Ars Technica Mac OS X Browser Smackdown

Wednesday August 27th, 2003

Several readers got in touch with news that PC enthusiast site Ars Technica is running a Mac OS X browser comparison, in which four of the nine featured programs are Mozilla-based applications. The Mozilla Application Suite 1.4, Mozilla Firebird 0.6.1, Camino 0.7 and Netscape 7.1 are pitted against Internet Explorer 5.2.3, Safari 1.0, OmniWeb 4.5, iCab 2.9.5 and Opera 6.0.2. The Mozilla-based browsers fare well, though the author of piece laments the slow pace of Camino development, saying that it "would be the best OS X browser if it had feature parity with the other Gecko-based browsers."

#1 Indeed, Camino 0.7 is /old/

by pnh

Wednesday August 27th, 2003 5:31 PM

For those not familiar with Camino the last "release" was 0.7 which is still based off the mozilla 1.0 branch. A lot has happened in the mean time including moving to the trunk, a new bookmarks manager (still in progress, full overhaul is almost in/in by 0.8), Search feature in toolbar and a bunch of other great features.

So if you're on OS X (or just have friends who are and you want to suggest something to them) I'd strongly suggest looking towards a recent nightly.

#2 Good overview

by jrobbio

Wednesday August 27th, 2003 5:37 PM

I must say the Mac users are far better than other at comparing even if the reviews conclusion is slightly dubious. They may feel that Firebird looks less like a port when it gets its new skin. Its worth looking at the discussion that follows it too.

#3 Good news!

by vramdal

Thursday August 28th, 2003 1:05 AM

This has to be good news for Mozilla. An independant test that shows that it is even faster than Safari, and with better standard compliance and rendering than all other browsers. Good suggestions for improvements, too. I believe Firebird / Camino is not far away from being the author's "Frankenbrowser".

#4 Intresting...

by janahan

Thursday August 28th, 2003 5:54 AM

The big, bloaty, kitchen sink, Mozilla, which was passed over by Apple in favour for KHTML, still manages to beat Safari. And this is not even taking into account Firebird which is faster yet.

Call me wrong, but once they start havign to finish off CSS1 / CSS2 support, its only goign to get worse for Safari.

on a side note, does anyone know where we can get "Raptor", the original prototype that became our fav browser?

#5 Re: Intresting...

by pbreit

Thursday August 28th, 2003 4:53 PM

No, Safari's performance should increase substantially as WebCore, etc. is tuned.

#9 Re: Re: Intresting...

by bzbarsky

Friday August 29th, 2003 12:56 PM

Quite frankly, it already _was_ tuned -- to produce the benchmarks on the Apple site. I strongly suggest you go give the webcore code a read.

#6 Am I the only one...

by adipose

Thursday August 28th, 2003 5:33 PM

...that noticed that Firebird wins in every single test (against Safari), and only has one "con," (that it doesn't have OS X look and feel), yet Safari still wins with "no contest" ahead of Firebird?

How can Safari render PNGs incorrectly, fail to support CSS1, always render slower (sometimes twice as slow), yet still win based solely on the "look and feel"?

I think the OS X look and feel is fairly important to have, and it should definitely be considered in ranking the browsers. But clearly, the auther of the article considers it the sole most important feature, if he's willing to give up proper PNG rendering and faster browsing times. Two of the "pros" for Safari are meaningless ("rapid adoption," "strong support") because they are begging the question: "Safari is the best because so many people think it is." When arguing the merits of the browser, we shouldn't focus on usage or "support" but on how far it has currently progressed.

I like Safari and hope it keeps growing and improving. But I find it annoying that after reading an article that clearly shows Firebird technically ahead of Safari, that Firebird is placed second simply because the author obviously likes Safari better. There isn't really any justifiable reason unless "look and feel" is more important than all the other considerations (speed, standard conformance, rendering accuracy).

If there are other reasons (such as load time of the application, etc.) these should have been mentioned to make the case. This is like showing a P4 beating an Athlon in 100% of the benchmarks and then concluding that the Athlon "wins" because it has a cooler sticker. Argh.


#7 Re: Am I the only one...

by pnh

Thursday August 28th, 2003 7:02 PM

Was said: If there are other reasons (such as load time of the application, etc.) these should have been mentioned to make the case. This is like showing a P4 beating an Athlon in 100% of the benchmarks and then concluding that the Athlon "wins" because it has a cooler sticker. Argh.

B*** S***. OS integration is a lot more then just a sticker. And there's a lot more to a browser then simply standards support (not that support is as bad as you make it sound in Safari either). By far Safari is the tightest of the bunch... only it and OW use the spell checker in forms, theres bookmark syncing/backup with .mac and other machines :: these items were mentioned. It also did better on (read: didn't crash) one or two sites the author liked to use which i'm sure also brought it up higher in his eyes.

Personally, if i were to find the article flawed in any way it would be that i didn't think the author spent enough time with *0.6.1* to notice how broke its ui still was on OS X and thus give it a lower score then its gecko brothers.

(and before anyone juumps on me.. i understand FB/OS X is new and i konw its UI has gotten a lot less broke since 0.6.1 but still sucked with that release)

#8 Look and Feel is important for Apple users

by abraham

Friday August 29th, 2003 4:12 AM

The consistent GUI has always been one of the strongest selling point for the Mac, so I don't think it is surprising that counts for so much. And while gecko is better on all technical points, it is not devatingly better than Safari.

Rapid adaption and strong support are important as they mean you will be unlikely to have to learn to master a new browser in the foreseable future. Not everybody believes learning to use new tools is fun.