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Next OmniWeb to be based on Safari Engine? 131

Posted by pudge
from the i-want-an-open-source-tabbing-engine dept.
An anonymous reader writes "A MacFixIt article includes a quote from the Omni Group's CEO Ken Case: 'The wonderful news for OmniWeb is that Apple has based it on a fast, compatible (and small!) rendering engine which is tuned for Mac OS X, and which they are making available to the entire Mac OS X development community! [...] This means that we may be able to reach our compatibility and speed goals for OmniWeb much more quickly than when we were working alone, and then return our focus to doing what we do best: providing a rich browsing experience. Thank you, Apple!'"
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Next OmniWeb to be based on Safari Engine?

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  • by mithran8 (186371) on Wednesday January 08, 2003 @06:59PM (#5043299) Homepage
    The one response you'd never expect from a commercial company that was just (superficially) trumped by a platform vendor: Gratitude. Kudos to Mr. Case for recognizing the long term potential and not griping about 'being cut off at the knees' or other shortsighted objections.
  • by fidget42 (538823) on Wednesday January 08, 2003 @07:14PM (#5043422)

    I would think Omni would wait until a more stable (non-beta) release is produced before changing its own browser's direction.


    I've played with Safari and the biggest "Beta" issue that I have noticed is in the supporting features. The cookie management is rather crude (all/none/self are the only choices), but it does an excellent (and FAST) job of rendering pages. I would love to have my copy of OmniWeb be based on this code.
  • by grahamtriggs (572707) on Wednesday January 08, 2003 @07:20PM (#5043477)
    Actually, the open source status (or more accurately, not) of the internet explorer code is rather irrelevant to the development of windows browsers...

    The rendering engine in IE is a component - you can embed it into other applications... theoretically at least, you can build your own rich browsing experience around it as you see fit (as evidenced by the MSN browser vs. IE)... exactly what hooks are available to you, and therefore how rich an experience you can create, I am not familiar with...

    The 'big issue' with IE source is not one of how you can re-use the layout engine, but one of not being able to fix any bugs that exist, or to extend it's basic functionality (ie. more complete implementation of standards).
  • by styrotech (136124) on Wednesday January 08, 2003 @08:04PM (#5043777)
    Actually, OSX was already shipping with a 'full featured' browser. Now it will drop IE and will ship with a stripped down 'less featured' browser (still a pretty good one though by the sounds of it).

    I would've thought that by itself (ie greater incentive for the user to install a 3rd party browser) would be a blessing for Omniweb - hardly being cut off at the knees.
  • by jd10131 (46301) <james@Nospam.emdata.net> on Wednesday January 08, 2003 @08:40PM (#5043947) Homepage

    The Apple UI guidelines specifically disagree with you. Each button on a dialog is supposed to be a verb. Here [apple.com] is a page talking about it...

    If you think about it, this makes sense. Imagine a dialog that says "You are using an outdated version of this program, do you wish to continue?" and "You are using an outdated version of this program, do you wish to exit?" If the buttons are labelled Yes/No/Cancel, I need to read the dialog carefully. If buttons are labelled "Continue" and "Exit" I am less likely to select the wrong button.

    There are altogether too many times when I've triggered some Yes/No/Cancel dialog in Windows, I don't read the text carefully because I'm in a hurry, and I click 'Yes'.

  • by Graff (532189) on Wednesday January 08, 2003 @09:02PM (#5044063)
    It's rather microsoftish. For example: Your preferences have changed. Would you like to restart to use your new preferences: [OK] [CANCEL].

    If you notice, all of the dialog box buttons in MacOS have verbs (action words) on them. Buttons are never specifically answers to questions, but are rather the action which will be taken when you click on them. For example, a traditional dialog box would say:
    Your preferences have changed. Would you like to restart to use your new preferences?

    [OK] [Cancel]

    The proper MacOS dialog box would be something like this:
    Your preferences have changed. Would you like to restart to use your new preferences?

    [Continue] [Restart]

    The traditional dialog box does not actually tell you what is going on when you press the button and it is easily confused with other dialog boxes that may be the same size, look the same, and have the same answers. For example, the following two dialogs could be confused and someone could accidently hit the wrong button thinking it was the dialog they expected:
    Should I feed the fish?


    [Yes] [No]

    Should I eat the fish?


    [Yes] [No]

    A better set of buttons would be like this:
    Should I feed the fish?


    [Cancel] [Feed]

    Should I eat the fish?


    [Cancel] [Eat]

    There is very little confusion there as to what action will be taken. Hit the [Feed] button and the fish gets fed, hit the [Eat] button and the fish gets eaten.
  • by EccentricAnomaly (451326) on Wednesday January 08, 2003 @09:04PM (#5044071) Homepage
    Omniweb uses Objective-C and Cocoa. A main benefit of Objective-C is supposed to be that the code is modular and switching out objects is easy.

    From my limited experience with Objective-C, I don't think switching renedring engines will be that big a deal for Omniweb.
  • Re:Errr... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Phexro (9814) on Wednesday January 08, 2003 @09:14PM (#5044125)
    "OmniGroup is excited because Apple has given the OS X developer community a solid, fast, and very (though not yet perfectly) compliant HTML component."

    Well, uh, KHTML is already under the GPL. Shouldn't these guys be thanking the KDE Project for writing the code in the first place?

    In fact, since Apple based WebCore/JavaScriptCore off GPL code, they must make the code public. I'm not so sure that they would have released the code back to the community if it was under a BSD-style license.

    Don't get me wrong - I think it's great when corporations enhance existing FOSS projects. I just think that the gratitude is misplaced in this instance.
  • Re:Errr... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Twirlip of the Mists (615030) <twirlipofthemists@yahoo.com> on Wednesday January 08, 2003 @09:24PM (#5044165)
    Well, uh, KHTML is already under the GPL. Shouldn't these guys be thanking the KDE Project for writing the code in the first place?

    Sure, appreciation all around. But from OmniGroup's perspective, what Apple did was more significant. (Not more important, not better, just literally more significant.) Apple removed the dependency on Qt and created an Objective C API for KHTML. That was a ton of work, not to be underestimated. Without it, KHTML wouldn't have been of any use to any Mac developer.

    In fact, since Apple based WebCore/JavaScriptCore off GPL code...

    Let's be precise. KHTML and KJS (and by extension WebCore and JavaScriptCore) are LGPL, not GPL. This is an important distinction. If either of those components had been GPL only, Apple would not have been able to use them.
  • Re:WebCore (Score:4, Insightful)

    by King Babar (19862) on Thursday January 09, 2003 @12:46AM (#5045067) Homepage
    Now all I have to do is convince them that the lack of type-ahead-links and type-ahead-find in web pages are truly important shortcomings in Safari
    What are those? I'm not familiar with those features.

    You get these in Mozilla. Imagine you're looking at www.yahoo.com. There are hundreds of links, and you can visually scan them easily. Now to choose the one you are looking at...you have to take your hand off the keyboard, and hit a relatively tiny link with something shaped too much like a hockey puck. Or you could just type some of the text in the link, and have Mozilla highlight it for you, hit return, and the browser will follow the link. This might sound weird, but I insist that you try it in a recent version of Mozilla. Once you've seen the light, you don't want to go back. It's that good. Notice that unless a text widget or the location bar has the focus, typing text does nothing usually, so doing so is (I think) a fairly intuitive act. Type ahead find in the page is...perhaps less intuitive unless you're a vi or "less" (the pager) junky. If you type /perfect (with the slash), you're asking Mozilla to find the text "perfect" anywhere in the page and go there. That's a micro-optimization of cmd-f, really. I like it, but it doesn't ruin my life not to have it.

    I'm afraid that tabs might be beyond their UI guidelines.

    There's an extremely active discussion going on over in the Apple support forum about how-- if at all-- to implement a multiple document interface for Safari. There seem to be three camps on the issue: 1) Tabs are absolutely essential for browsing, and not including them is stupid. b) Tabs are bad and wrong, but some kind of multiple-document interface would be a good idea. iii) The best way to browse the web is with the good old single-document interface paradigm: one web page, one window.

    OK, so I suppose it's possible that there is a better UI notion than tabs waiting to be discoverd to do multiple-document interfaces, but choice iii is just insane. Look, if tabs bother you, then I guess you don't like multiple links on a web page either. In my mind, it's basically the same kind of thing; you want to see where you're likely to want to go and be able to make it happen with a minimum of fuss. Sure, I could cmd-~ my life away through a bunch of windows, but since most of them would be hidden, I can't easily tell what is there. With a row of tabs, I can just see everything in my working set, and then select a tab to go there (just like hitting a link in spirit). A secondary nice thing about tabs is that I personally use them to organize my browsing. Often, I have one window full of tabs that point to results of various BLAST searches on NCBI, another window with tabs that point to my course web pages and stuff like that, and third window that has stuff like, well, slashdot on it. Easy to go from window to window, and then from tab to tab; voila, my very own hierarchical web interface and no hands ever leave the keyboard. :-)

    Myself, I fall somewhere between b and iii. I think a multiple-document interface for browsing is a dumb idea-- once you look past the superficial details of how to arrange the widgets on screen, you run into a whole assload of inconsistencies and irregularities in the paradigm

    Look at Mozilla, or even the Apple home page that *explicitly* uses tabs as the navigational metaphor. The Apple home page looked weird for about 30 seconds, but then my only complaint was that the tabs were just a fakey image hack.

    but I think so many people are clamoring for it that it makes sense to try to make it work. But I wouldn't vote for a MDI that's anything less than absolutely perfect. Better not to use MDI at all, even as an option, than to implement it in a bad or illogical way.

    Well, sure, a bad implementation would suck. :-) But I really don't want to get into a situation where the perfect is the enemy of the good. There are some issues with the current Mozilla tab interface (cntrl-page_up to cycle through them is not a terrific choice), but I'd fix the obvious problems and put it in as an option in the Beta. They would get feedback on the feature, and I'd be surprised if it were less than strongly supportive.

  • Re:Errr... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Twirlip of the Mists (615030) <twirlipofthemists@yahoo.com> on Thursday January 09, 2003 @12:50AM (#5045087)
    Depends.

    WebCore.framework and JavaScriptCore.framework work like DSO's or DLL's, if that means anything to you. The difference is that a framework can be bundled inside an application or available externally. If you look in /System/Library/Frameworks, you'll find stuff like AppKit.framework, which every application on your computer (Cocoa, anyway) links to at run time. If Apple puts WebCore and JavaScriptCore (and maybe WebKit) in the operating system-- in other words, puts them in /System/Library/Frameworks in a future version of OS X-- then programs like OmniWeb will be able to link to them at run time. Future improvements to those frameworks will apply to those programs automatically.

    But as of right now, WebCore and the others aren't part of the OS. They're bundled right inside Safari. If Apple decides to leave them out of the OS, then OmniGroup will still be able to use them, but they'll have to distribute the frameworks inside of the OmniWeb package. In that case, updates to the frameworks would have to go from Apple to OmniGroup to the user.

    I imagine Apple is going to make WebCore et al. part of the operating system real soon. It's just too darned useful; even apps like Project Builder need to be able to parse HTML to display documentation and whatnot. The million-dollar question is whether they're going to do the same thing with WebKit. If so, expect to see about a hundred special-purpose Cocoa web browsers for OS X in the first week after release. It'll be so easy to write your own web browser, what with PB and IB and all, that you'll hardly be able to avoid it! ;-)
  • Re:Errr... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by BitGeek (19506) on Thursday January 09, 2003 @03:15AM (#5045569) Homepage
    I'm not so sure that they would have released the code back to the community if it was under a BSD-style license.


    Well, that's a silly concern since they realeased their commercial operating system even though it wasn't under the BSD license- it was owned by them free and clear.

    How soon people forget that Apple is the first, and so far, only company to open source its commercial operating system.

    And not only does it help scores of open source projects around the world (as well as make use of them- after all that is the POINT of open source) but it does work to make it so that people who want to can run completely Open software on their platform more easily without paying apple any money,-- by supporting X11, and other stuff they don't ahve to that goes against their bread and butter OS sales.

    Gee, I wonder why. They sure are GREEDY those bastards!

    And yet all you Open source self-proclaimed advocates still hate them. could it be that you really don't care bout open source so much as you love linux? (Not bashing you, Phexro, just the broader group that irrationally hates apple becuase it "doesnt support open source.")
  • by ealar dlanvuli (523604) <froggie6@mchsi.com> on Thursday January 09, 2003 @05:17AM (#5045813) Homepage
    Well if it's small fast light and renders everything correctly, who cares? Now you have a small fast and light browser filling all your needs.

    The point of a browser is to browse, not deal with the browser.
  • Re:WebCore (Score:3, Insightful)

    by gig (78408) on Thursday January 09, 2003 @07:20AM (#5046027)
    Safari has a number of UI elements that replace tabs. Snapback in the address field and search fields takes you back to where you started surfing. You can also drag links to the Bookmark bar and then drag them off again easily, like a little shelf. The little book icon on the left of the Bookmark bar switches the window to a view of your Bookmarks and History, like lifting up a page to look at a TOC. Plus, it is FAST. I find myself just surfing rather than opening up a bunch of windows because pages appear instantly.

    Also, the menubar is pervasive, so the History and Bookmarks menus are right there all the time in the same place. Safari also shows the URL's in your Address Book in the Bookmarks menu, so even without tabs, you find yourself having lots of clickable links right away, and plenty of room to put more.

    It's a great browser.
  • by Graff (532189) on Thursday January 09, 2003 @10:48AM (#5047021)
    The one I HATE in wondows is when they change the save action on you.

    Exactly. If the options had been [Don't Save] [Save] then there would be very little confusion about what action is going to be taken.

    One other cool idea in human interface design is to make the least destructive action the default action in any "dangerous" dialog box. For example:
    Erase entire hard drive?

    [[Cancel]] [Erase]

    Yeah, it's a little pain to not have the [Erase] button highlighted automatically, but it's worth the safeguard considering you are talking about the potential loss of all of your data.

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