One Week With OmniWeb 5

I said I'd write up my thoughts on spending one week with OmniWeb 5. Before starting, here's the Coles Notes version: I bought the upgrade license, and have switched to using OmniWeb 5 (almost) 100% (see below for reasons why it's not at a full 100% yet). Here goes:

Things I love about OmniWeb 5

  • The tab implementation freaking ROCKS. - almost exactly what I mocked up in January 2003, with the added bonus of page thumbnails... And the thumbnails are absolutely amazing and gorgeous. Can glance at 10 thumbnails and see exactly where I need to go next... And, it shows the status of pages loading in the background (shows a green checkmark on pages when they've finished loading)
  • Saving the workspace as you work - so if you quit, or the browser crashes, all tabs are restored right where you left off the next time you launch (even remembering scroll position).
  • Textarea form elements on web pages have this cool widget where you can get a larger sheet for more effective text entry - with an "Import from File" button. Awesome if you fill out a lot of forms (like, say while developing a web app...)
  • Site Preferences - override application prefs on a per-site basis
  • View: View in Source Editor! You can edit the HTML for a page in a source editor, and REDISPLAY THE EDITS LIVE, without having access to the page's server. Awesome for debugging stuff.
  • Ad blocking is awesome. And it's highly customizable, too. Be gone, annoying flashing banner ads! Related to this is the ability to control animation of GIFs on a page - I've got mine set to allow animation for no more than 20 seconds.
  • URL Shortcuts. You can add shortcuts for any URL, and as an added bonus, you can add parameters for pages that accept them (like search engines, etc...). Slashdot is just "slash" now. No waiting for autocomplete... I worked up a shortcut that allows me to search CAREO from the navigation bar (like Alan's shiny new MLX Firefox plugin)
  • Regular expressions in the Find utility. Holy crap! Not that I'm a RegEx expert or anything, but any app that cares enough to put that kind of functionality at my fingertips deserves some serious kudos.
  • The "Page Info" panel. Every bit of detail of every single part of a page is available in a report. Files grouped by type (images, style sheets, scripts, frames, etc...) with full stats (file size, last modified date, expiry date of cache...). And, the ability to display each individual item, or save it separately, or view the source for it. Wow. Awesome for debugging websites...

Things I'm Ambivalent About

  • RSS implementation. Thought I'd love it. Thought it would be the greatest thing since sliced bread. But it's just nowhere near NetNewsWire, only showing titles of items in a feed, and not tracking read/unread state.
  • Bookmarks. Maybe I just haven't given it enough time, but it doesn't seem dramatically better than Safari's bookmark implementation (and has a wrinkle that you can't drag a page's URL proxy from the address bar into the in-browser-window bookmarks display - you get the bookmarks:/ URL instead. There's a workaround, but that's not the point...
  • Shared Bookmarks - not really useful unless everyone on your LAN is using OmniWeb 5 - I'm the only one I'm aware of here...
  • Multiple Workspaces - thought I'd really use these, but opening bookmark folders in tabs within the current default workspace works better for me.
  • Bookmarks syncing - I've been a huge fan of this with Safari, so it's not groundbreaking, but it's great to know it's there.

Things I'm Not a Great Fan Of

  • Out of date WebCore. Doesn't work with GMail (that's the one thing I keep Safari running on a second machine for...)
  • The "Save Window Size" command works great for single-display systems, but if I have a window on my secondary display while at work (on an external monitor plugged into my TiBook), and set the window to prefer that screen by "Saving Window Size" on it, then when I go home (without the external monitor), the window tries to open on the external monitor anyway. I can grab the edge of the title bar and drag it back on to the only screen, but it's a huge pain. It would be cool if the app was smart enough to realize the number of screens, and relative position thereof while saving size...
  • The Navigation Bar. Separate Stop and Reload buttons are redundant - and waste space on the nav bar. I can only do one or the other, never both... Also, I really miss Safari's progress-bar-under-location-field display. It's just so handy to be able to know that a page is about half loading by seeing a blue bar in my peripheral vision - without having to look up from what I'm reading, and without having to open an Activity Viewer. It's nice to have the Activity Viewer, but it shouldn't be the primary way to display page status.
  • No way to export my bookmarks. It will import them fine. Great. Now what? It will read my Safari bookmarks (but not write to them). I've been using Safari Bookmark Exporter to export my Safari bookmarks to every browser on my system. Can't do that anymore, since bookmarks will be going into my OmniWeb bookmarks file, which is in a different format...

Anyway, I'm sure it's far from a complete list, in each of the 3 categories. Bottom line is, I love OmniWeb 5, and plan to be a long time user.

See Also

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