Hicks

Omniweb wishlist II

Since my first Omniweb Wishlist, 2 of the wishes have happened, RSS feeds now open in new tabs, and its merged with the latest webcore. Since then, 5.1 has been released, and the list has grown somewhat.

I use a mixture of Omniweb and Safari all the time now. Nowadays, Firefox only gets opened up for DOM inspecting or javascript debugging, and Camino hasn’t been used in over a year. The main thing that makes me use Safari is that its interface is a whole lot easier on the eye than Omniweb. OW has the all features I want (apart from find as you type, which I get from Saft), but after prolonged use, areas of the UI make me long for Safari. It’s probably just the designer in me, but I desire a little more ‘OS X slickness’ that other apps have. The tab drawer and bookmark manager feel just right, but other areas let it down for me.

So here are a few wishes.

Interface tweaks -remove the drawer?

When I have Mail, Ecto, xPad and others open, I get a bit sick of flippin’ drawers everywhere, and long for a simplified outline like Safari.

Here’s an idea. Apps like Ecto and NetNewsWire have started adopting the interface evolution shown in the Tiger version of Mail, and its worked well for them. The fact that Apple has removed the drawer from Mail makes me wonder if many other apps will continue to use it? Anyway, here’s a mockup of how Omniweb could look with these sorts of changes:

screenshot - click for larger image
Click for full sized mockup

As you can see, the tabs become more like a sidebar. This screenshot also includes mockups of other wee interface changes I’d like to see:

  • Download Manager – Aqua alternate row striping to differentiate each item, and larger file icons, as in Safari, NetNewsWire 2, Transmit 3 and Unison.
  • Favourites Bar – No folder icons or shadow. A bit more safarish I guess.

RSS Reader

Omniweb’s RSS Reader is so almost there as a useful aggregator. It has more features than you might expect from an in-browser solution, but its drawbacks are:

  • The only way to read excerpts is to view the feed bookmark with ‘site info’ showing.
  • Omniweb doesn’t seem to handle large amounts of feeds very well. With 150+ feeds, my bookmarks refuse to synchronise with .mac (but works fine once they’re removed). There were also other performance issues until I deleted all the feeds.
  • You can’t set a frequency to update feeds globally. If you have ‘never’ checked in your preferences, each feed you add has a daily frequency applied to it despite this. So if you only want to check manually, you have edit the preferences for each feed individually.

This is how I’d like to see RSS incorporated:

  • Keep them as bookmarks, but treat them separately. In the same way that you can view bookmarks as a tab, have the ability to view RSS feeds in a tab, with a simple 2 or 3 paned interface, like the bookmark manager. All the information is already there – source, headline, dates, excerpts, I wonder if it would be hard to bring them together in a new interface?
  • Have the preference to pass auto-detected feeds onto your default RSS Reader if you don’t want to use the in-built one.
  • It’d be great if the dock menu didn’t hide feeds over a certain amount. The greyed out ‘more’ doesn’t allow you to see the rest of the feeds. NetNewsWire overcomes this by scrolling if it needs to.

Other functionality I’d love to see at some point

  • Find as you type – FIrefox has an excellent implementation of this, but currently Omniweb will only do this with links. (There is a hidden preference which you can enable via the terminal, but its not something OmniGroup have worked on, and it will only find the first instance of your search term)
  • I’d like a better idea of when Omniweb is doing something. Whether its still checking RSS feeds, synchronising bookmarks or whether those activites have finished. The Activity window tells you this, but I would find a Growl message more useful. Growl is already an excellent system wide notification app, and many apps have started using it. There are many apps already supporting Growl.
  • Apply custom CSS files per-site in the site preferences.
  • Drag and drop tabs between workspaces in the workspaces window. So if you have some tabs that you want to move to another workspace, you can move them, or alt-drag them to copy them across.
  • Open a search in a new tab. The Location bar supports this with cmd-enter, but not the search field
  • Saft has a great feature whereby a search is triggered by selecting a different search engine from the search fields drop down menu, rather than having to additionally press enter.
  • A preference to always show the tab drawer. When new windows open drawer-less, and then shift as tabs are opened, is mildly annoying. (I always have the drawer on the left).
  • A preference to disable the focus rings around the search box.

Bugs

No application is perfect, and everyone has their list of pet hates they’d rather were fixed sooner rather than later. This is mine.

  • The pixellated search bar after resizing the window
  • Moving bookmarks and folders in the bookmark manager creates a duplicate. This one is really starting to annoy me.
  • View Source: This still has the bug whereby you sometimes get the external css file, or even garbage code instead of just the HTML.

Everyone’s a critic eh?

So yeah, a long list. Don’t get the wrong impression though, its still very much a favourite. I’m just looking forward to seeing what Omnigroup do with it next.