Browser Shootout Feedback

Originally published 23 January 2002 as a Mac Daniel column for Low End Mac.

I received, as I had anticipated, a great deal of feedback on last week's Great Mac Browser Shootout. Here are some of the more intriguing responses:

Luke writes:

"It is VERY worth noting that the URL Toolbar in both IE 5 and Netscape 4.7 can contain FOLDERS of URLs. Both can drag and drop URL into the Toolbar but IE 5 and 5.1 can drop URL into a FOLDER on the Toolbar."

Except for Opera, whose exclusion of a "Favorites" toolbar still has me scratching my head, all the browsers covered in the shootout support this feature.

Several people wrote:

"What about OmniWeb?"

OmniWeb is only for OS X and thus was not covered in this series. Look for it in the OS X shootout sometime this spring.

Martin van Luijt writes:

"I really liked the second part of your browser shootout. It seems we agree on what's the finest browser. iCab even moved to Mac OS X with me, although the X version is not bulletproof yet. But there are two features of iCab that make me love it so much that you didn't mention. You may have a reason for that, but in case you didn't know I'll tell you about them.

"You mentioned that command-clicking a link opens the link in a new window. If you command-shift-click a link, it opens in a new window behind the current one. Really useful when you don't want to interrupt your reading!

"Once a page is completely loaded, you can save it to an archive file (by means of command-S) for later reading. Saving is very fast (nearly instantaneous), as is loading. This allows me to read my favorite pages when I'm not connected and without being connected (I'm on a pay-per-minute dial-up connection)."

iCab continues to surprise me; the cmd-shift-click shortcut is a wonderful feature. IE 5 and Opera can do this as well, but Netscape and Mozilla cannot.

I find iCab's archiving feature to be quite speedy as well, though I don't use it very much. I like iCab's ability to mirror the entire structure of the site much better than IE's ability to save only as a Web Archive File. Opera and Mozilla can save a single page, and Opera can save the images, but only iCab appears to be able to save linked content in its original structure as well.

Erik pointed out a very useful shortcut in Opera that ought to be in the documentation somewhere:

"To cycle windows in Opera, press cmd-arrow up or cmd-arrow down."

He also had this to say:

"One of my favorite keyboard commands is z for back and x for forward, conveniently placed the the left on the keyboard. Likewise, a and q move up/down between links."

Thanks, Erik. Perhaps you could convince the developers to add this in a menu so that casual users can find it instead of burying it deep in the Help.

As far as the hotkeys go, they're a neat feature. Unfortunately, if Opera ever implements the HTML 4 form access keys specification properly, they'll have to come up with a new way to do this.

A Microsoftian programmer (yes, someone in Redmond is reading this) named Brian pointed out a couple of my mistakes:

"In Forms, you claim that labels and access keys fail completely in IE5. I just tried it with your test page, and they both work fine for me. (Note that access keys use the Control key, so they don't conflict with the command keys — there's nothing in HTML4 that specifies which to use.) You also claim that disabled buttons don't render correctly — and they look fine to me, with your own test case."

Brian makes an excellent point about the access keys; they work perfectly when I use ctrl as a modifier. The HTML specification doesn't say how access keys should be handled, so every browser does things slightly differently. iCab requires no modifier, IE uses ctrl, and Mozilla and Opera just don't work, period. The disabled buttons also work properly; I'm not sure how I missed this one. At best, however, that gives IE a tie for first on the Forms portion of HTML 4 compliance, and thus one less point, still leaving it a rather-distant third place for its HTML compliance.

Finally, Tom gets the "Most Useful Tip That Probably Won't Matter" award:

"Just a note about Netscape. I have discovered that you don't really have to register Netscape after you have installed it, you just cancel out of all that, and it comes up just fine."

Thanks, Tom. I'm very pleased to hear that this silliness isn't required for the browser to work. Unfortunately, I don't think this tip is going to have people rushing out to get Netscape 6.2. :) It does, however, nullify my single biggest issue with Netscape 6.2 that Mozilla does not also share.

copyright ©2000-2004 by Chris Lawson