Related link: http://hmdt-web.net/shiira/en
It was Giles Turnbull, whose blog 83browsers reminded me of Shiira, a WebKit-based Mac OS X browser being developed by a group of developers in Japan (the country that gave us manga, J-Pop, and Ruby… thank you, thank you, and thank you). And on the same day that Microsoft officially bailed on Mac IE, Shiira released version 1.2 of their browser.
I’ve played with it during the 1.2 betas, and surprisingly, it has displaced Safari as my default browser. Here are some of the things that make me love this browser:
Open in background window/tab
If you enable tabbed browsing, but un-check “select tabs as they are created”, you get this great background-by-default behavior on ctrl-clicks:
I’ve found this really useful when a page has multiple links I want to come back to, but not at the expense of my current attention. I use it when spot-checking news stories for java.net: I spawn tabs for all the story’s links and make sure they all load, letting them load simultaneously while I check the rest of the story. Speaking of loading…
Progress indicators for loading tabs
Neat trick: the spinning indeterminate progress indicator in each tab also has a percentage progress indicator, drawn as an arc segment of a circle, as seen below:
Styled source view
The view source window shows the HTML with syntax coloring, which makes it easier to copy source and not mangle it by missing part of a tag.
I’ve had to shrink this to fit it in the O’R blog space, but if you squint, you might notice that the top of the window has a spin-down that shows the HTTP request (a choice widget lets you see the server response too). The “HTML” choice can be changed to “DOM”, which lets you browse the document object model as a tree-table. Nice, nice, nice.
The wildly flexible “sidebar”
A slide-out sidebar/tray has vertical tabs with several useful functions. First, you can manage your bookmarks:
Notice how it says “Safari Bookmarks”. That’s not a one-time-only import. You can bring in your Safari or Firefox bookmarks and if you add new bookmarks in those other browsers, Shiira will get the updates and display them. Helpful if you want to use multiple browsers (I mostly use Firefox for compatibility when sites won’t take Safari/Shiira).
History. Pretty much the same as everyone else’s. Yay.
A really nice thing Shiira does with downloads: not only can you specify a downloads folder, you can also tell Shiira to keep downloads organized by download date. This is a tremendously practical way to keep old downloads from hanging around in the finder. The resulting folder structure is shown below:
I should note that all the sidebar functionality is exposed elsewhere within the browser — there’s a menu for bookmarks, and a window for downloads — so you don’t have to use the sidebar if you don’t have the screen space for it.
These days, everyone has to have a Safari-like search widget at the upper right. But notice how Shiira doesn’t lock you into one search engine:
Like Firefox, Shiira comes with a collection of search engine options, which you pick by clicking on the globe icon. It’s also a pretty simple matter to add new search engines:
Making WebKit available to all was a good move on Apple’s part, since it has fostered innovation and competition in Mac web browsers. I’m sure the OmniWeb fans will answer with their list of cool features.
But right now, I’m very happy with Shiira. And to the Shiira developers, if they happen to see this:
わたし は シイラ が すき です。
Have you tried Shiira? What do you think?