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Safari for Windows so far

Posted on by Clive Walker in Web Development

Safari icon I downloaded Safari 3 beta for Windows when it first came out because I wanted to use it as part of my browser testing suite for website development. I have used it on and off since then and here are my impressions.

Generally...

Overall, for general Internet browsing, Safari 3 beta works fine without any major advantages or disadvantages. It does not seem to be any quicker, despite claims, than Firefox 2 or Internet Explorer 7. I have not experienced any crashes [I'm using a fairly new install of Windows XP on a desktop PC] and most websites seem to render quite consistently compared with FF 2 and IE 7.

Not so smooth

... font smoothing looks rubbish to me

My one major gripe with Safari 3 beta is that it overrides my Windows font smoothing preferences with its own font smoothing method. I'm not sure that this a good idea. Surely, the operating system preferences should take precedence here? This wouldn't be such a problem perhaps if the Safari font smoothing looked great. Unfortunately, that's not the case. I have Safari font smoothing on the 'light' setting but it looks rubbish to me. Some website text sizes and styles are not nearly as clear to read. Initially, I thought this might be because I am not used to font smoothing [I have Windows Clear Type font smoothing turned off] but it has not improved with time. It still looks poor to me. Please provide the option to turn off font smoothing in the next version!

Website testing and development

CSS layouts have been very similar with Safari 3

For website testing purposes, I have found Safari 3 beta most useful on one particular project where the website has some close tolerances in spacing between layout elements and where the client has an Apple Mac - so the extra facility to test here with Safari has been worthwhile. On other website projects, my CSS layouts have been very similar between Safari 3, Firefox 2 and IE 7. Yay! It's a debatable point perhaps whether Safari 3/Windows is a replacement for testing on Safari 3/Mac.

Even for local web page testing, not everything is perfect . I have had to modify my website testing routine because previewing a web page in Safari from within Dreamweaver CS3 does not work. Safari just opens a blank page. There is another problem when you drag and drop a file onto the Safari desktop icon. Nothing happens. The only way to open a local file is to open Safari first, then use File - Open. Not so great.

Summary

I have not had any major problems but I would probably only give Safari 3 beta for Windows a score of 6/10 with the comment 'could do better'. There is a useful feedback mechanism built into the Help dialogue box which means you can send feedback to Apple. Here's hoping that the final non-beta version will be an improvement.

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