation speed & capabilities. I’m using Chrome because it fits me better in the everyday use, but I must admit: there is no other browser even close to Safari’s extensive support for doing graphics/animation. (2D/3D transforms, animation w/ keyframes, etc)

    • Joen says:

      here is no other browser even close to Safari’s extensive support for doing graphics/animation. (2D/3D transforms, animation w/ keyframes, etc)

      Isn’t Chrome getting there, though?

      • Zeppelin says:

        Joen,

        Thankfully! :)

        I can’t really keep up with the frequent Chrome releases, so my point might be a bit inaccurate. Last time I developed this kind of stuff, Chrome stood no chance against Safari. If that has been changed since then, I’m the happiest person on earth.

        An also fortunate fact: no matter what’s the current state of this matter, I guess if someone is reluctant to give up his edge in graphics, it’s Apple.

  10. It’s getting much better, but that site is WebGL; for a long time Safari was the best browser in terms of CSS transitions and animations. It wasn’t until relatively recently that Chrome got proper 3D transforms for instance. Safari had that stuff for years.

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