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Sunday, July 26, 2009

For web browsers, the future is now

Author's note: I just uncovered a draft of this post, which was written during Safari 4's public beta. It was almost finished, but for some reason I had forgotten all about it. Since it is just as (ir)relevant today as it was then, I'm publishing it now.

Yesterday I read this in a mail from Agile Web Solutions, makers of the beloved 1Password:
Last week Apple released a new Beta of Safari 4 and I’m blown away by how great it is! While it will take some time to get used to the new tabs, I’m very excited about the new features, especially the ability to resize images when zooming the page.

It seems every other year or so I hear someone gushing about how their favourite browser's new version sports some amazing innovative new feature, and each time it's something Opera has had since the nineties. There must be some kind of fundamental law at work here, and I am sure careful analysis of Opera's changelog would yield an accurate timetable of future "innovations" in other browsers. Obviously, "careful research" is way too much work for me, but this being a blog I am allowed to just make it all up. So today, I proudly present you with the future of web browsers:


  • Safari now seamlessly saves open tabs on exit and restores them on restart

  • In Firefox, cmd-z reopens just-closed tabs


  • At Macworld, Apple announces Safari will support mouse gestures "in a future version"

  • Firefox drops the "you are about to close x open tabs" dialog box

  • The major browsers finally figure out the right implementation of History-Back on sites that use POST requests


  • Internet Explorer 9 has a "downloads" window that is not entirely useless

  • Safari now remembers which filetypes to open (and with which application) and which filetypes to save (and where)

  • Firefox finds a way to save passwords without making them readable by anyone who happens to walk by the computer


  • All major browsers now support unified full-text search of bookmarks, history and the web, all from the address field

  • Internet Explorer gets keyboard navigation so good that using a mouse at all is entirely optional

  • Firefox gets auto-fill that works with more than one account per site

  • History in Safari becomes vaguely usable


  • IE's new popup blocker gives you more than .6 seconds to react when you *do* want a popup to open

  • Firefox now requires only three clicks to download all links from a web page (eg. an ftp index page)

  • Safari offers bookmarks syncing across computers. For free.

And finally, circa 2029

  • Mozilla presents Firefox 17, the first version to require less than a dozen plug-ins to be any good

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