Giving WebKit A Try

Just changed my default browser from Firefox to Webkit on Leopard (OS X 10.5.3). The main reason was because of the announcement of WebKits migration to the SquirrelFish Javascript interpreter. They claim that it is 1.6x’s faster than the previous WebKit interpreter and if its true, that is pretty good considering most of my daily work flow is based around web based applications.

Initial thoughts

It has only been a few hours since the switch, but I must say I am quite impressed with the performance especially on sites like GMail, Google Reader, and the TinyMCE editor for my blog. TinyMCE is not only faster, but now its “true” functionality is exposed as well. There are a few features available that were not available when using Firefox. The speed improvements alone are not really enough to keep my interest for long because of the other features WebKit lacks over Firefox. If there was a way to close the functionality gap, then we may have our selves a new default browser.

WebKit’s “Shortcomings” (Compared to Firefox + Favorite Plugins)

  1. No new tab button
  2. No Google suggest built in to the search box
  3. No way to configure links to open in new tabs rather than new windows
  4. No AdBlock plus (plugin)
  5. No Google Bookmarks button (plugin)

Initial Solutions to the “Shortcomings”

  1. This application will add a “New Tab” button on WebKit for you. If you decide to install it, make sure you back up your Safari directory prior to running the installer, as recommended by the author.
  2. Inquisitor 3 will provide you google suggest like functionality in your search box. It is quite customizable, thus you can configure it use different search engines, display keyword results or web page results, among many other customizations.
  3. This awesome tip shows you how to tell WebKit to open all links in new tabs instead of new windows.
  4. Safari AdBlock is a drop in replacement for the Firefox plugin Adblck Plus. Set it, and forget it. Very easy to use. Haven’t really tested it yet with too many sites, but from the few sites it was tested with, the results look good.
    • Update: Switched to SafariBlock because Safari AdBlock was letting too many adds slip through, especially Flash ones.
    • Update Two: Switched to GlimmerBlock because SafariBlock was not really working well with Safari 4.
  5. Still working on it. Any Suggestions would be greatly appreciated. If nothing shows up, will start working on a new browser plug in to handle it. 
    • Update: Found a plugin called “Goggles” that provides access to Google Bookmarks.
  6. Update: If you want the tab bar to always display even with one active tab use this great tip.

Conclusion

There you have it, in a little less than two hours, default WebKit was transformed in to a Firefox 3 feature compatible browser. Look for a post in a few days to give my updated thoughts on Webkit after using it for a while.

comments powered by Disqus