Safari 3.0: Still Missing Features

 

Finally got Safari 3.0 loaded. Let’s cover the good so far. I am on a Mac so I can’t speak of the PC experience but it does seem faster. It took a long time for its first load and I was worried as it was doing some background chugging for a long time but now, it’s now fast and pretty stable – no obvious problems. Okay, one, there are some browser windows that once open refuses to close via CLOSE or clicking in the red button – it does close on QUIT though. The first big notice is java improvements – WORDPRESS’s blogging tools finally mostly loads correctly.

Some people were pointing out there were now TABS but if you were running TIGER and Safari 2.x, we’ve had tabs for a while but Safari is still not up to Firefox par yet. Here are my reasons – it is subjective as none of these are death – just not quite the best browsing experience … 

WHAT STILL NEEDS TO BE FIXED 

1) The “Drive Does Not Qualify” installation warning is one of the few really poor Apple interface error issues. As others noted in the comments and I resolved by reading the forum, it wouldn’t initially install on my machine because I had moved Safari from the APPLICATIONS folder. As someone who has a few hundred (if not more) apps on my machine, of course, I had to better organize my apps with folders – I find it hard to believe that Apple designs SPOTLIGHT which can search through anything … but yet the Apple Installer cannot find ONE GIANT app called Safari in a folder called INTERNET APPS? What’s doubly surprising is that the warning is so badly written – instead of plainly saying, move Safari back to install this update, “drive does not qualify” is incorrect on so many levels. VERY UN-APPLE.    

2) Firefox’s PRIVACY settings are perfect for me. It erases everything when I quit Firefox but keeps a database of my passwords (which are also password protected). With broadband, the only cache I need is a temporary one while I’m at the site. I don’t HISTORY tracking, I can just search in Google if I forget to bookmark a site and while every site places a cookie, I just prefer to wipe the cookie file clean after every quit of Firefox without me having to manually clean it everytime. Safari sort of offers this feature …  

 

The problem is PRIVATE BROWSING which essentially will clear the cache, history and cookies when you quit has to be MANUALLY set every day! Again, very un-Apple like not to have a setting that does “stick” and you have to be the one to remember to do it everytime. How annoying would a major app be if it didn’t have preferences? That’s exactly what it’s like here.Of course, if you don’t mind keeping a history, cache and cookie’s history for websites to take a peek at, that’s your call. I don’t mind letting them know I’m there and where I go when I’m at their site right now but I’m not going to personally tag myself so they know exactly who I am when I return.

In the PREFERENCES>GENERAL, you can set HISTORY to 1 day. 

(In Safari, your passwords are saved if you click YES in AUTOFILL even if you select PRIVATE BROWSING) 

  

3) The PASSWORD “MANAGER” is built for casual browsing and not very powerful. In Firefox, your ‘saved’ passwords are only accessible after you enter another password. In Safari, they are NOT visible at all – which is fine if you only surf to a few sites. (When you click EDIT, it brings up a new window with the url and your sign-in name but not your password visible).As you know now, most major sites require a login – I probably have a few hundred sites with logins listed in mine and invariably, you are going to run into a site where you might have more than one account (like Yahoo or GMail) (Firefox will wait until you key you a sign-in name and then autofill the password), on occasion, you make a mistake and hit YES REMEMBER this sign-in setting.With Firefox, you can go through and delete the incorrect ones because you know which passwords are incorrect but in Safari, your only choice is to guess or DELETE all and start over since you cannot see which might be the wrong password. Again, it’s not horrible but just surprisingly not very powerful. 

4)  CAN I HAS SOME FREAKIN’ LINES? Again, Safari designers seem to think we all have about 25 bookmarks so why would we need line “separators,” after all, you could just put them in a folder? Even if you have 10 bookmarks, it’s much clearer visually to be able to place a line as a break … PLEASE, add that feature.Yes, you can ‘fake’ but by creating a ‘new’ bookmark and naming it with bullet points or dashes but the problem is unlike Firefox where a line is a line and NOT ACTIVE, Safari will attempt to open your ‘blank’ bullet point or dashed url as if it’s a real working url – ANNOYING.

CAN I HAS SOME FREAKIN’ LINES?

5) Related to that is the SHOW ALL FOLDERS WIDE, WIDE OPEN VIEW that seems to be a permanent setting in Safari’s bookmarks. So, if you’re like me who has about 1,000 bookmarks and about 100 folders, Firefox thoughtfully keeps them closed during a scroll down until I get to the folder I want and then it “springs” open … In Safari, it is the most annoying and esthetically unpleasing choice of all – as you scroll through the bookmarks, all the folders are always permanently open several layers deep so if I want to bookmark something in my last set of folders, I literally have to scroll through 99 folders. WTH?

Again, 10 bookmarks, it’s fine or if you have a few folders, I could see where a newbie might wonder where things are but it’s time to upgrade the folder views from IE 1.5 to something more closely resembling the 21st century for power users.

 

6) It would be nice to have the Bookmark Manager as a popup window versus inline. Yes, you can open it as a sidebar but I’d much rather be able to open in its own separate window so I can keep both active instead of having to switch from one to the other (or open two windows with one as my bookmarks). Above is Firefox’s popup bookmark manager. 

  

7)  It’s also time to retire this hokey feature which is also amazingly un-Apple like – the DEFAULT WEB BROWSER setting (it’s also in MAIL). While it’s not as onerous as the MS versions, it is still fairly bizarre to have the setting HERE. I understand you want a main app assigned to open HTML files or “launch browser” links but this is just about the most ineloquent way of asking people to choose. It should NOT be stored here – it should be a question asked on the first launch and then in SYSTEM PREFERENCES, not embedded in the middle of an Apple app.

SUMMARY

So, nice speed and java improvements. It’s a fine browser but it’s not world class yet because there are some portions of Safari that need to be improved for user scaleability. Right now, as you need more out of Safari, eventually it becomes unmanageable. So, if you prefer speed over user filing prowess & privacy needs – then Safari is a great choice, certainly on the Mac side – I guess we’ll hear more PC users coming on and their take on it … but if your needs are closer to mine, Firefox is still the best of all worlds.

Really there is an 8th missing feature – no real plug-ins like Firefox (the few available are plug-in like or workarounds or just plain hacks). It’s not a huge reason why I use Firefox. For me, it’s just a nice add-on but I know for many others, plug-ins are essential.

LITTLE TIP FOR PC USERS

BTW, unlike other companies, even though the Safari 3.0 download page looks like you need an email address, if you untick the SEND ME EMAIL NOTICE, you are free to download without any email info.

AND FOR MAC USERS, while you can still keep Safari 2.x on your machine, Safari 3 seems to “take over” and implement its java changes on top of 2.x so keep that in mind.

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13 Comments

Filed under Apple Mac, Computing, Internet

13 responses to “Safari 3.0: Still Missing Features

  1. Joe Schmoe

    The passwords are saved to your Keychain. It’s an encrypted private data store, with your login password as the key.

    It’s similar to what firefox offers, only deeply integrated into the system.

    strong>(METROXING: That’s what I figured but KEYCHAIN scares me 🙂 It seems to ask a lot of choices that seem really open ended and scary 🙂 )

  2. astroman

    Does Safari 3 let you rearrange tabs? Or drop a tab from one window onto another?

    The first, particularly, I use all the time.

    Also, the ability to have active, inactive but visited, and not yet visited tabs in their own colors is a wonderful add-on feature of Firefox. Does the new Safari have that?

  3. Anonymous

    We get it. You like Firefox, you don’t use the system level keychain, your browsing methods (totally private, 1000 bookmarks) are uncommon. You don’t know the keyboard combonation for “new window” “open bookmarks”. Got it.

    I assume they’ll fix the beta problems… and if you choose Safari, you’ll learn how to use the keychain and bookmarks if you want to get the most out of it.

    Last gen’s killer browser feature was Tabs.

    Safari 3 Beta’s killer browser feature is sizeable textareas. Something commenters will really enjoy, since as I write this, I’m lamenting the fact that I’m on Win2000 and can’t install Safari 3.0 to resize this box so I can see what I’m writing!

    You might want to bother to mention it…

  4. Brent

    Biggest missing feature for me is still requiring you to designate a download folder in advance that ALL downloads go to, instead of being able to select every time where a file is going to like in Firefox.

    Also there doesn’t seem to be any “restore previous session” like Firefox has, and Saft that I use on Safari 2 to do that isn’t compatible [yet] with 3.0

    (METROXING: You’re right, Brent – forgot about your two points, I knew there was something I was forgetting …)

  5. zahadum

    points are all well-taken …

    but at least tab management is no longer totally pathetic in Sv3:

    * FINALLY, AT LONG MERCIFUL LAST, groups of tabs can be saved as work sets;

    * and (accidently) closed tabs can be reopened (of course the UNDO concept is, er 25 years old with mac UI design, but hey better late than never 😉

    * data detectors are back! … a decade later but back they are. yippee!!! apple needs to more fully expose the LSA engine so that user-defined data types can also be expoloited –this is not exatly the “semantic web” but it is a good start!!!

    * yes, bookmarks are still lame compared to firefox; there is no unstructured textfields for description or comments; nor is there any metadata tags specifically for spotlight – capable of supporting a wide & rich variety of content object models!! (this would give a whole new job for ‘autofill’! Apple needs to expand the charter of its LSA engine!).

    * input managers — safari (and leopard) need to have a COMPLETE mapping of all nib elements from mouse keyboard! If i want to select a word (to use the spell-checker) when safari webform manager so conveniently highlight’s my errors, then i should NOT have to reach for the mouse all the time – i should have a keyboard command that executes an shortcut (ie all NIB elements must have a definition for every form of input – mouse / keyboard/ voice / gesture / osax event / etc) ……

    AT A MINUMUM, apple needs to create a system wide keyboard command for invoking the contextual!!!!! but this too should be generalized so that there is a way to invoke SUBSETS of the applications menus – yes, there are third party apps that will bring down the application men closer to the focus object / active window (in order to save mouse travel time up to the main manubar) but this is not a reliable /stable solution to command management (it is diappointing that quicksilver/butler were not applied imaginatively with core animation — having menu sets float/collapse in 2.5D (yeah OPML!) would have been a welcome tweak of contextaul menus!

    … as it is, safari does obligingly display in the status bar the results for mouse+modfier-key when applied to a url … but safari v3 still does not make availible every possible combination for tab/windows selection — eg ‘open this link in the tab previous/following the current tab’ + in a background of foreground or window; or ‘go to the new link or stay in the current tab’; etc etc.

    It is the lack of completness & consistency in apple fit & finish – so close & yet so far – that makes dealing with a mac such a frustrating experience!

    * the session manager (not just the crash manager) should be able to remember the CONTENTS inside textfields so that work is not accidently lost (closing a tab etc) — spotlight should be able to search on all user-generated webforms not just while they are active but also after they have been sent!! — which means that safari should automatically archive everything the user does/creates (both locally as well as globally – another use for the new dotNET!!)

    * i should not be forced to restart safari just because i want to diaplay more than one localization! … maybe some windows i want to see the menus/controls/help/ etc in chinese while other pages (or tabs!) i want to see in english or japanese! ….

    safari (osx really) does not restrict how many input languages i can use simultaneously, not does it restrict how many content languages i may render simultaneously — but it does not permit me to see the localization stings i need to use concurrently! — and this is a major short-coming when it comes to whiteboarding in iChat because each person is locked into only one representation of a common view. BTW: language management in general needs to be unified & simplified in osx!

    * universal access: there is no word about the vox engines in leopard – even though the new high quality TTS was a demo item last year! …. support for international languages is essential — especially for the screen reading experience in safari! And it would help matters greatly if apple could work on vox reco as well.

    * it would be cool if safari was more growlish … so then, i could send applevents & automator actions to safari across a network or even locally across & within(!) user spaces. this is not just useful for the iphone! ….

    having a rich event manager for safari (all apple apps) would mean i could control launch profiles (eg select from several AUTO-saved sessions). Every apple app in leopard should have a scripts/automator actions/events MENU —- this is part of the rational for making the SERVICES menu a top-level, visible menu (right now, apple apps do not have any general service discovery mechanism (bonjour is generally only a device abstraction) …. indeed one has to coerce the SystemUI menu (which is NOT part of the application menu!) to present a script menu — shame!).

    * i wish the bug report feature was smarter: when some msie script kiddy (er, Fortune500 web designer) mangles the html, javascript or flash etc, it would be nice if safari LOGGED this fact — sent the exception to the site’s webmaster (and their sponsors — you want a cool use for the Clipping widget in leopard, there it is: screen-scape all the advertisements & do a lookup for /their/ webmasters – hehe); as well as CC a copy of the bad website to apple; but most importantly, i want to be able to accumulate the urls of the crappy code violators into a ‘greylist’ (maintained locally & maybe also publically, just like spam lists) so that these web sites can not auomatically load again in the future! I am sick and tired of every damn browser on the mac grinding to a total hault because some lame-ass webmaster is using msie web code or just genereally abusing standrad web coding standards in general. They waste as much time for me as spam does – so i need safari to have a ‘bad web’ filter if safari is going to be my “go to” browser!

    BTW: if the guys at adobe would stop with the crack cocaine already, they would realize that there is no way that apple is going to base the isv aspect of the iphone on Flash! … too many script kiddies (er Fortune 500 webmasters) do such a horrible job that apple could not possibly take the risk that its RIA user experience is going to hung up (literally!) on their “priavte content” platform. AJAX is a _much_ safer bet!

    * safari needs the converse of clippings widget: i want to be able to ADD (insert or adjoin) my own web elements with those i find on the net …. simple example: macsurfer — a pioneer in news aggregation long before RSS, but following in the maillist tradition of Tidbits — forces me to select each link one-by-one (open in tab; bookmark; save contents; email to friend; digg; blogg; rss; podcast; etc): but it would be very groovy if i could build my own OPML widget that had radio buttons for each of these actions, and then refactor the target webpage into a (pseudo?) table so that each url (or any other part of the box model’s div) could be registered up against my action widget ….. i could save hundreds of hours doing research if i could in essence re-map the data schema from the web master’s conception to my conception —- this doesnt necessarily involve lost of css magic! (re-projecting pages into new but orthogonal user-defined views) … rather it only requires just an ability to extend how the page elements are externally interpreted (which is a very classic ‘pipe’ IRC model).

    * … @ joe schmoe: um, keychain is the OPPOSITE of scary: it guarantees that your info can be used only for the purposes you specify! RTFM 😉

  6. zahadum

    typos – sigh.

    -> web session management: that should have read “a new use for dotMAC” not dotNET … what was i thinking?! 😉

    -> clippings widget: that should have read “not LOTS of css magic” …. vs “not LOST of css magic” — though i think they both amount to the same thing 😉

    Another point:

    * focus control: it would be nice if the user could use change the style of caret/ insertion point / tab behavior … while actually within a web page, without being FORCED to go to the Applications Prefs!! ….

    this is another example of an earlier point about being more ‘grwolish’ — i should be able to send commands to safari that are NOT already included in the ‘application’ menus — OR ELSE make the prefences window disclose itself dynamically with a fly-out menu so that i can quickly change the setting that i want (and assign a keyboard command to it, just like i can for any other menu!).

  7. Dear astroman

    Yes, Safari 3 (finally!) lets you rearrange tabs. You can also ‘tear’ them off and they become a new window. Quite, nice, actually.

  8. That Safari is STILL incompatible with all the major WYSIWYG textarea plugins used by the most common CMSes and blogs is unforgiveable in this day and age.

  9. The tab “tear off” feature looks like it’s going to be useful.

  10. LK

    1. Beta – Beta is for testing, debugging and feedback. It does not represent the final product.

    2. Apple makes products for the layperson, not the expert. It a design paradigm. What do the majority of your users want, what can you give them in a reasonable timeframe etc.

    3. As one of the other comments noted, your web browsing behaviour is quite unique (1000 bookmarks – wow), so in that sense Safari is not the browser for you. Many advanced users like the added features of Firefox, but the majority of computer users will never exploit them. Hence simplifying the computing experience by not offering them in the first place is how Apple makes software for everyone. eg. iPhoto is great for most people, but if you want to get advanced then it’s not the program for you.

    4. Alot of the features you ask for (3rd party plugins etc) simply add to support costs, which is one of the reasons why Apple is so notoriously restrictive on 3rd party drivers, and hardware.

    5. Firefox is dreadful on the Mac, switch to Camino.

    6. I’ll give you point 7, defining the default web browser in a web browser is silly.

    Have a muck around with the tabs, the new find feature and the resizable text boxes.

  11. Nick

    “Many advanced users like the added features of Firefox, but the majority of computer users will never exploit them. ”

    Oh, dear, I’m not an “advanced user” because I don’t want to use a clunky browser that’s like a Windows port and that won’t allow me to use the Keychain, the Services Menu, the system-wide spellchecking and text-completion, and the correct key bindings, that can’t zoom windows properly, that can’t produce text-clippings like a real Mac browser, that has poor text-handling, including lack of support for hyphenation and poor faked italics where the font lacks those, and that doesn’t supports color profiles.

    Thank God I’m a basic user and simply able to use what has better features.

    Oh, and that 3 won’t save sessions is simply untrue. It’s there in the menus.

  12. Since you seem to know what you are talking about. the is a remote chance that someone at Apple may pay attention. So, I would like to piggyback for a request I have made for eons… How can I stop that obnoxious starting sound of a Mac ? Wakes everybody up. I found ways to stop it, with older models, but some sadistic moron finds a way to close the loophole on each new model. WHY ?

    (METROXING: It’s not exactly eloquent but you can set an automator action – when you shut down, it sets the system volume to zero so when you start up it’s at zero. The cheater way is to buy a 1/8″ audio plug (same size as headphones) and plug it in – you can also use cheap headphones and hide the ear piece so you can’t hear it.

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