The Year in Browsing: The Little Engine That Could

By the end of last year one long-standing competitor to Opera ceased to develop its browsing engine. No, I am not thinking of Netscape, that browser was dead when it was bought by AOL, but an old Opera favourite, iCab. From now on iCab will use WebKit as the engine, in effect turning it into a WebKit skin, like OmniWeb before it. This is more sad and nostalgic, OmniWeb was always about the UI anyway, while iCab showed that two skilled and dedicated programmers could compete in making a browser that (some) people actually wanted to use.

This is not to say that it wasn’t a sensible, rational, and reasonable business decision. iCab can prosper more easily now that as tiny team can focus on the one thing closest to their users, and leave site compatibility to the much larger group of WebKit developers and evangelists. My next :beer: will be on them. However, this leaves the choice on the Mac platform to three, WebKit (Safari, OmniWeb, and now iCab), Gecko (primarily Firefox, but also Camino and others), and Presto (Opera). In general the trend on any operating system is less choice, not more, and this trend is likely to continue. There is unlikely to be a radical new browsing engine in 2008 or in 2009, the choice is instead going to be among the existing ones.

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  1. It’s sad that they decided to stop developing iCab engine. It is pretty good at CSS standards handling, sometimes better than even Opera and WebKit.Also I like the smily face at toolbar that clearly shows what pages is standard compliant.From other point of view it is now clear that companies such as Google, Yahoo and Microsoft will never provide support on their popular services for such small browser as iCab.BTW, it is still being browser of choise for those who still running pre Mac OS X.


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