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I was just thinking about this, and I'm curious what others/development have to say about this.

I switched to a Mac at the beginning of last summer (~May 2006). I had always used Firefox on my PC, so naturally I was plenty happy using Firefox in OS X. Then, slowly, I realized that there's so much functionality built into OS X that FF wasn't tapping into, and would make life far easier if it did (i.e. system-wide spell check, keychain integration, address book integration, etc.). Firefox 2.0 was a good step forward, but still was lacking. Also, FF ran worse on my new Mac than it did on my old PC.

So I went looking for new browsers. I tried Camino, however going to that from Firefox was like using the internet without arms. It has pretty basic functionality and no extension support. I couldn't use it. I tried Opera, and really did not like it right from the get go; it just didn't feel right. I tried Shiira, and it would just crash all the time. Safari was missing a lot of things I like, and honestly, I think it's pretty ugly. Also, at least on my computer, there's a big fat memory leak in it and it takes no time for it's memory usage to balloon to the > 500mb range.

Then I found OmniWeb, I loved the quick rendering, loved the tab drawer (although after several months of usage, kinda miss my tab bar; that's a topic that's been beat to death though), loved workspaces, and moreover, loved how rich in features it was. Most importantly, it integrates itself and supports many OS X features and protocols. It was a no-brainer to me. Combine the speed and OS X-y-ness of Safari with built in features that matched a majority of the extensions I had for Firefox.

However, I'm curious about the next major release of Firefox (I know, I know, it's still a ways off). It's been long known that Firefox 3.0 is going to be native Cocoa and support all the fancy OS X features. It will still support the thousands of Firefox extensions out there. And it's free.

What do you think could happen to OmniWeb to help keep competitive with a free browser that may catch up to it in terms of speed, integration, and features? I'm not sure if I would switch back to Firefox now (although I would kinda like to see some sort of skinning option in OmniWeb, even if it's just icon sets), but I have trouble thinking of what I would like to see added to OmniWeb that would make the experience better.

Do others think that FF3.0 might "turn up the heat" in browser competition on OS X? Does OW have areas to expand that will keep it with a leg up on the competition? Is FF gaining Cocoa/Keychain/etc. features even a big deal for Mac users?
I think there are quite a few things that could stand improvement in OmniWeb - autofill and RSS being two of the most obvious. The Workspaces feature, which is currently OmniWeb's trump card for me, could be made even more advanced and tab handling could be improved (that is, have tabs open by their parent rather than at the bottom of the list, return to the last tab used rather than the one immediately above, etc). There are also plenty of other power user features that can be added, and further improvements could be made with respect to integration with the OS and other apps to keep OmniWeb enticing to the user to stay with it.

It is also worth pointing out that even if 3.0 or any future version of Firefox is written to support OS X fully, it is still an app written for three different platforms (both a strength and a weakness) and it will still suffer usability flaws because of its need to fit three very different UI philosophies. Similarly, the extensibility of FF, though one of its greatest strengths is also a huge weakness. Due to the bewildering number of extensions available, trying to find an extension that really carries off the one feature you would like is often very difficult. The current rating system just leads to those extensions that became most popular early on staying most popular because they are the only ones that are easy to find. There could be much better implemented alternatives, but finding them demands an immense amount of time and patience. In the end, what appears to be happening is that there are a core set of extensions rising to the surface that pretty much offer the same features already present in other power browsers such as OmniWeb, Opera and iCab and not much else (sometimes they are better implemented, but just as often they are worse), and these are slowly integrated into Firefox itself. IOW, why not just start with the browsers that have these features built-in by default?

Edit: I should answer your question - will a better Firefox "turn up the heat"? Of course, but I don't think other browsers are going to stand still. I just hope that an improved Firefox takes away even more market share from IE on the PC so that web site owners have to actually think about the way they design their sites instead of catering to the IE crowd to the exclusion of others.

Last edited by JKT; 2007-02-14 at 01:18 AM..
I don't know, but I'm sorry to say I've mostly put aside OW for FF 2 lately. Why?

-- For me, FF is faster on my new Macbook Pro and on the Mac Pro at work. I don't get it either, OW 5.5 was a speed champ on my old PBG4.
-- Ad blocking is faster and more comprehensive using AdBlock Plus
-- I can easily add functionality I like using extensions, such as gestures
-- I do web design and development for a living, and like having the web developer toolbar, Firebug, FireFTP, and HTML Tidy extensions
-- I like having the "normal" tabs across the top, plus "proper" tab functionality (i.e. close tab, go back to its parent; close last tab, tab bar goes away)
-- predictive Google search field
-- easy dragging of images from web page to desktop (without needing a modifier key)
-- better Ajax support
-- more compatible with more web sites

What I miss from OW:
-- nicer text rendering
-- native form widgets (although I've minimized this issue with Firefoxy)
-- Cocoa UI elements
-- Site preferences
-- Web Inspector

OW just looks and feels nicer, but I find I really want page loading/rendering speed and accuracy, and confidence in support for all the "web 2.0" features being added to web sites out there. I also find I don't miss the visual tabs and like the option of compact "traditional" tabs.

I still keep checking on this forum and for updates, hoping OW will update webkit and have more state-of-the-art support for Ajax and such, as well as speed improvements and more user customization options.
Omniweb which is built exclusively for OS X in mind and Frameworks will always win.

IMHO if Camino gathered much more support and usage, it would make a great alternative for OS X. Yes, we really need a webkit competitor.

Firefox 3 roadmap may include native Cocoa, OS X but I won't believe it until I see it. It is not that easy, I am sure nobody is happy coding an application working like emulation.

See Opera, it supported OS X Keychain up to version 7.5 and they made an amazing decision to move to their own Wand.dat data. I am not speaking against the method of Wand, it has been proven that it is a very secure method of filling passwords but.. Wand.dat?

Firefox also have another quirk which can't be fixed by code. Fanatic community. Pick some of the posts on this forum and try to report same type of problems on sites like Mozillazine etc, you will understand what I mean.

BTW as Omniweb is a commercial browser, it should be compared to iCab which I found really impressive but loses because of Carbon.

Last edited by Ilgaz; 2007-02-16 at 02:26 AM..
Isn't OW is a carbon app...? The guys behind Camino are looking VERY closely at Webkit (have you used a webkit nightly recently - good?) all the transferable work done on the FF widgets may be redundant if Camino goes Webkit. FF is way slower than webkit - without the OS integration - which is what Opera needs to be a killer app.
I just thought now that there are two add-ons for Firefox to get visual tabs like in OmniWeb I might as well just see how far I can get with Firefox replacing OmniWeb.

I'm now up to 15 add-ons and I still don't have all the functionality of OmniWeb. Text rendering ( still sucks a big banana in Firefox, it still doesn't do real bold Japanese fonts it's still fake bold all over the place.

I'm on a mac Mini (Intel Core Duo 1.66 GHz) and Firefox' speed is still glacial. And albeit I can get most of OmniWeb's functionality in Firefox, it still is butt ugly. Even with a fancy theme Firefox is an ugly toad.

Yes the plug-ins are really neat on FF, but in the end the only plug-in I really envied Firefox for was Firebug, and with the new Web inspector we even have that functionality finally in WebKit.

So all in all I'm back to OmniWeb. Now I'd love to see a little more JavaScript magic to give me the full functionality on the google sites :-)
Originally Posted by Splutter View Post
Isn't OW is a carbon app...?
No. Carbon is for porting apps from the classic Mac OS to Mac OS X. Omni never made any software for the classic Mac OS, so none of their apps would be Carbon.

Omni was writing software for NeXTStep, before it was acquired by Apple and transformed into Mac OS X. OmniWeb was actually a NeXT browser until version 3 or 4.

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