In particular though, I had a lump in my throat at the new homepage screenshot, that apparently was taken for me:
Very touching! :D
- 2008 21 Apr
- Comment via Twitter
In particular though, I had a lump in my throat at the new homepage screenshot, that apparently was taken for me:
Very touching! :D
Much kudos the Camino developers – Camino 1.5 is released today. With so many new features, such as RSS detection and Session Saving (Ha! Take that one Safari!) it was decided that this was a 1.5, rather than a 1.1 release.
I love Camino. In February last year I wrote about being a Browser Polygamist but only a few days after that post, Camino became my default, and a year and half later, it still is. I never thought that would happen. You can keep your whines about ‘lack of Firefox extensions’, Camino’s Mozilla power and Mac style hits the spot for me everytime. What’s more, its only going to get better.
For a while I’d been toying with the idea of a PimpMyCamino with people from the Mozillazine forums. The backend would be easy enough – just copy PimpMySafari’s Textpattern database tables, and take it from there. However, I became stuck. Not with the content, but with the site design.
As a designer, I felt the expectation was on me to come up with something unique for the site. And so it was for months that ‘PMC’ wouldn’t get off the ground because I never had time to design it.
The project only became unstuck once I decided to give Wordpress a try and use someone else’s pre made theme templates (in this case, the lovely Hemingway). This meant that developement time was cut down to a real minimum. I could simply upload a folder to the site, select it in my preferences, and the site was there, ready for content to be added. While on the one hand I felt guilty, the liberation of being able to get a site up and running in small space of time was incredible. The real work in PMC came when ‘the others’ (Karlheinz, the creator of CamiTools, and David Feare, who had been running a site listing themes and optimised builds for Camino) added the content.
It also gave me the chance to really get to grips with Wordpress. I haven’t tried it since v1.2, when I was originally looking for a replacement for using Textpattern. It was an interesting experience, and I just want to share a wee list of good and bad experiences with it.
For hicksdesign, I still prefer to use Textpattern, but I’ve enjoyed seeing life from the other side.
As for PimpMyCamino, its still very early days, but unlike PimpMySafari, this will be a community driven site, not relying on me to keep it updated!
I never thought this would really happen, but today Camino is finally 1.0. I hope you’ll allow me a moment to celebrate this, and explain why if you’re a Mac user, you should have a copy of Camino in your applications folder.
If you’re not familiar with Camino, first a little background. Camino is an open source browser that embeds the Gecko rendering engine in a native Cocoa interface, instead of the XUL that Firefox uses. This means it doesn’t support Firefox’s extensions, but, it does integrate more with OS X than Firefox (for example opening URLs in Camino via the Services menu or from Apple Address Book). More background information on all that here. Unlike Firefox, Camino, looks, feels and behaves like a true Mac browser, in fact, it was the first OS X only. It has a clean, well designed mac interface with superb crisp icons and some features that Safari lacks.
A few months ago, I wrote about how I was impressed with the recent Camino nightly builds, and how far it’d come since I’d stopped using it a year and a half ago. At the time, I didn’t think it would replace Safari or Omniweb in my affections, because of a lack of features. It still hasn’t replaced either, but it has become an equal default browser alongside Safari or Omniweb (I flit between those 2 a lot until Omnigroup get 5.5 out with WebKit).
First of all, its speedy. Not just in rendering pages, but the whole UI feels snappy and responsive. This in itself makes it such a joy to use. Also, unlike some other browsers, Camino doesn’t seem to get bogged down by a large history cache. So while it doesn’t autocomplete bookmarks, it does do it for items in the history. I have a cache going back to July (almost 8000 items), and its stored all those urls without any performance issues.
While Camino doesn’t support XUL extensions, there is a range of extensions and apps available for extending Camino. First I highly recommend that (if you haven’t already) install CamiScript and CamiTools. These provide plenty of extra spice, from Ad Blocking, Bookmark Syncing and theming, to site styles and advanced preferences. See this thread for more.
Also, Mozilla bookmarklets play nicely in Camino too, so that goes a long way to filling the gap left by the Web Developers extension.
There are also those little things that help the Camino experience:
(To pre-empt some of the inevitable “I would use Camino if only it..” comments)
As well as the move to using Cairo Vector graphics, which will mean an end to using Quickdraw and a move to the Core graphics rendering.
In short I love Camino. While it doesn’t have the extensibility of Firefox, or the features of Omniweb, it is a fast, lightweight browser thats made precisely for that job. Rather than open Firefox to get a gecko view of a site, its Camino for me everytime. Its not the browser I use all the time, but its certainly a browser I use most of the time.
The Camino developers should be proud of themselves for releasing such a nimble, honed, browser. I’m certainly proud of them, for sticking to their guns, demanding that there be a native OS X gecko-based browser.
Back in January 2003, when I first discovered that there more options for browsing in OS X than IE and Netscape, Camino (then called ‘Chimera’) became my browser of choice. The first beta of Safari had just come out, and while showing promise, it didn’t become something I wanted to use every day until v1.2 came out the following year, and discovering Saft. For at least a year, it was Camino all the way.
Ever since Saftari though, my Camino usage has become almost zero, although I still pulled down the latest nightly every few weeks to check up on whats been happening. Its been a slow process (let’s not forget that Camino is run and developed by volunteers), but Camino 0.9 alpha is out there, and there are many improvements that demand attention.
When I first started using it, it looked awful, It had ugly, over-complicated toolbar icons, and the interface lacked a little polish. It was this that started my obsession with browser theming. Its come a long way since then. It now sports Jasper Hausers lush new icons and the toolbar uses the latest ‘unified toolbar’ look, which I’m definitely a fan of.
First of all it’s fast – easily the fastest browser I have on my Macs. It feels responsive and nimble. All the bookmarklets and apps like TiddlyWiki that only work in Firefox/Mozilla, work in Camino too, but with the added bonus of having a cocoa wrapper with services integration (I’m not clear on Camino’s Applescript support – anyone got a comment on that?)
Its also the only Mac browser to support 10.2, 10.3 and 10.4. If you’re concerned about Safari engine being too closely tied to the OS, Camino may be what you’re looking for.
Finally, they’ve added important features such as autofill, and (what was my biggest bugbear), a global history menu. These 2 were key usability obstacles for me. The browsers tabs finally got their own look (rather than using the system tabs, which were intended for things like preferences), and it makes the world of difference.
Having said all that, its still not my browser of choice. If you’re looking for just ‘a good browser’, Camino will probably suit. For me, there are a few key things that I miss, such as session saving, that I get from Omniweb, Firefox or Saftari. The lack of extensibility is a drawback for me, although things are looking up on that front. Over the last year or so CamiTools have been evolving nicely, and give hope for the future.
Om Malik stated ‘Camino is Firefox done right for Mac’. Its not quite, but its getting there. If there was such as thing as a Cocoa Firefox, I’d be using it in a flash. Alas, Firefox’s extensions use XUL, and Camino is Cocoa, so its not to be. Camino is definitely one to keep an eye on though.
I posted this as a browser news sidenote earlier today, but I think it’s worth mentioning this significant event here too. Until now, all the paid workers at the Mozilla Foundations were those on Mozilla/Firefox. The Camino project – embedding the gecko rendering in a native cocoa browser was undertaken entirely by volunteers, mainly Mike Pinkerton. They didn’t just work on Camino though, as I understand it, Mike also helped produce the Mac builds of Mozilla. (As an aside, read this fascinating interview at Ars Technica).
Josh Aas is a fairly recent addition to the the Camino development team, and he’s helped bring new life to the project. Now, in a move that shows solid commitment from Mozilla to the Mac platform, they’ve hired Josh. This is great news, and makes me very hopeful for the Mac future of Firefox and Camino. All the best with your new role Josh!
Update : Josh has clarified his new role further. It seems that his role will cover Firefox, Thunderbird and Camino, and code that is shared amongst these 3. This is just fantastic news, and I can’t wait to see what happens.
Many users are divided over Apple’s use of brushed metal windows. My personal feeling is that I like it in certain apps, but not others. It’s overuse by Cupertino seems to have given many independent software developers the impetus to use brushed metal too, in an attempt to ‘keep up’. While the Human Interface Guidelines are full of good solid reasoning, it doesn’t help when Apple go against them, and then produce beautiful interfaces as a result. It feels as if the pressure is on – you must use metal for your app to look cool and sell.
I’ve been following what John Gruber has to say on the matter with interest, there are two excellent articles about this subject, and I’ll try not to go over old ground, but there is one argument I’ve not heard before, and it’s the reason I like Safari’s metal interface – differentiation. Take a look at this example of one of my favourite sites in Camino:
and now in Safari:
I don’t know about you, but I find the Safari one much more pleasant to look at, because there is a clear demarkation between what is the browser, and what is the web page. I haven’t done a survey, but I’d be willing to bet that a large majority of web sites have white, or at least pale backgrounds. In the standard aqua coloured window the distinction isn’t as immediately clear. I’m not sure why this thinking doesn’t extend to other areas such as text documents, but there it is. I like differentiation.
(Having said all that, one thing that does give me that differentiation in a non-metal app, is the grey tab background on my safari style tabs for Firefox…
I find that the darker grey is just enough to create a visual separation.)
I feel like a boy who’s been told that there’s no Christmas this year. The news from Mike Pink is that there may not be Camino 8 until next year. The last milestone release of Camino came out in early March, and since then there has been the huge upheaval of AOL sending Mozilla out to fend for itself. Mike is now one of a very small team (I’d heard it was 3?) developers working on Camino. Its great that he won’t let it die, but frustrating that there aren’t more hands to help. It seems that Camino’s direction, development and communication all rests heavily on the shoulders of someone who has a life too, and simply hasn’t the time.
For those OS X users who haven’t tried Mozilla’s Camino, these are my reasons for using it over Safari:
Having said that, Safari has autofill, the ability to spoof user agents, and an elegant interface. Camino’s buttons make it look as rough as an old badger, and uses standard OS X tabs, which doesn’t help.
I don’t want Camino to go. Its a great little browser, with fantastic potential, but I fear the silence and passing of time with no roadmap or release dates will mean that it will just grind to a halt.
I’ve just tweaked my metal theme for Camino to work with Aqua and Panther. It’s essentially the same, but the toolbar icons have been reworked to be brighter and not so heavy around the edges. Its also got a hint of graphite colour just to lift it.
Until the current speed problems with the metal theme and the searchbar are ironed out, I’m using a Panther OS theme from ResExcellence. I’m not normally a fan of these things, but it looks more professional than aqua pinstripes.
The good news from Mike Pinkerton is that Camino development is still carrying on. Things have been a little quiet of late, but he reports:
“I’ve got a couple people working on the download manager as well as a full bookmark infrastructure rewrite in progress by someone else.”
Now that the hoo-haa has died down after Safari’s 1.0 release (which crashes at least 3 times a day – my latest nightly build of Camino hasn’t crashed once!), hopefully Camino will get a chance to shine. Mike also reported CNETs comparison of Camino and Safari with glee. I hope it continues to cheer him up…
Finally, I’ve finished (for now) the new theme for camino. Intended for use with a metal interface, it contains new icons, buttons and splash screens for nearly the entire camino set.
Click here for information, previews and download…
I’ve just uploaded a couple of new buttons to the camino resources page – Open Tab and Close Tab. My intention is to add to this set in the future (maybe even get round to doing a full set?!). I’d like to have a go at things like the popup unblocker icon.
I’ve also updated the Metal theme to work with the recent nightly build – 17th May – which includes the popup unblocker. As new features get introduced into Camino, you will need to check here for a new version (or else those nice new features won’t work!).
Finally, there is an issue of speed when using the metal theme with recent nightlies. If you have the google search in the toolbar, it will be slower to scroll and type inside textfields (can be quite painful actually!). Unfortunately, there is nothing that can be done about this (and don’t bother Mozilla about it, this is a hack, not part of their original application). This may change as the nightlies change, who knows?
Camino has just had a nice feature added to it. If pop-up blocking is turned on, a wee icon appears to let you know when a site is trying to open a pop-up window. Clicking this lets you unblock pop-ups for that particular site. (Useful for sites like the Mull Historical Society where the popups are worthwhile ). See Mike Pinkertons weblog Sucking less, on a budget.
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