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Omniweb theme 1.2

Since last weeks update, I’ve not only refined the Safari style buttons, but the iTunes style buttons too. These look miles better, so if you’re using the round buttons, please re-download and install.

iTunes style buttons

This will be the last update to the Omniweb theme for a while, but I will be updating my Camino theme with these new icons soonish.

Download the Tiger theme for Omniweb 5.5 (888k)

Tiger Theme for Omniweb 5.5

I’ve finally updated my Omniweb theme to work with the sneaky peeks

Tiger theme for Omniweb 5.5

Changes for this version include:

  • New Icons: Mark page, Next Mark, Previous Mark, Favourites Folder, News Feed Folder. Thanks go to Dan Carson who created the ‘Mark page’ and ‘Favourites folder’ icons.
  • Added ‘small size’ icons for the main toolbar icons.
  • Improved close tab icons.
  • Added the large bookmarks image for the tab drawer.
  • Redone splash page.
  • It no longer replaces the Omniweb application icon.
  • Downloads window – tweaked to allow it to be resized narrower (like Safari). This may compress text when smaller, but I prefer a narrower window
  • Workspaces window- Changed from a ‘utility’ window to a normal one, with margins removed.
  • *New Change (4.5.06)*- Improved the smoothness of the Safari-esque buttons. Please re-download and re-install to get the improved icons.

As before, if you want to pick and choose which icons you want to install, all the original files are included, as well as goodies folders of applescripts and sample workspaces. Don’t forget to back up Omniweb first.

Download the Tiger theme for Omniweb 5.5 (888k)

A quick guide to Omniweb 5.5 sp6

Omniweb 5.5 is finally a public beta! It felt like it would never see the light of day, but here it is. To get it, you need to register on the new Omnigroup Forums, and then view this thread for download information.

Screenshot of 5.5 on Flickr

Notable changes in this version are:

  • Omnigroup have converted Omniweb to use WebKit, rather than Webcore rendering. In fact 5.5 is using a more up to date version of WebKit than Safari is – its the one that enables unstyled form buttons. (See this post by Dave Hyatt for more information). All Omniweb’s previous problems with sites like Flickr are past!
  • With the change of rendering, Omniweb is much, much faster. I’d say as fast as Safari is on my powerbook. I never thought I’d describe Omniweb as ‘snappy’, but thats how it is!
  • While the system-wide dictionary look-up doesn’t appear in the context menus, the keyboard shortcut – Apple Ctrl D – works just fine.
  • You can now specify CSS rules per site, as part of the extensive site preferences feature. On a site you want to change, select the CSS file to use, and the view is immediately updated! Per site CSS is nothing new to Mozilla browsers, but this has a nice easy GUI, as well as instant gratification!
  • There are still a few Omniweb features that need re-implementing, most importantly the wonderful zoomed text editor. For anyone not familiar with this, it provides a separate window for writing and editing text in textareas. I hope that gets back in soon.
  • Pop up windows are now opened as new tabs.
  • Finally – unified toolbars! Hallelujah!

The focus on this release was very much on the huge code change from Webcore to Webkit, so its nice to see new features like per site CSS sneak in.

Last, but not least, the spanky new Web Inspector (DOM Inspector to you and I) works too. To enable this is a similar process to Safari. Open Terminal and type:

defaults write com.omnigroup.OmniWeb5 WebKitDeveloperExtras -bool true

Next time you launch Omniweb, the ‘Inspect Element’ command is found in the context menu. I love the iLIfe/Aperture style HUD inspector, and use this a lot to look at styles affecting elements in the DOM.

Finally, if you want to hide the stripey ‘Under Construction’ banner in the toolbar, type this into Terminal (as of the new sp7 release):

defaults write com.omnigroup.OmniWeb5 HideConstructionWarning -bool true

While I’m still hoping for updates and improvements to Omniweb’s interface, this release makes it feel great again. This just causes me more browser indecision!

A wee note for anyone using my Omniweb theme. Don’t – not on 5.5 anyway. It adds some images that Omniweb no longer needs, and seems to muck things up a bit. I’ll try and get a revised theme out soon.

Spotlight indexing considered chuffing annoying

Until recently, Omniweb 5 was running significantly slower on my G5 than my lesser spec-ed G4 Powerbook. It was snappy on the powerbook, but sluggish on the G5. Both machines have near-identical files, as they are daily kept in sync with Chronosync. I couldn’t see how the better spec Mac was so slow.

After a post I made to the Omniweb Mailing List about this, the culprit was found to be Spotlight. There seems to be a known bug, whereby OS X can can forget privacy settings for a removable firewire drive. Therefore, every morning when I attached my powerbook to my G5 via target disk mode for syncing, the system would start re-indexing the powerbook.

Stopping the indexing resulted in a much happier G5, and in particular the apps that were using the most CPU – Omniweb and Fireworks.

I’ve seen a few suggestions bandied about for this – but most involve disabling spotlight altogether. I actually find spotlight rather handy, so would prefer to keep this on. Another suggestion involved adding the drive name to a hidden preference file, but ‘Macintosh HD’ could cause some problems there.

If anyone has discovered a way around this – please let me know!

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.


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.

Hicksdesign theme for Omniweb 5

For that <1% of the Hicksdesign readership that use it, here is the Hicksdesign theme for Omniweb 5.

Download the theme here


Please note, I am using Nathan Skinner’s Tiger Theme, in these screenshots:

Overview (click for full sized image)
overall view

Toolbar (click for full sized image)
customise toolbar view

Download Manager
download manager


Status Bar
status bar

Source Editor
source editor


This has been a personal project since February, and even though its not finished, I feel the need to get something out as a starting point. The thing is, there are so many flippin’ icons in Omniweb, and while I don’t want to change them all, I do want to change a lot of them. The goal here (as always) was not to create a highly original theme. I just wanted something that blended into OS X as much as possible.

Originally, the theme was a redraw of my Camino theme, but I tried a straight rip-off of the safari/finder style buttons, and found that I much preferred this look. This is now the main style, but the rounder ‘iTunes’ style is there as an additional installation option. The rest of the icons are partly inspired by Stephen Horlanders icons for Firefox (mainly the history and RSS feed icon), but I’ve redrawn these myself, rather just steal them!

I have also supplied a ‘restore’ installer if you want to revert back to the original icons.

Also in the download, is a folder called ‘Goodies’, which contains extra applescripts, web badges, workspaces and a very simple shapeshifter theme, to remove the shadow on the bookmarks toolbar. Most people will probably like to keep the shadow, and even those that aren’t, probably wouldn’t go to the extent of installing a theme just for that. In short, if you want to use it, its there.

Huge thanks to Buzz Anderson of SciFiHiFi who answered my plea and set me up with Iceberg project files for creating the installer. Thanks Buzz!

Icons still to do:

  • The small bookmark icons
  • The large bookmarks image in the tab drawer
  • Main toolbar icons – Mark Page/Next Mark/Previous Mark

Updates and feedback

I intend to add more replacement icons to this set in the future, as well a improve the existing ones. I’ll be posting details of updates to my ‘OS X Browser News’ section, so the RSS feed will let you know when new versions are uploaded.

I’d particularly like your feedback on the status bar icons. Should they be in colour, or stay grey, or a combination of the 2? I can’t decide, but I’ve gone with mainly grey icons in this release. If you do like the theme, but there is a particular button that you use that I’ve not covered yet, let me know.

Update – I’ve done a quick to revision to solve a couple of issues people were having. Please re-download.

Help wanted: Creating a browser theme installer

I’m in the slow process of getting my Omniweb 5 theme ready for public consumption, and it strikes me that something like an applescript would probably enable the easy install of a bunch of image files into an applications hidden resource folder. Normally you would have to ctrl click an app, choose ‘show package contents’ from the context menu, and then navigate through the hidden folders to dump replacement images. Not the hardest job in the world, but I feel it could be so much simpler.

The trouble is, I start to look at such things and whooooosh (motions a plane swooping over the head).

If anyone has the skills to pay these particular bills, advice or pointers, please drop me a line, or leave a comment here. I’d be very grateful for any help!

Some Omniweb 5 tricks you might not know

  • This is my favourite! Pressing Enter will trigger any ‘next page’ links. When looking through search results in photo libraries, this feature is a god send.
  • Option_apple_b will open up the bookmarks manager in a new window, even if you have it set to appear in the browser.
  • Option clicking a toolbar bookmark folder highlights the name for editing.
  • Double clicking a tab will close it, and open that page in a new window
  • Double clicking the sites favicon will open the site in a new window, without closing the first instance.
  • Double clicking a bookmark toolbar folder will open all the bookmarks in tabs. Dragging the folder to the tab drawer does the same.
  • Drag a finder-level folder onto the window to reveal its contents. This has the added benefit of revealing the iPod’s hidden music folders too! (thanks Sean)
  • To export the page as one long PDF with no page breaks, type option-shift-command-s. Holding down option while exposing the File menu will also reveal this menu. (Thanks to Nick Matsakis)
  • If you select some text before outputting to pdf, it will be saved with the highlighted text.

Omniweb 5 wishlist

Now that Omniweb 5 is finally released after many months of beta releases, we now have a sturdy, feature filled Webcore based alternative to Safari. For anyone that uses a lot of tabs, OW is godsend, but I’m left with just a few niggles that I would love to see changed in the next version:

  • Preference for ‘Always show tab drawer’. When you have tabs set to open on the left, its annoying when new windows shift when the tab drawer opens.
  • RSS feeds to open in new tabs, not windows.
  • Improve the look of the download manager. Safari gets this right. Its particularly bad when OW is downloading. The text is badly compressed. Just ugly.
  • Use the latest webcore (this is planned for 5.1)
  • Remove the ‘image well’ shadow from the bookmarks toolbar, or introduce a Tiger style Mail.app look. I’ve actually created a shapeshifter theme just to remove this shadow. I know, you don’t have to tell me I have no life.
  • Ability to save the current set up as workspace, rather than having to create a new space and set it all up first.

I also think the documentation could be a little less waffley and childish. Humour is a difficult one to pull off – and with the PDF manual I felt myself saying “For goodness sake, just get on with it!!!”.

Apologies for yet another browser related post.

New Browsers

After excitedly downloading the Omniweb 5 Beta yesterday, I was all prepared to give a critique, but as usual, John Gruber says it best.

Suffice to say that OW 5 shows a lot of promise, but the beta crashes and hangs too much too often to use it for any length of time. The thumbnail tabs are wonderful and I’m no longer a sceptic. The toolbar icons are not to my taste though. I feel a browser theme coming on…

There’s more activity on the browser front – Safari 1.2 has just been released, and is even zippier, as well as adding few more features. Safari Enhancer and PithHelmet have both been updated to work with 1.2. There are bug fixes too: The aggressive caching issue is fixed, so I no longer have to use Firebird to view Dunstans Blog. Dan Cederholm reports that the hover bug is fixed too. This was causing my site logo to stick on ‘home’, so I’m glad to see the back of that. The one downside is that you now have to use Panther to get the updates – Jaguar users have to stick with 1.0.

Also, Firebird 0.8 is due out next Monday. In the nightly builds annoying OS X bugs such as no new browser window when clicking the dock icon, have been fixed, and its looking good.

OmniWeb 5

For the past year I’ve been dithering between Camino, Safari and Firebird as my default browser on OSX, unable to settle with one. They’re all really good, but each one has something that niggles me or leaves me wanting. In Camino its the lack of autofill and its centered tabbed browsing. In Safari, it’s the lack of toolbar customisability, its icons and non-configurable pop-up blocking. Firebird is the one that comes damn close, but at the end of the day, its not a cocoa app, so no native form widgets and (more importantly) I can’t use the funk in the services menu like ‘subscribe in NetNewsWire’ or ‘Encode into HTML’ (Character Convertor).

One other browser that I’ve been really impressed with was Omniweb 4.5. Its heavily laden with features, but that doesn’t seem to slow it down. It now uses the WebCore Framework (Safari’s rendering engine), so its CSS and Javascript problems are in the past. One of my favourite features is its form editor. Everytime you come across a textfield, you’ll see a small icon the scrollbar -click that and a larger editing window zooms out. This is particularly useful when fiddling with MovableType templates. I’m not keen on OW’s back/forward/stop toolbar icons, but that can be changed. The real drawback was the lack of tabbed browsing. Why pay $30 for a browser, when all the free ones supply this important feature? So I’ve been waiting for news of the next version, in which the Omni Group promised to bring in Tabs.

Finally, details have been released of Omniweb 5, but I couldn’t help give a huge sigh of disappointment (and feel a little angry) when I saw how they were going to implement tabs. The Omniweb way is going to be a side drawer with thumbnails of each site. If you’ve ever opened a multi-page PDF in Apple Preview, you’ll have an idea of how this will look.

This seems a very odd move. For a start, its screen-hungry. It might not be too bad on a widescreen PowerBook, but on normal proportion monitors it looks as if it’ll steal far too much space. Also, if there are more thumbnails than there is space for, you need to scroll down and then select one. Traditional tabs mean that everything is just one, easy click away. They obviously felt the need to be different – now that it uses the safari rendering engine, they have to work harder to convince users to buy something they effectively already have.

There are some interesting new features, such as an in-built RSS reader and ‘workspaces’ which allow you to save a set of tabs. There’s a google search box to compete with the others – but they’ve also included an interface to add your own search engines. (Safari and Camino require fiddling to do this, while Firebird has a wide selection of add-ons available from Mozdev’s Mycroft). The new page marker feature looks like Safari’s ‘snapback’ in all but name, but the ability to save preferences for each site (pop-ups, text size etc) looks handy. It all looks really promising, with just the tab-thumbnails dampening my enthusiasm.

Having said that, I’m slowly starting to come around to this new approach to tabbed browsing. When the public beta becomes available in February, I’m going to be eager to try it out.

Update: If you want to see how the new tabs work, have a look at this movie. This shows that you can view sites as a list, rather than thumbnails, as well as resize the thumbnails.

Update II: Omniweb 5 was previewed at the MacWorld Expo in San Francisco this week, and Your Mac Life have a video interview with David Kasprzyk from the OminGroup. The video shows that it has the ability to resize the tab thumbnails, from huge to tiny. Looks even more promising….

YML at MWSF – Omniweb 5 Movie