Safari 3 Poses New Opportunities, Challenges For Web Developers


SafariToday Apple announced the immediately available Safari 3 Beta. It's also available for Windows users. This is a huge development for Apple, which seems to enjoy invading Microsoft's space every chance they can get. There are other new features, which bear good reason to talk about.


First, there are all of the announced changes from Apple:

  1. Blazing Performance
  2. Elegant User Interface
  3. Easy Bookmarks
  4. Pop-up Blocking
  5. Inline Find
  6. Tabbed Browsing
  7. SnapBack
  8. Forms AutoFill
  9. Built-in RSS
  10. Resizable Text Fields
  11. Private Browsing
  12. Security

These are all debatable, especially the 'Blazing Performance', but a few of these really stand out.

Namely, Resizable Text Fields. I checked on this, and sure enough, users can resize textarea elements in a form. Your layouts will be critical now, that the user can change the size of the containing element(s) well after your page has rendered. I wonder how many AJAX apps are going to be broken because of this.

Also, all of the form elements can be styled now! That's a big departure from previous versions of Safari. I'm glad the 'Safari form elements are perfect' snobbery has been replaced with an attitude more conscientious the of needs of web developers

The next big development is the find feature. Typing in the find area dynamically pops up results on the page, as they're found. The UI for this is amazing, and really shows the talent at Apple.

Of course the big question on everyone's mind is, 'How is all of this going to work on Windows?!'

Well the executive summary is: It does work, and it works well.

Safari Windows Installer

Tom and I loaded up Safari 3 though Parallels 3.0 on his machine running Windows XP Pro. The installer was typical Windows stuff. We were prompted to install the Bonjour Service and Apple Software Update Service for Windows.

Safari Installer Options This is another big development that I don't think a lot of other people have mentioned yet. Bonjour is a great program for Mac, that now will be available for Windows too!?! Apple Software Update will also run on Windows?!? We're going to be talking about this for a long time.

After we installed Safari, we encountered our first problem. For some reason (we don't know why yet), after we installed Safari, the network adapter for Windows stopped working. We used Parallels to specify the shared adapter, and everything worked again.

The Windows With Safari app itself looks great on windows. It's not bound by the typical Windows frame. Safari 3 basically looks the same as iTunes already does.

It was really strange to see Safari as an option in the Start Menu:

Safari In Start Menu

One thing that is still frustratingly still an issue is HTTP_AUTH between Safari and Microsoft IIS servers. Even if this is a problem with Microsoft, I think the developers could figure some type of workaround for this.

Another problem I have with Safari, is lack of code-coloring in the view source window. I have yet to see a developer toolbar built for Safari (I live by Firebug), and until there is one, I'm not leaving Firefox.

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