June 11, 2007

Safari on Windows

Wow. Safari 3 for Windows public beta (oh yeah, there's a Mac version, too). Read on for some background, tips, discoveries and caveats...

Beyond the stated desire to increase Safari's market share, a Windows version of Safari (XP/Vista) allows for better support of Safari users by Windows web developers. However, the real driver may be that iPhone application development is supported via ajax-y applications sitting on top of the iPhone's embedded Safari engine.

Safari users will see improvements in performance and compatibility, enhanced tabbed browsing with cool tear-away tabs, a new inline find function and the much welcomed resizable text area a la Netscape 9.

Notes/Caveats Win:

- The Safari 3 beta offers many fixes and improvements over the current Safari 2.x release -- you can't test your layouts and especially dhtml on Safari 3b with absolute confidence that your Safari 2.x users are covered; for that, you'll still need access to a Mac.

- Safari seeks out and uses plug-ins from other browser installations. If you want to test Flash degradation, you'll have to remove ALL your Flash Netscape-style plug-ins.

- Safari comes with two embedded TrueType fonts: Lucida Grande and Lucida Grande Bold; these are available for use in your designs if you are so inclined.

- Windows developers should check out the Activity Window, which shows your page objects in a collapsible list view. Double-clicking an object listing opens that object in a new browser window; control-clicking downloads it. The list shows object file sizes and is updated in real-time; leave it open and browse a page or two to see this in action. I often use this as a diagnostic tool and shortcut to access scripts, css and swf files for testing and version checking.

- Safari for Windows isn't (yet) a 'Good Windows Citizen' in that dialogs and window resizing do not work or present as expected. I suspect the final version will be at least as good a citizen as today's iTunes, but if you hate the look of Win iTunes, you'll have trouble warming up to Safari.

Notes/Caveats Mac:

- The Mac installer overwrites Safari 2.x w/o warning. While there's an uninstaller for recovery, it would have been best if Apple allowed both Safari 2.x and 3b to coexist -- what goes for Windows developers and Safari 2.x testing goes for you, too. To maintain compatibility but still be able to play with the latest rendering engine, get acquainted with Webkit, the open source browser engine used by the new Safari beta.

- Webkit's Web Inspector is present on the Mac but not the Windows beta; to use, context-click on a web page object and select Inspect Element. Maybe this will show up in a later Win beta.

- Kasper Nauwelaerts' free Safari Tidy plug-in and Les Nie's Safari WebDevAdditions are disabled in Safari 3.0b. Hopefully the developers will soon release compatible versions.

Posted by Lewis Francis at June 11, 2007 7:58 PM

Ah! I see someone has already sussed out how to enable the debug menu in the Windows version of Safari.

Posted by: Lewis Francis at June 11, 2007 10:51 PM

John Gruber [Daring Fireball] in his WWDC 2007 keynote coverage thinks a Windows port of Safari is mostly about money -- the money Apple gets from driving search traffic to Google. Interesting argument, somewhat bizzarre yet oddly satisfying.

Posted by: Lewis Francis at June 12, 2007 10:20 PM

Haven't had a chance to try yet, but Thomas Aylott purports to show a way to have both Safari 3b and Safari 2.x on the same Mac cleverly leveraging a copy of Webkit.

Posted by: Lewis Francis at June 14, 2007 9:55 AM

Thomas' shell scripts make short work of this -- I now have working copies of Safari 3 beta, Safari 2.0.4 in Webkit, and a Rosetta version of Safari 2.0.4, also in Webkit (I use this for testing non-native plug-ins like Flash Player < v9), and so far everything seems kosher. Thanks Thomas!

Posted by: Lewis Francis at June 15, 2007 9:59 PM

NOTE: If you haven't already enabled Safari's Debug Menu, you'll need to do so in order to expose the Web Inspector.

Posted by: Lewis Francis at June 16, 2007 7:55 PM

Pie chart download progress indicator option in Safari 3 [via Daring Fireball]

Posted by: Lewis Francis at June 19, 2007 9:31 AM
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