Apple's Safari 1.0 (v85)

At the 2003 World Wide Developers Conference, Steve Jobs announced the release of Safari 1.0 for immediate download. Though the betas had a reasonably polished feel, this final version brings the browser up to par with the rest of the Mac OS X browsers. Javascript and CSS issues seem to be evaporating quickly, and with more and more Web sites rendering correctly, the true innovation of the user interface is allowed to blossom.

Apple's process really shines in Safari. The decision to use KHTML rather than Gecko raised more than a few eyebrows when the first beta was released. The main reason for this was ostensibly because it is a lighter, more optimized code base that Apple could leverage for speed and build on where needed. But beyond that I view this as a good thing for the simple reason that innovative browser work with Gecko is already being done on OS X in the form of Camino (formerly Chimera), Firebird, and even Mozilla and Netscape themselves.

The next great thing is that Apple got Dave Hyatt to lead this project. His blog at provides invaluable updates to Web developers and hobbyists interested in the progress he is making. The browser itself has a handy bug reporting feature that allows the sending of screenshots and source code directly to Dave and company to make sure that your problems get noticed and fixed. This feature is not to be underestimated since often times rendering problems occur in private or dynamic for which a URL alone does not give identical page views.

As a professional web developer, I have to stay abreast of all the browsers out there to make sure my sites are functioning correctly. Safari had proven itself a wonderfully intuitive browser for all my common surfing needs, but the lack of tabs has made it impractical for every day use. With the release of version 1.0 I have made the switch full-time, and many of the subtleties have been extremely useful:

Safari Features

Tabbed Browsing
Safari gets tabbed browsing right. Not only can it be turned off for those who despise its very existence, it can be set to either immediately jump to new tabs or not. Using the various combinations of Command, Shift, and Option, links can be opened in a new tab or a new window with focus staying where it is or changing to the new link. I can not express how convenient this is for a heavy tab user.

Toolbar bookmarks: check, Bookmark folders: check, Bookmark management: triple check. Safari offers the handy iTunes-style interface for managing bookmark groups. Additionally it lists bookmarks from your address book and Rendezvous web servers (I didn't even know my printer had a Web server built in til I saw this), as well as keeping your bookmark menu distinct from the toolbar bookmarks and all the rest of them. The bookmarks page can be toggled on and off like Internet Explorer sidebars, except for it uses the whole browser window to allow for much more robust management. It also automatically imports IE and Mozilla bookmarks. But the really cool part is that iSync will synchronize bookmarks with various PDAs and other Macs.

My biggest problem with Camino has been that it doesn't save form fields. In fact, I got so used to IE Mac saving form fields that I thought all browsers did it. Unfortunately I realized that not only does Mozilla ignore this handy feature, but IE PC also drops form values when navigating around using the forward and back buttons. Of course IE Mac is unviable, so it was with much relief that I realized Safari saves form values. It even goes a step further to provide form auto-completion address-bar-style so you can have multiple possible values for a field, and it even culls from your 'My Card' in the OS X Address book. As if that wasn't cool enough, it also specifically allows the enabling/disabling of username/password fields. Finally, it allows you to see and clear the stored values for any domain you choose directly through the preferences.

Similarly to the AutoFill values, Safari also allows robust cookie management on per-domain basis. Other cool features include pop-up blocking, history and cache clearing, snapback, toolbar search, and extension disabling (plug-ins, Java, and Javascript).

A totally understated feature on the Window menu. Shows a tree of all the open web pages with all the linked elements contained therein. A great way to jump to linked stylesheets and scripts. Invaluable for the Web designer who frequently looks at these things.


Safari is just another brick in the wall of reasons why Mac OS X is the most impressive consumer operating system today. Not that I'm a zealot, I'm not out to dis Windows or Linux, I use them both extensively, but the last few years of leadership under Steve Jobs have put together a software platform that meets my needs in amazingly intuitive and time-saving ways. Obviously the result of user-centric interface design at every stage, Safari packs in hundreds of quirky interface details to make it work more efficiently.

The way that Safari integrates with the rest of the OS and Apple programs leaves other browsers at an unfair advantage. Apple even is shipping a Safari API for developers to use the browser's features directly in their own software (kind of like IE PC without the heavy-handed integration). Perhaps this is why Microsoft recently announced the discontinuation of Internet Explorer development on the Mac. Good riddance I say, and welcome to iLife!