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Safari 4 Beta

The Safari 4 Beta shipped today, and frankly, I think it stinks.

Among the many things that I think are wrong with it:

  • No title bar means it's not easy drag windows. You have to be very careful about where you click.
  • The ability, via command-click, to navigate up the hierarchy is gone.
  • Repurposing of resize "grabber" to mean "move/drag" is confusing.
  • Close "x" on each tab supports click-through, so you can accidentally close a tab - with no way to get it back - when simply trying to switch to Safari from another app.
  • Tabs resize and thus change position when one is selected.
  • Web Inspector now takes up room within the window by default. At least it remembers if you expand it out.
  • Inquisitor doesn't work, and the "suggestions" Safari offers are nowhere near as good a replacement.
  • URL search now lists bookmarks LAST in the list. Previously they were a down-arrow away.
  • Cover Flow view for websites? C'mon…
  • You can have tabs to the left and right of your current position, but the "..." only appears to the right. It looks like you're seeing the first tab.
  • The first tab's close box is about 16 pixels away from the window's green grow box.
  • The loading bar is gone, replaced by a stupid indeterminate spinner.
  • You can only drag a tab from one corner now, as opposed to the whole tab.
  • Where did the Stop/Reload buttons go? In the Address Bar text box? Seriously?


The few positives include:

  • Seems faster.
  • The "..." control that shows you where you are in a window with many tabs. This one's a stretch, though.
  • I'm really stretching now: the welcome screen?
  • You can set your home page to a folder of bookmarks, but who does that?

What's been gained by having "Top Tabs?" 20 pixels of vertical space? Those 20 pixels are simply not worth the problems they cause.

I hope there's still time to fix this problem before release. Google Chrome isn't all that - and maybe Windows people only like it so much because they're used to craptastic UIs.

P.S. Perhaps a bit of sanity restored: Safari 4 Hidden Preferences.

31 Responses to "Safari 4 Beta"

  1. I didn't notice the loading spinner until I read this. I agree, it's stupid. I have no way of knowing how far along the page is while loading.

  2. I share many of the same sentiments. I was always used to moving my tabs around, by clicking anywhere. Now you have a limit target to facilitate that function.

  3. The Inspector has been that way for a while in Webkit, since the WWDC I think.

    I'm really, really not liking tabs on top, they reduce my confidence in hitting the target, and would seem to only be a good idea if you only have your window against the menu bar/top of the screen.

  4. Oh yeah, wtf is up with that spinner not in the tab now? Okay, nm, if the tab is a background tab, the spinner is in the tab. Never mind.

    And I agree, the old load bar was much better as an indicator.

  5. [...] Erik Barzeski: What’s been gained by having top tabs? 20 pixels? I’m sorry, but those 20 pixels are simply not worth the problems “Top Tabs” have caused. [...]

  6. When I saw the screenshots and the 'feature' list, I was immediately put off. I'll stick to webkit nightlies for the same interface plus the new rendering speeds thank you very much. No doubt about it at this point it's an epic FAIL.

  7. I disagree to some extent with the loading spinner being a bad thing. I noticed it right away when I installed the beta this morning, but I think it's a positive feature some of the time.

    Progress bars for web sites don't really show the progress in terms of percent completed loading the site. If the bar is 90% of the way toward the end, you could only be 10% finished loading the page. It's been this way for a while, but with more and more javascript being used these days, it's becoming more frequent. The progress bar doesn't really have much meaning.

    For fast loading sites, no progress bar means that the site appears to load faster. You see a white screen, and then the rendered result. Nothing in between. I don't know that Safari 4 is now faster, but it feels faster.

    For slower loading sites, though, it feels like things take longer. There's no indication that anything is getting done, which is frustrating.

  8. I still have mixed feelings about the beta, but I definitely agree that click-through on the window title bar is a bad idea. I'd probably go as far as not allowing clicks in the close or drag areas except for the front tab. You shouldn't have to think when trying to drag a window.

  9. Gruber links to a page that shows you how to turn off the top tab bar, and get back the old skool progress bar. All the speed, none of the suck now.

    1. John C. Welch said on February 24, 2009:

      Gruber links to a page that shows you how to turn off the top tab bar, and get back the old skool progress bar. All the speed, none of the suck now.

      That's why I included the postscript I did above: http://swedishcampground.com/safari-4-hidden-preferences

  10. Google Chrome has worked out most of these problems. The Safari team might do well to emulate them if they have the resources to pour into further polish. This initial release is evidence that they might not have those resources. The top tabs are totally, totally irritating as-is.

    "I'm XP. I'm made out of candy!"

    The new Windows feel is embarrassing. When they tried to push Metal onto Windows users, they patched until it worked right. Now they've switched to an insulting caricature of the XP feel. Hopefully they put in the work like they did last time.

    Google Chrome developers are following a bold vision for UI. I hope that the Safari team steals as much as they can. Just not like this.

  11. Re: "You can set your home page to a folder of bookmarks, but who does that?"

    Actually, I do that. I open several pages when I open Safari so that I don't have to open them manually.

    Although, I do agree with the tabs in the title bar. I just don't get what they were thinking there. I hope that they at least have an option to put them back where they were if the user wants them that way.

    As for tearing off tabs, they should have a key modifier to move tab from any location if the modifier is down. Like holding down the Option key when attempting to move or tear off a tab.

    We can only hope…

  12. Um...Google chrome is even worse of a "My Pretty Rainbow Brite Pony" UI than Safari 4/Win.

    Seriously, it's fugly, and in the damned way, and even though I'm 41, I don't need my browser buttons to BE THIS FRIGGIN' BIG!

    It's like the UI is yelling at me.

    LOOK! RELOAD! BACK! BIGGER FONTS! WANT TO PRINT THAT?

    Every time i try it, I keep muttering "Settle down, Beavis" at it.

  13. I like the overall look and feel of the current Safari build, but I agree with you in the following points:

    Dragging tabs feels very strange; I accidentally moved the whole window about 20 times today and I just wanted to rearrange some tabs; I wonder if I'll get used to it during this week
    The grabber was the first thing that confused me; it's a serious UI gripe; you can do a lot via drag & drop in Mac OS X, but not every freakin' item has a grabber on it; the grabber should stay in every lower right corner of a window and nowhere else
    The distance between the first close tab button and the window zoom button should be bigger; however, I use the keyboard combo since browsers introduced tabs

    I disagree with these points:

    The tabs resize feature is nice, because you know on which page you are; it wouldn't happen with a separate tab bar and a window title bar (there should be enough space), but the new layout works this way...
    Input Managers are Input Managers are Input Managers
    Loading bars in browsers are pointless; the bar can be visually at 90%, but the remaining 10% needs to load longer than the first 90%; they remind me of Microsoft's time approximations which were horrible; spinners are a nice way to let the user inform that there's something going on, but they don't make false assumptions and irritate the user

    1. Rafael Bugajewski said on February 25, 2009:

      The tabs resize feature is nice, because you know on which page you are; it wouldn't happen with a separate tab bar and a window title bar (there should be enough space), but the new layout works this way...

      That's part of my point. Because the title bar is gone (where you used to look), not only do your other tab targets move every time you switch to another tab, but the location of the page's title is no longer in a consistent location.

      Rafael Bugajewski said on February 25, 2009:

      Loading bars in browsers are pointless; the bar can be visually at 90%, but the remaining 10% needs to load longer than the first 90%;

      I still like a loading bar in a browser more than a completely indeterminate spinner. For the most part, Safari's loading bar was reasonably accurate. I never took it to be super-precise.

      I've never been "irritated" by the progress bars. They look visually different from true Mac OS X "progress bars," after all, so I don't think the argument about what people expect from them (precision) quite works.

  14. BTW: you should change the text below your comment input box, because you clearly don't allow unordered lists πŸ™‚

    1. Rafael Bugajewski said on February 25, 2009:

      BTW: you should change the text below your comment input box, because you clearly don't allow unordered lists πŸ™‚

      • Yeah
      • I
      • do?
  15. Erik, great observations.

    Like Gruber, I'm going to give it a few days and see if I can get used to it. I'm going to try to get used to using the status bar (at the bottom) to drag windows. Of course, that does no good if you prefer not to display the status bar. And it's an extremely inconsistent habit to form, because it's unlike windows in any other application.

    Regarding the loading bar -- I *was* going to say that I miss it because it indicates that progress is being made at all; I don't care so much if it's an accurate indicator of time remaining, as long as I can tell the web site isn't hung. But I realized the status bar at the bottom tells me how many items remain to be downloaded, which might be at least as good, if not as graphical or easy to see. I'll see if I can get used to it, though I'm pessimistic.

    One thing I miss is the ability to drag a link to the tab bar to open a new tab. Sure, I could Command-click on the link, but then the new tab will be at the end, possibly after ten other tabs, and sometimes I want it right after the tab I'm on (for example, I find a multipart video on YouTube and I want to open the parts in successive tabs after the current one). Also, I sometimes want to open a bunch of links from Mail as tabs in the same window.

    Anybody else find it odd that the dropdown menus for the address bar and the Back/Forward buttons have rounded corners?

    1. Andy Lee said on February 25, 2009:

      Like Gruber, I'm going to give it a few days and see if I can get used to it.

      To be clear, I am as well. I'll give it at least a week or so.

      Andy Lee said on February 25, 2009:

      I'm going to try to get used to using the status bar (at the bottom) to drag windows.

      I'm not. That's not how I drag any other window on the entire system, so I'm not going to change my behavior for one application. An application that requires that of you is poorly designed.

      Andy Lee said on February 25, 2009:

      Regarding the loading bar -- I *was* going to say that I miss it because it indicates that progress is being made at all; I don't care so much if it's an accurate indicator of time remaining, as long as I can tell the web site isn't hung. But I realized the status bar at the bottom tells me how many items remain to be downloaded, which might be at least as good, if not as graphical or easy to see. I'll see if I can get used to it, though I'm pessimistic.

      I doubt I'll look down there. It's nowhere near the other pertinent information: namely which site it is that you're trying to load.

      Andy Lee said on February 25, 2009:

      Anybody else find it odd that the dropdown menus for the address bar and the Back/Forward buttons have rounded corners?

      At the bottom, no. At the top, where it's supposed to be "attached," indeed that's bothersome. Good find - I'd not really noticed it until now. So thanks for making me more annoyed! πŸ˜€

    2. πŸ™‚

      Regarding using the status bar to drag -- yeah, you're right, that's more backwards than anybody should have to bend. It blows away the consistency of experience that we always tout on the Mac. Why not let everybody create their own crazy window controls? Agreed on the other point too -- progress should be indicated in the natural place, and besides the status bar is optional. If they wanted so badly to save the 20 vertical pixels, they could have gotten rid of the status bar and put *its* stuff in the title bar. (Not advocating that, just saying.)

  16. I'm actually loving Safari 4's blazing speed and developer tools. The fact that the web inspector is part of the window by default is fine with me, its the same as how Firebug works on Firefox, and you can pop it out forever if you like.

    I only really have two major complaints:

    1. The tabs on top suck. Put them back where they were, thanks. Is it a title bar? Is it a tab? Is it a close tab button? Is it a new tab button? No -- its hell.

    2. The whole CoverFlow / Top Sites thing is marginally useful at best. I'd much prefer for them to have implemented something like "Top Sites" that is actually showing you the contents of all the tabs you have open in a window, so you can jump to the one you care about more quickly.

    Overall though, I'm pleased, especially because I can turn the irritating crap off.

  17. What I like about the new Safari is it's memory footprint which is better than in the previous versions. It seems that the new version isn't so CPU intensive at all, too.

    I don't know if Safari is actually faster or if it just feels faster. I know that there are some benchmarks out there, but nobody seems to measure the time you've to wait between entering a URL, pressing enter and displaying the whole web page.

  18. Okay, point of infuriation for me: the reload button. This should be a real button. On the left side of the window. And it should allow me to hold down "shift" and press reload to *force* a cache bypass. AHHH!!

    Time to try those hidden settings...

  19. Coverflow for history is really useful as I always remember what a site looks like, but never remember the name...

    Having the tabs up top were a bit weird for the first day, but now like it, I think its a good saving of screen real estate.

  20. The screen real estate argument is really bad. The tab bar takes a whopping 20px. That's less than 1.5% of the render area of Safari.

    If we were talking about Safari on the iPhone, then yes, it would be a significant improvement. On a desktop system, not at all.

  21. Erik - how do you use a progress bar to load an indefinite amount of data?

    Back in Web 1.0 your browser would request a page and the web server would respond with a header with the content size. This was easy to use and determine how much of something was downloaded.

    Now with the wonderful Web 2.0 and sites using AJAX to download all sorts of information from a javascript... How can the browser now know how much of the page is loaded? Or even when all requests are sent and received?

    I'm not sure if I like the spinner either but I think a "hey, I'm doing something" or "hey, I was told to fetch something" is a heck of a lot better than "I'm loading something, now I'm done, oh wait.. not really... oh yes, now I am... uh, sorry, but not really".

    0.02

    1. Ken said on March 4, 2009:

      Erik - how do you use a progress bar to load an indefinite amount of data?

      The sizes of things are rarely indefinite. Your AJAX example occurs after pages load - the page can be responsible for its own "wait" timers then. If nothing else, there's almost always a counter.

      Ken said on March 4, 2009:

      I'm not sure if I like the spinner either but I think a "hey, I'm doing something" or "hey, I was told to fetch something" is a heck of a lot better than "I'm loading something, now I'm done, oh wait.. not really... oh yes, now I am... uh, sorry, but not really".

      I've never seen that behavior at all. I've written sites that use AJAX and haven't had that problem, either. The progress bar in 3 wasn't perfect, but it was better than a completely indeterminate spinner.

  22. Not sure why, but after forcing myself to stick with the new tabs, I kinda like them.

    The resizer being used to move and separate tabs still confuses me - I wish they'd come up with another icon for that.

    Top Sites is distracting and pretty useless. It's difficult to put a site in there unless it suggests it for you. At least about:blank still works.

    I used Cover Flow for history yesterday - that was incredibly useful. Much more than I thought it would be.

    The new autocomplete is much, much better. It needs to keep a URL's focus when moving the mouse away from the current selection, though.

  23. Mike said on March 8, 2009:

    Not sure why, but after forcing myself to stick with the new tabs, I kinda like them.

    I don't. I still hate them. I wonder if you aren't confusing "getting used to them" with "kinda like them."

    Mike said on March 8, 2009:

    The new autocomplete is much, much better.

    I still think bookmarks need to be placed above history items.

    1. Hard to say, I guess. I haven't had the time to give it enough thought. I used another Mac running Safari 3 last night, and it looked pretty dated. Is that because of the tab placement, or the other pieces looking different, too?

      I don't think the tabs make more sense up there, because that's where the title bar goes. If they reverted, though, I think I'd be a bit disappointed.

      I don't have many bookmarks (they're all on Delicious), but I agree that they belong above history items.

  24. [...] gotten used to Safari 4's "tabs on top." It doesn't mean I like them, and all of my previous complaints are still valid (to [...]


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