Firebird vs. Safari

Posted by: on Feb 7, 2004 | No Comments

It may seem basic, but I’m seriously thinking about switching to Firebird from Safari for browsing. Mute issue in many circles, but it’s a damn fine browser… aside from it’s blazing speed, it’s feature packed, including configurable pop-up blocking. It uses XUL (“Zool”) for Theming, a previous liability, which seems to have come of age. It’s not slowing down Firebird one bit.

Before Safari, I extensively used Camino (previously Chimera), the Cocoa wrapped Gecko engine from the Mozilla Project. It was a great browser, and still is… but Safari won out when Apple finally flushed the sucker out and got it up to speed. Camino is lagging behind, and well, Mike Pinkerton et. al. talks more than he produces. No one man can conquer the world. C’est la vie. (But yes, I should contribute.)

Now, Firebird, even in it’s pre-1.0 stage, is significantly faster. Oh, yes, significant I tell you. Furthermore, it’s support of XHTML and XML/XSL stylesheets is mostly complete where as Safari’s is not. There’s some discussion around that on Surfin’ Safari and XBL vs. XSL, and it’s only somewhat valid saying XSL stylesheets are before-the-fact, when in fact they don’t need to be. But whatever. Moreover, we need to be honest about standards: most aren’t adopted for years despite their viability and ease, so the more the better. Elitist implementation policies have little effect in real world usability.

At any rate, Mozilla Firebird is worth a significant look, be you Windows or be you Mac. And trust me, this isn’t coming from some biased point of view, as I’m now an ex-employee of AOL. (Well, so are all the Mozilla folks, kinda.) If you want Mail & News, there’s Mozilla 1.7 which offers everything in one package (still in beta, 1.6 here), and Thunderbird the Mail & News companion to Firebird. (Mozilla is moving towards the Firebird, Thunderbird model where functions such as browsing and mail exist as separate applications. And rightly so.)

Microsoft has effectively stopped development on MSIE and has said the next version will only be available as part of Longhorn — a pay-for upgrade. The Mac version of MSIE is completely dead, for understandable reasons. The modern features of Firebird have been available for years (in Mozilla, Camino, Safari, etc.) but here’s you real chance to kick MSIE to the curb knowing it’s sitting stagnant and undeveloped. Oh, and that you’re getting something much better, and faster, and more feature complete, and more configurable…

Safari’s a damn fine browser for the Mac. It’s probably right for your Mom and for your untechnical brother, but if you’re a bit more savvy than the norm, check out Firebird.