Upcoming Web Browser: Safari 5?

What does Apple have on the horizon for Safari as version 4 was just released 2 months ago (June, 2009)? So far we have not heard anything and that isn’t a huge surprise, Apple is a very secrative company. The good news is that Safari is based on the open source WebKit rendering engine, so we can check out the list of feature enhancements added to WebKit since Safari 4 released with AppleWebKit/531.9.

New WebKit features:

On top of expected HTML, CSS, and JavaScript improvements, Apple will surly tweak the web browser again to build the most usable web browser. It could be a long time before we see Safari 5, or they may release an incremental Safari 4.1. Further details will come as now we can only speculate.

Estimated Release Date: June 2011

Update: Apple has indeed released Safari 5 with a tun of new HTML5 features and performance improvements, and a year ahead of my estimate; check it out at the Safari What’s New page.

Upcoming Web Browser: Opera 10

Opera 10 is set to be released in a few days with many CSS and JavaScript improvements, a massively updated presto rendering engine and a new visual look by well-known designer Jon Hicks. The client also now automatically updates itself, like Google Chrome.

Customizable Speed Dial in Opera 10
Customizable Speed Dial in Opera 10

The vastly improved web standards in the Presto 2.2 rendering engine include:

  • CSS3 web fonts with the @font-face attribute. Demo
  • Transparency with RGBA and HSLA:  hsla(240, 100%, 50%, 0.5);
  • The Query Selectors API that is standard in Firefox, IE, and Safari: document.querySelectorAll(".alert");
  • Web fonts in SVG
  • Fully passing the ACID 3 test with 100/100
  • Inline spell checker (very handy)
  • Many other features

It looks like this release is absolutely packed with new features and improvements and in many ways is catching up to the major players and surpassing them in other ways.

Estimated Release Date: September 2009

Download Opera 10 rc

Upcoming Web Browser: Internet Explorer 9?

Internet Explorer 9 is coming. The number 9 is a guess, but Microsoft is not getting left behind in the web browser scene again. With Internet Explorer 8 being released 5 months ago in March 2009, we have little information so far as to what is going to be included in the next release. We knew two things Microsoft is doing, they are asking customers for feedback, and they are investigating HTML 5 features.

In May 2009 Microsoft asked users for feedback about what features they want in the next IE, but so far has not announced any definite plans. To recommend a feature, go to Microsoft Connect.

The second thing we know is that Microsoft has been reading the HTML 5 spec and recently posted feedback on the public W3 mailing list. This indicates they are interested in building HTML 5 features into their next web browser; although, at this point its anybodies guess as to what they would implement. We await more information.

Estimated Release Date: 2012?

Upcoming Web Browser: Mozilla Firefox 3.6

With Mozilla Firefox 3.6 the team is shifting to a shorter release schedule, so enhancements reach users sooner. It’s quite likely we’ll see more incremental releases, including Firefox 3.6 which is scheduled for release just six months after Firefox 3.5.

The next version of Firefox will be faster because of improvements to the TraceMonkey JavaScript engine and because of a focus on improving startup time performance. An asynchronous location bar and improved scrolling on Windows should also provide a noticeable speed improvement. The next version will feature the Gecko 1.9.2 rendering engine.

Dromaeo in Firefox 3.6

UI changes include tab previews of other open websites when you use the CTRL-TAB keyboard shortcut (currently you must turn it on with the browser.ctrlTab.previews config option), and lightweight themes that don’t require a restart.

CSS3 Features for web developers:

For a concise list of changes, see the Firefox 3.6 for developers wiki page.

Estimated Release Date: January 2010 Update: according to a draft roadmap, release date is set for November 2009.

Download Firefox 3.6 Alpha 1

Browser Notifications with Yip

Yip Icon

Ever wanted your web application to be able to show notifications even if the user may be in another browser tab or application? Now you can!

The relatively new Yip extension for Firefox adds notification functionality. This is not a small JavaScript notification that pops up in the browser tab, but one that integrates directly with the users Operating System.

Yip uses libnotify/notify-osd on Ubuntu Linux, Growl on Mac, and Snarl or Growl for Windows on Windows. If none of these notification applications are installed, it will use Firefox’s simple and not as pretty notification system. Ubuntu Linux users have notify-osd installed by default, Growl is popular with Mac users, yet Windows users probably don’t have Snarl or Growler for Windows installed.

When building with notifications remember that they are meant to enhance the user experience, not require it.

The Yip extension supports both the Fluid and Prism APIs, but recommends Fluid because of support for an onclick callback function.

The API is simple and straight to the point:

window.fluid.showGrowlNotification({
  title: "your notification title",
  description: "some description",
  onclick: optionalCallbackFunction,
  icon: "URL to an icon"
});

Since Yip may not be installed on the users computer, just wrap it with a check for fluid. A complete example looks like this:

if (typeof(fluid) !== 'undefined') {
  window.fluid.showGrowlNotification({
  title: "Hello World",
  description: "The Google icon says Hi",
  icon: "http://www.google.com/favicon.ico"
  });
}

Related Projects

  • Roar: Embed notifications into a web page (powered by MooTools).
  • growl.js: Windows only notifications using Growl for Windows.
  • NotificationAPI: Notifications in Google Gears

Of all these options, Yip is the best solution by far; its fully cross platform, has a simple to use API, and is ready to use. Install Yip now.