Thursday, August 19, 2004

Netscape 7.2 - Comments

Charles Moore over at Applelinks posted a little blurb/review on Netscape 7.2. I read it with interest as I'm always looking for a better browser. Currently I use Safari. Occasionally I launch Firefox, but it really - REALLY - took a turn for the worse with the 0.9.x release(s). Toyed with OmniWeb, Shiira, et al. Though they are cousins to Safari, they're just not up to snuff. I have trouble getting into the sliding drawer motif in OW. It just doesn't feel right. I want to look to the top, not to my right or left, then scroll up/down for all the thumbnails. Maybe I'll get used to it.

Some niceties have been added, mostly subtle things, like the newly animated Nescape logo. There's the obvious "new tab" button. But in general, I agree with Charles that it's almost a dead-ringer for Mozilla. Both seem design-antiquated to me.

"And it's fast! I can't say categorically without stopwatch comparisons that Netscape 7.2 is faster than Mozilla or Firefox, but it feels like it could be. A very satisfying browsing experience speed-wise. It also starts up gratifyingly quickly. So far it's been rock-stable too, with no buggines or erratic behavior." Charles Moore

My perception is a little different - but for clarity, yes, it is faster than any Netscape I've used to date. I ran Safari and Netscape side by side, Safari beat it hands-down on several pages not in my Safari cache.

As an aside, I don't think Safari is the perfect browser. I'd like to see some of Firefox's features added to Safari such as right-clicking on a nested folder in the bookmark bar and having options pop up to open in tabs, etc. Yes, I can go thru the motion of click folder, move mouse to right/left, down to the bottom of the list of bookmarks and click "open in tabs." I think Firefox is more efficient at this.

Launching Netscape brings up the annoying registration login screen. Easily bypassed, but it always feels like I'm *supposed* to click on it in order to use the app. Of course that's not the case, could just be registration sensitivity. Seems like 75% of the sites I hit now-a-days requires free or paid registration ... but I digress.

Customizing Netscape is fairly easy, but here's where it becomes painfully obvious that the application is NOT an OS X UI-based app. Okay, the other painfully obvious part is the overall UI. It just isn't ... pretty. I don't like the layout of the prefs. I don't like that my scroll-wheel mouse (MS Intellimouse Explorer 2.0) doesn't scroll where it should be able to.

Browsing: My preferred font is Verdana. I like it because it is highly readable to my eyes. Better than Lucida Grande or Arial, IMO. But Verdana in Netscape is not as crisp as Verdana in Safari. Minor quibble, but a quibble nonetheless. The forward and back buttons on my mouse don't work, instead, the scroll wheel - tilt to the left and the browser goes back to the previous page, to the right and it goes to the next page if one was loaded. Odd. Fixable, I'm sure, but I just didn't like the app enough to take the time.

Tabs: Okay, so it does tabs. But how the heck do I load a group of tabs? I just can't figure it out. There's no "open in tabs" option, and no right-clicking on the nested bookmark folder in the toolbar. Uhh, why isn't this feature added yet? Netscape guys, check out Firefox, please. If someone knows how to open a folder of bookmarks in tabs all-at-once, I'm all ears.

Lastly, Netscape (and I think all the gecko-based browsers) is not AppleScript friendly. Safari is the best at that at this stage, although it could be polished and enhanced - like the "click at" won't click in the search box or the URL box, but I can set it to click any of the buttons in the toolbar, bookmarks in the bookmark bar, tabs and links. Just no clicking in those two GUI elements.

Netscape is powerful - it is excellent for many folks who need or want a browser/email/composer/AIM client all-in-one. It is indeed a bit leaner and faster than it was in the past, but as I indicated above, my testing gives the speed-nod and overall victory to Safari as "Best Browser on OS X".


Darren Mahaffy said...

Posting comments is open to anyone (didn't realize default settings were for registered users only).

Darren Mahaffy said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.