I’m Through With Safari

no safari

Starting tomorrow, I am recommending that all Mac users run Camino or Firefox instead of Safari. It seems that the default Mac browser does not follow standards that much of the rest of the web world subscribes to, disabling useful functions in many critical web applications. And if only the user feedback were meaningful. Blackbaud Faculty Access for the Web times out with Safari. Moodle (or any web app using TinyMCE) doesn’t display the text formatting buttons. I don’t know what exactly the development team got wrong, but this browser is just not useful in a multiplatform world. Does anyone else know what happened at Apple?

11 comments

  1. ben casnocha says:

    Firefox has more extensions than Camino. I haven’t found Camino’s speed to be worth the lack of extensions

  2. Ben says:

    Huzzah! Another convert! I used Safari for all of a week after getting my Mac two years ago, before dumping it for Firefox. Safari is probably the biggest letdown of the Mac OSX generation of applications. A shame too, as it has become relegated to the bottom of the leap along with Mac IE, a program that doesn’t even deserve to grace anyone’s Dock.

  3. rkassissieh says:

    I don’t use browser extensions for some reason. It seems like something I can live without. The boxy Firefox interface really bugs me.

    Too bad we have to transition users from the default browser. It doesn’t make much sense that things have turned out this way. Surprisingly to me, ordinary users take the switch completely in stride, remarking that it all seems the same to them.

  4. Ben says:

    Try a couple of extensions like Forecast Fox or the newly created Pacman extension and you may find yourself hooked. I personally enjoy some of the Feed Reader extensions that allow me to scroll recent RSS feeds that I subscribe to along the status bar.

  5. rkassissieh says:

    In typical Mac fashion, I tend to run different services as separate apps, so my browser ends up just being my browser. We’ll see, though.

  6. Tim says:

    I agree, I think Firefox has taken the wind of the sails of IE and Safari development teams as both have been real static. I love Camino. I never have used extensions. Camitools has been great but the Flashblock cumbersome (uses css whitesheet for exceptions).

    What has been useful as that Camino and Firefox can use the same ttweaks for the most part in the config page though.

  7. James says:

    Hey Richard,

    I think you’re way off base with your comments. Safari is one of the most standards compliant browsers out there. If you find sites that don’t support Safari, it’s likely that it’s the fact that _they_ aren’t supporting standards, are are using non-standard extensions. The <a href=\’http://www.webkit.org‘>Safari/Webkit</a> team has worked tirelessly to make the browser as compliant as possible, and are continuing to work to support non-standard extensions such as those required by TinyMCE.

    Instead of telling people not to use Safari, you should be encouraging web-site authors to support open standards.

    Encouraging a move away from a minority browser such as Safari, rather than making the world a more compatible place, makes it less compatible: with a less-diverse browser landscape, site authors have less motivation to write broadly compatible code: witness the last 6 years of IE domination, from which we are only now beginning to retreat (due to the success of FireFox and Safari) and the very detrimental affect that domination had on web-site standards (BlackBaud’s troubles are only one of many lingering effects of their team’s focus on IE at the expense of standards).

    By arguing for a move away from Safari you’re falling into the trap of many short-sighted web developers over the years who said "oh, it doesn’t work on that brower? well, it works on IE, so just use that." We see how much good that did us!

  8. rkassissieh says:

    Okay, so Safari may be extremely standards compliant. Thank you for the correction. However, holding the line for standards works fine until you are marching completely to your own drummer! So what did Firefox do right that Safari did wrong? Are their developers faster than the Safari developers, or is supporting the most commonly-used WYSIWYG editor in web-based software a low priority for them? I have real users who need to run these applications, and letting them each trip over Safari seems counter-productive.

  9. James says:

    I know more about the TinyMCE issue than the blackbaud issue, so I’ll speak to that. TinyMCE uses a non-standard extension (content editable) that originated in IE. FireFox picked it up, and Safari actually did too in version 2.0, though their implementation may not be as mature. (With a non-standard extension, there are often not well-written standards by which to judge compliance, or by which authors, such as those of TinyMCE, can code against).

    I’d encourage you to get the latest Safari/WebKit builds from the webkit.org site, and test with them. And file compliance bugs on that site for sites that don’t work: they’re working very hard to resolve issues (whatever the source) where sites don’t work. I’m sure that the TinyMCE issue is probably logged already. (http://bugs.webkit.org/show…).

    It’s interesting to note in that bug report that when the Safari guys point to other editors that work fine with Safari, the TinyMCE author falls back on the "small market share" argument 😉 In any event, the large majority of bugs referenced in that report are closed as fixed in the latest WebKit build of Safari: I don’t think you can claim by any means that the Safari team doesn’t take compatibility seriously.

  10. James says:

    A quick followup: the bug report referenced above marks many bugs closed due to bugs fixed in later developer versions of TinyMCE. For broadest compatibility, you’ll probably want to make sure you get the latest version available, perhaps even a non-offcial release.

  11. rkassissieh says:

    That would be fun for the sake of investigation, but I’m not rolling out a nightly build into a production environment! Good to know the background behind the issues, though.