There’s a new beta of Omniweb out, which (among other things) incorporates the latest version of Webcore, the open source rendering engine behind Safari.
As has been written elsewhere, the Omnigroup choose to eschew Apple’s Webkit, which is the “built into the OS” component that gives software develops access to the same rendering engine used by Safari. Instead, they took the source code and (more or less) built their own, propritary “web kit”.
This no doubt gave them more flexibility (and geeky errections), but until now they were one browser version behind Apple. This release fixes that. It also creates a solution for a niggling problems facing Mac based web developers.
When Safari 1.0 was first released, the current Apple operating system version was 10.2. Apple made a bunch of improvments to the Webcore rending engine, and then released Safari 1.1. By the time they did this, the current Apple operating system was 10.3. Safari 1.1 would only run on 10.3. If a user was stuck on 10.2 for some reason, they were stuck using Safari 1.0’s inferior rendering engine.
If you’re a web developer, this means you needed to keep a 10.2 machine around to test your work on, or else tell those users they’re on their own.
It never occurred to me before this, but Omniweb offers a second option. Since version 5.0 uses the old rendering engine, and version 5.1 uses the new rendering engine, you can keep both browsers on a mac running 10.3 or a mac running 10.2. Not only do developers not need to sacrifice a machine to 10.2, users stuck using 10.2 now have access to a current version of the Safari rendering engine.