Tag Archive for 'Safari'

Ditching Safari RSS

I have finally stopped using Safari‘s built-in feed aggregator [Wikipedia]. It’s not that it’s a bad feed client – I actually think it’s quite good for providing basic functionality. It’s also not that that I wanted to use a more advanced stand-alone package (I have plenty of other software toys to amuse me). No the main reason was that it was simply affecting my productivity.

Essentially the simple beauty of the way Safari RSS works is also a curse. Feed subscriptions are stored as bookmarks and appear within the normal bookmark interface with the number of new articles shown in parenthesis. So, every time you navigate the bookmark feature your mind is distracted by other people’s latest blog posts.

It’s even worse if you organise your browser bookmarks the way I do – all either on the Bookmarks toolbar or in sub-folders of the toolbar. Consequently I always have an advert in my browser window trying to entice me away from whatever productive I’m work I’m trying to do. For an avid blog reader, it’s just as poisonous as the dreaded email notification icon.

So I had to free myself. Consequently, I’ve turned Safari’s RSS features off and installed a separate standalone feed aggregator, Vienna. I’ve not tried any others but it seems nice enough. It has smart folders as well as conventional ones and I think I’ll be much more effective at organising my feed subscriptions now that they are separate from my browser bookmarks.

Tip for anyone else considering dumping Safari RSS: See Export OPML out of Safari RSS [macosxhints.com] for a quick and easy way to migrate your feed subscriptions into your new feed reader – assuming, it can import OPML files [Wikipedia].

I’ve also found some side benefits of the change:

  1. Safari is now ever-so-slightly less of a randomly crashing memory hog with the RSS feature turned off.
  2. If Safari continues to annoy me with it’s randomness there’s no more RSS shackle stopping me from going back to using Camino.

Flock is a flop

I installed Flock, the “social” browser yesterday and set it as my default web application. Less than 24 hours later I’ve reverted back to a pimped-up Safari.

Flock is a nice idea, nicely done, but somewhat lacking. The built-in blog editor is nice, but primitive in its capabilities. Far more useful is the shelf feature and the ability to drag and drop HTML snippets and images. These are valuable but not the main purpose of a web browser.

On the Mac OS, WebKit browsers are, inevitably, faster than Gecko ones. That’s not a simple trade-off as Gecko is arguably the better rendering engine. I keep Camino as a backup browser to Safari precisely for those web pages that don’t work correctly in WebKit. Unfortunately Flock suffers doubly in the performance stakes. Not only is the Gecko engine slower but so is the UI – and that’s where the difference is really felt.

Flock is basically a bunch of bundled themes and extensions over Firefox with its XUL interface. XUL is all very well but its not the native API for Mac OS, or indeed any other platform. So it’s a hodgepodge that kind of looks okay but is a bit sluggish and quirky to boot. I can tolerate the non-standard widgets. But what I can’t stand is the slow response to key presses and mouse-clicks. I end up penta-clicking in the search bar in an effort to “select all”. (It’s only a triple-click in just about any other Windows or Mac app.)

I’ve not tried Firefox on a Mac but on Windows the UI is just about bearable. With Flock on Mac OS I found it just too irritating to use. It’s not that the UI is badly designed: it’s quite smart actually. But all that XUL results in an unpolished finish that wouldn’t be out of place on a Linux desktop. If I was happy with that I wouldn’t be using Mac OS.