i have no idea, yet i still want to hop on bandwagon

Update: After some time, Joel himself admitted being wrong with his initial claims. And me, looking at this post right now, I guess I’ve overreacted :) We are entitled to make mistakes.

Recently I’ve been greatly disappointed, by Joel Spolsky blog entry regarding Apple Safari on Windows. I really love the guy – I’ve read most of the stuff he wrote on pages, books also. But right now, I’m somehow surprised about bullshit he spreads. It seems like it’s a common attitude for bloggers – find out what people are now talking about and join the bitching/praising, completely clueless what you are writing about. And it doesn’t matter, because you can instantly edit your post, add plenty of PS, making people more and more confused about what your opinion really is.

Recently Apple released beta version of their web browser – Safari – for Windows. If you are well informed, you already know that this (most probably) because of recent iPhone release, and the whole storm about lack of “real” SDK, treating web browser and JS as the only interface for apps. I don’t want to discuss about this move – this is very interesting discussion and maybe I can pick it up other time. However the reason is quite obvious – Apple does not want to rush into market, and fight with Firelolfox, Oprah and Ieeee for users. They probably don’t care about windows market. They have their own beautiful world, MacOSX. But iPhone is targeted for everyone. Linuxers, Windowsers too. And to develop apps for iPhone, you need to get idea how they will look like, as iPhone ships with “somehow tweaked” Safari version.

I am a Windows user. While I don’t like few things about Apple, I have to admit that it’s really a great system. It’s fast, it’s functional and I love the look. It’s hard to switch or to change mindset for someone addicted to Windows or Linux for years – but it’s really worth it – to gain another perspective. As for browsers, as an user and web developer with vast cross-browser experience, I don’t like Firefox. I don’t like Opera. I admit that IE has quirks too, but as for now, I’m picking it as my main. Well, in form of Maxthon, to get some candy, but the engine is still the same. I have own reasons to dislike those browsers, but it’s irrelevant here. We’re heading towards Safari.

They’ve released it like week ago. Instantly downloaded the initial version, which crashed whole system. Once again. Then crashed itself. “Crap” – I thought, and thrashed it. But recently I’ve downloaded the new updated, fixed version. And I am speechless. It’s bad for Apple to have a falstart with the buggy version at the beginning. They might loose some people. But what I’m hearing now (and what poor Joel repeats) is such total crap I don’t know where to start, even.

First – Safari is AMAZINGLY FAST. Really. I’ve done exhaustive tests on very heavy sites. There is no browser that can compare. Safari displays those sites in 2-4secs, where others need 15s. I’m sorry mr. Spolsky. They are (Apple) right about those graphs and advertising it as fast. Because it is. It is. Period.  Right now people are quite confused about sites. They think that browsing is just downloading files and displaying it. The whole pressure is on bandwidth (Joel goes that way, too). What you seem to don’t know is that the “display” bart is VERY crucial for the whole browsing experience. It’s not about bandwidth. It’s about parsing HTML, building DOM tree, executing JS, parsing XML, accessing properties. Rendering, that is. Bandwidth is nothing. Sites won’t display 10x times faster just because you’ve recently upgraded your connection. There is always that amount of time taken by rendering process and this part is most significant as you cannot make it better with money. If you are creating web interfaces, writing AJAX apps, you know what I’m talking about – the browser “lag” when displaying complex sites. Not size-heavy. Safari excels at minimizing this lag – I can provide you with proofs where it takes 5s to render the page Firefox needs 25s for. Of course, for most of the sites, the differences between rendering are hard to notice – and people don’t care. But Safari is just fast. Superfast. I was a Maxthon fan for over 3 years. I’m dropping it instantly and switching to Safari, even if it’s beta. Right, I miss some functionality, improved tab browsing, some additional buttons. But those things are really minor. I have Safari as my main browser and I love it, looking forward for UI improvements. The browsing experience cannot be compared to FF, O or IE.

Web browser is for web browsing. That’s it. It was meant for browsing the internet and it’s doing it job very very well. I like Steve Jobs’s approach on this. I remember the iPhone keynote, where Steve says tak iPhone killer app is actually making calls. Because this is it’s primary job. Couldn’t agree more. I have a feeling that Firefox zealots completely lost arguments about why they have use (note : not “why’ve chosen”) Firefox. They answer : “i like it, it’s nice”. But they don’t remember really the switch moment. And I can tell you why : they have no idea. They tend to love Firefox because the sweet logo, because zealotry around, because the ad campaign. Not because the quality of product. Such is the nature of our habits. I laugh when people bring the addons arguments. People, this is web browser – not a washing machine! You want other functionality, get another soft! (which will be 10x times better, for sure). WebDeveloper addon? How many of you know that there is the same thing for Opera and IE too? (and does the job well, too).

I realize that this is yet another geeky post about apples vs oranges. It’s not my intention to fight for any browser. I wanted to describe some stances and behaviour regarding browser matter and also to put in doubt some ultimate “guru” knowledge. It’s always better to think for yourself, rather than be driven by a horde of Spolsky’s, Nielsen’s or Teletubbies.

P.S. Complaining about load time of beta sofware is a) lame, b) lame. Complaining about initial load time and then magically describing how Vista (yay!) loads it faster and faster any time sounds silly, because caching loaded dlls in memory is one of OS (windows particulary) most-known feature to improve performance. Go figure, “experts”.

~ by rattkin on Tue, June 26.

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