After my last piece on browsers I was contacted by the folks at OmniWeb and encouraged to give a closer look at the new 5.1 version. It uses the same rendering engine as Safari, so it’s very fast at rendering pages. Like the Red Sox, I’ve always respected OmniWeb. The feature list is substantial and it has always “felt” like a good Mac application. Now it is.
I told the Omni folks that I liked their work and respected what they’re doing on the Mac platform (if my memory serves me correctly, OmniWeb was the first browser on early versions of OS X), but I had some issues regarding speed and occasional crashes. Politely, they encouraged me to check out the new versions.
So I did. I ran through 5.1 beta 1. Wow. Fast. Love those new features, the vertical tabs (Mac screens are wiiiiiide now, so vertical is good again), and so many of the thoughtful touches. But a few crashes.
Then out came an improved 5.1 beta 2. Wow. Fast. Love those new features but not all were available in the “free” version, so we opted for the no-nag version.
That’s right, baseball fans. Tera Jean Patricks pays for software. I paid for OmniWeb.
Today you’ll find OmniWeb up to 5.1 beta 3. Please try it out. Click Here for the Feature List and download.
What’s new? Rock solid. No issues at all with this version. Yet. Since I resepect greatly Firefox, love Safari, and use Camino, switching browsers isn’t so difficult anymore. In fact, the only major issue I have is moving around bookmarks. It’s easy on Safari, not on anything else.
Except OmniWeb. That’s one of the second tier of features that I value most. Handling bookmarks.
Back to the first tier. I’ve noted this before, but browsers have three basic first tier needs. Render pages fast. Stable (I don’t like crashes). Good, useable, Mac-like features. Most browsers are fast, although Safari and Camino seemed to be the fastest. If anything, OmniWeb is as fast as any.
That’s game one. Game two is stability, and that was my earliest issue with OmniWeb. Your mileage may vary, of course (everyone’s Mac system is different), but version 5.1 is a grand slam in an extra inning game. And it needs to stay that way.
Game three is Mac-like features. It really needs to feel like a Mac application. If anything, that attention to detail is what separates many applications from, “cool, I’ll use that” to last year’s second place finisher in the National League Central Division (no, I don’t remember who it was, either).
OmniWeb, Safari, and Camino score. OmniWeb wins on points. So many, in fact, that it takes game four.
Synchronize bookmarks. Man, I like that. Even .Mac (now, if I could just get Omni to sync using iSYnc).
Pop up blocking. You expect this, right? Safari had it right out of the block. OmniWeb does more than block pop up ads. You have choices to block, unblock, unblock now, not block all the time. That one was important to me because we use pop up polls, and feedback forms on the site. The OmniWeb developers (thanks Scott) tipped me off to the tip.
Password management. Get with it Firefox. This is big for some users. I hit lots of sites which require a login. Safari’s is tied to the Keychain. So is OmniWeb.
In a browser? Well, yes. And it works. I do plenty of editing using the browser window and our web site development application, pMachine’s Expression Engine is web-based.
Tabs. They’re vertical on OmniWeb. You’ll like that if you’re a wide screen Mac user and all the new Macs are (relatively) wide screen. Oh, that “thumbnail” of the open tab pages is slick.
Page marking. Hunting for pages though History is OK. OmniWeb’s page marking is better.
HTML source editor. Yes, you can do that. There’s no other browser that I’m aware of that can handle that. It’s not for everyone, but it’s one of dozens of little differences that make OmniWeb the feature champion.
Auto-saved browser sessions. Lord almighty, I feel my temperature rising. Oooh, oooh, oooh. These guys know what turns a girl on these days. Sometimes I get a dozen pages open and need to close down. Click. Everything gets saved and shows up again during the next boot up session. Sweet.
RSS news feeds. This one is a bit lame (more of an afterthought) as I’m using NewsFire now. I don’t see the next Safari implementation of RSS feeds taking out the standalone RSS news feed applications; NewsFire and NetNewsWire are the best. Safari 2.0 (in Tiger next year) will introduce this great time saver to other Mac users.
OK, enough already. You get the point. OmniWeb keeps coming back from the grave. Just like the Sox.
Click Here for the Feature List and download. Oh, OMT. OmniWeb is the only browser I’ve found, Mac or Windows, that has pet testimonials.
Note to Omni: How about a preference that gives me the iTunes/Safari/iPhoto “brushed aluminum” skin? That’s beginning to grow on me. Everything else feels, I don’t know, uh, “lightweight?”