Sunday, June 20, 2010

Safari 5


Today we will take a look at the new Safari 5 Web Browser from Apple. It was released on June 7th just hours after the Mac World Developers Conference Keynote had wrapped up. The Safari 5 update is also included in the OS X 10.6.4 update that was released on June 15th.
Safari 5 is not a significant change from Safari 4 only adding a few new features. The first big feature is Safari Reader which allows you to click the Reader button in the address bar to strip out ads and put articles that are spanned across multiple pages on a single page. This is a great feature for users to make large articles more easily readable although I imagine advertisers won’t care for it too much.
Safari 5 has added additional support for HTML5 making it the most HTML5 compliant browser and the only browser that is fully ACID3 compliant. The new Nitro JavaScript Engine makes Safari faster than the previous version. Safari and Google Chrome are close to one another in performance followed by Firefox and of course the slowest of main stream web browsers is Internet Explorer.
Safari has added Bing to the list of browsers you can select for your default search in the toolbar. Smarter searching in the address bar was added so if you type any word that appears in an address or in the title of the site that is in your history or bookmarks it is displayed in a drop down for you to select. Safari has also added a new feature under tabs that allows you to decide if you want to open pages in tabs Always, Automatically or Never. Opening in a tab always or never is pretty self explanatory the Automatically however was a little less clear. According to the Safari Help files the Automatic setting will open all windows in a new tab unless that windows is formatted to open in a separate window.
The biggest feature will take sometime for us to start seeing in the Safari 5. Safari 5 now includes Extensions. The Extensions are signed and Sandboxed to protect your computer data from access and the signatures assure you that the extension came from a specific developer. Apple plans to open a gallery later this summer with developers extensions available for people to customize their browsers.
Currently the functionality is a bit hidden, first you must click Safari, Preferences, Advanced, and check the Show Develop menu in menu bar. Once you have done that click Develop in the menu bar and choose Enable Extensions. Once you have done that the Extensions button appears in the Preferences Pane.
Signing up to be part of the Safari Extension Developers program is free and each developer gets a digital certificate so we can be sure the code hasn’t been tampered with and comes from the developer who signed the code.
A couple other cool new features includes right clicking on the title bar text will give you a look back at the pages you visited in that particular tab and allow you to select one of the previous pages to jump back to it. The other improved feature of Safari is the improved web inspector that now includes timelines. This shows someone who is testing a web page or a developer who is writing a web page when HTML or Java Script is being rendered and how long it takes in a graphical format so you can really see what your pages are doing and what order they are rendering in.
The new version of Webkit 2 hasn’t been included in Safari yet as apparently they do not feel it is ready for prime time yet. It should be coming in the future providing even faster rendering a splitting the webkit process from the web processes to allow faster and more secure execution of code. This is what allows Google Chrome to give each tab its own process and one tab crashing doesn’t impact any of the others.
Overall the new browser is fast, stable and seems to do a good job rendering content. I can’t wait to see what developers come up with in the way of extensions to enhance the Safari browsing experience.