As if I didn’t already have enough choice in OS X browsers, along comes another. Shiira is an open source browser, built using Safari’s webkit, that the Japanese developers intend to be “a browser that is better and more useful than Safari”. As it uses the latest verson of webkit, it will only run on 10.3.
The interface, at first glance, looks a lot like Safari. The tabs implementation are almost identical (although tab labels aren’t bold), and the preferences window layout shares many similarities. However, unlike Safari’s interface, Shiira uses a fully customisable Aqua toolbar and bookmarks/history are displayed in a sidebar drawer instead of replacing the window, just like Camino 0.7. Most importantly, it doesn’t have Safari’s elegance or good looks in the toolbar icon department. Take a look at this screenshot and the various icon options being offered. The Jade stone set is the default.
Elements like the icons on the toolbar folders are unnecessary, but like all these things, can be themed however you like! So, to make it more pleasant to use, I’ve thrown together bits from my Camino and Omniweb themes and made a temporary one for Shiira:
If you’d like to try this theme too, download it here (if your browser doesn’t understand .sitx files, you may have to control-click the link and choose ‘save file as..’). All you have to do is go to Shiira’s icon preferences, choose ‘load icons’, and navigate to the ‘ShiiraIcons.plist’ inside the Hickstheme folder. This will load the main toolbar icons. If you want a plain folder icon, these have to copied manually into > Shiira (ctrl-click to choose ‘show package contents’)> contents> resources>. I haven’t redone all the icons, but the main ones are there
There are several advantages in using Shiira:
- Re-orderable Tabs. This is my main reason for feeling excited by Shiira. I use this a lot in Ominweb, and I’m looking forward to when Camino gets the function (soon).
- New Tab button situated to the right of the tabs is quite handy.
- Its fast. Runs faster than Safari for me, and it’s level-pegging with the latest Camino builds for speed. It seems to use the least amount of CPU of all my browsers.
- Customisable search bar, out of the box.
- Option is given to switch between metal or aqua appearance.
- Pace of development seems quite fast.
It shows great promise, even though the interface might not quite be there yet. On one hand it feels a little basic, but then throws in some great features like the drag and drop re-orderable tabs. Another one to keep my eye on…