Living Without Safari Week 4: Camino

Spending a month forsaking Safari for other Web browsers has been an interesting experience. I started with Firefox, moved on to OmniWeb, and then transitioned into Opera. This week I lived in Camino. Despite its similarities to Firefox, it has a personality all its own.

After spending a week with Opera, which was obviously punishment for some horrible transgression I committed in a past life, I was ready to move onto anything. As it turns out, I found Camino to be a capable browser. I didnit really get excited using it, but at least it wasnit Opera.

Week 3: Camino 1.0.4
Camino uses the same Gecko rendering engine as Firefox, and in many ways feels the same. It is Mac only, open source, and like most other browsers, is free.


Impressions In many ways, when I was using Camino, I felt like I was using Firefox. The application interface worked in a very similar way, browser tabs where pretty much the same, and keyboard shortcuts were the same as well.

In fact, I used Firefoxis Command-Option-arrow shortcut a couple of TMO readers clued me in on to move back and forth through tabs in Camino. It worked like a charm, and really helped to make Camino more usable.

Like most other browsers, Camino displays its tabs horizontally across the top of your browser window, which works just fine when you only have a few sites open. As you open more and more, however, the tabs become so small that you can only see the associated favicons.

Pop-up window blocking worked marginally. I know it prevented many pop-ups from executing, but even still, lots of pop-up and pop-under windows opened just as the site coders intended. I have no problem with Web sites using advertising to generate revenue - everyone has to eat. Pop-up and pop-under ads, however, get in my way, impede my productivity, and have never ever contained an ad that I was even remotely interested in.

Web page rendering times seemed much slower than they should have been, and occasionally I thought a page load had stalled only to be surprised when it magically appeared - just as I was getting ready to launch Safari to see if there was a problem with the site. But unlike Opera, I never had to break rule number 3 and launch another browser.

Just like Firefox, some Web pages rendered incorrectly with text, graphics, and buttons overlapping. I kind of figured I would have that problem since Camino and Firefox share the same rendering engine. The same Web page rendered in Camino, however, did have a more Mac-like look than in Firefox.

Overall performance was acceptable with processor usage typically hovering around 10 percent. Occasionally Camino would go to town on my PowerBookis processor, but for most of the week, it played nicely with my other applications.

Camino also suffered from the same redraw issue I experienced in Firefox. Sometimes the window scroll bar wouldnit switch from inactive gray to active blue when I clicked in Caminois window. Since I use that as a visual cue to see which application is active, I found myself clicking on different parts of the Camino application window to make sure it really was active.

From a cosmetic standpoint, thatis just an annoyance. But from a productivity standpoint, that wastes my time, and time is money.

One feature that Camino totally shocked me with was its RSS support. In a word, it sucked. Where Safari, Firefox, and OmniWeb all gracefully send RSS to my favorite news reader, NewsMac Pro, Camino simply displays the RSS code in a browser window.

And after that bout of negativity, I really need to share some more of Caminois positive features: First, overall navigation in the browser felt easier and smoother than Firefox. Second, I can tell this is a browser coded for the Mac, not ported from some alternative OS. Finally, it was stable - it didnit crash all week.

The Verdict
My overall impression of Camino was indifferent. It didnit wow me, but it didnit piss me off, either. Camino feels to me like a 1.0 product with lots of potential, and Iim looking forward to seeing how this browser evolves.

Now that Iive completed my month-long tour through other browsers, Iim free to use the browser of my choice. Which one, you ask? The answer may surprise you: Iim not going back to my tried-and-true Safari. Instead, Iim moving on to OmniWeb.

OmniWeb offers a feature set that goes beyond what I expect from an out-of-the box Web browser, and it fit my work style better than any of the others I tried. Safari will always hold a special place in my heart, and Iill keep it around because itis always a good idea to have more than one browser available for testing and troubleshooting.

Should Apple surprise us with a killer feature set in Safari when Mac OS X 10.5 ships, Iill consider switching back. But those features will have to be killer.

Interested in the other Web browsers in the Living Without Safari series? Here you go: