Thoughts / the new finder in the jungle safari / January 20, 2007

lately i’ve been having problems with safari, but i bet it would be the same with any other browser.

mostly it has to do with it crashing. thought i better add most of the times i have had at least 10-12 windows open, some with several tabs. i have also been having problems with my bookmarks, which happen to be one too many for any bookmarking system besides delicious, which unfortunately turns to be quite slow for fast-bookmark retrieval.

then i started to think that lately i have been using my browser almost as much as i use the finder (or the explorer in wondows). daily i check my bank accounts, upload/download from my sites and clients’ sites through web ftp, check my mail online, read some blogs, some news, write some others, and every day there’s one more thing i’m doing in my browser.

but even though it has become the most used application i have in my dock, it still is just a browser. same tabs, same bookmarking drawer, that’s all. even the finder has evolved into a filing-searching machine, and for the really exigent there are things like path finder. but the browser, the most used application i have, still hogs loads of memory, has all links as lists and closes silently when i (willingly or not) press the close button (or the dreaded command-q that was supposed to be a command-w), perhaps leaving behind some web application with a text field full of posts-to-be, or a logged-in service.

on a side note: i have come with bookmark drawers trying to improve looking for bookmarks (and saving them quickly), here’s a shot of what my bookmarks bar looks like:

safari bookmark drawers

i think there is time for browsers to act like the digital hub they have becomed. sure, firefox has the extensions, and that just tells they know their software is the center of many things (including file sharing with all peers, the latest i’ve seen and a fantastic one). but the bare version of firefox is still a browser, and it behaves like a browser. no content intelligence (my browser knows what i’m browsing, can’t he decide when it is a bad moment to be closed inadvertently?), no smart bookmarking, let alone bookmark searching (thank god for quicksilver, but that in itself is another long post), no modal interface, no context-aware contextual menus (let’s call them just right-click menus for now).

i know there’s something else that has to come to take the browser’s place (the cellphone? but what? a mobile browser?), and if there’s not, it will, since navigators are stalled in the “window” mode of showing a view of the online world. and i think if i was into making browsers there are a million things i would like to add. but then, the biggest problem is that browsers are free, so no one gets much back for those huge changes that have to be done; everybody and mozilla are busy improving on a second-hand product that helps sell computers, perhaps. in the meanwhile, more applications are embedding browsers to make help files available, to show personal secure content, to be flexible and ubiquitous as browsers + html can be. and in the meanwhile, my browser’s major breaktrough has been improved type rendering (and not just better than anyone else, but dead good and miles away from the competition) and sogudi-powered search (which has turned my browser into my second command line interface).

i want a finder-browser, i want the next step, i want a smart application that knows more about the web than the rest of software i have installed. but i can conform with a browser that helps me do all my online stuff smartly[1].

there’s a challenge… ’cause, like it or not, the web is gonna stay here for a while (until web 4.5 or something like that).

[1] and better garbage-collection, please.