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June 10, 2010

Safari 5
Posted by Avram Grumer at 09:41 PM * 38 comments

Everyone’s heard about Apple’s release of the iPhone G4 on Monday, but less attention was paid to the release of Safari 5. The biggest deal with that is Safari’s new extensions architecture. Apple’s planning to host a gallery of vetted extensions this summer, but until then, if you want to live dangerously, you can check out what people have cooked up at the Safari Extensions Tumblr blog.

But first, if you haven’t already, you’ll need to enable the extensions feature. Before that, of course, you’ll need to upgrade to Safari 5. Mac users can do this through Software Update. If you’re a Windows user using Safari, I dunno, you know your system better than I do. Download it, maybe? If you’re on Linux (and probably if you’re on Windows), you’re running Firefox or Chrome and sneering at our Johnny-come-lately extensions feature. If you’re using MSIE, I’m sorry.

The extensions themselves are easy to install. Just download, double-click the file (maybe unzip it first), and Safari will ask if you want to really install it. Say yes, and Jobs’s your uncle.

Here’s what I’ve installed so far:

  • Plain Gmail by Brad Lindsay — Modifies the mail composing field in Gmail to use your browser’s default fixed-width font. (I like Inconsolata.)
  • YouTube5 by Connor McKay — “This extension removes the need to use flash on YouTube by converting all videos to their HTML5 video tag equivalents. It also has the added benefits of decreased CPU usage compared to flash, and the removal of in-video ads.”
  • Linkify by Nicholas White — Turns plain-text URLs into real hyperlinks.
  • Helvetify by Johan Brook — Sets the current webpage’s font to Helvetica Neue. (I think you probably need to have Helvetica Neue installed on your machine for this to work. Interacts unpredictably with existing stylesheets. I’ll probably remove this one after a while.)
  • BlockTarget by Sven Weidauer — Removes the target attribute from links to keep them from opening in new windows. (I don’t know if this is limited to target="_blank".)
  • Delicious by Paulo César Machado Jeveaux — Opens a new tab with a Delicious bookmark-saving form populated with the current tab’s title and URL. (My Delicious.com bookmarks.)
  • Deanimator by Mat Sadler — Deactivates animated GIFs. (Seems to work automatically on all animated GIFs, rather than allowing you to enjoy clever animations and click something to disable annoying ones.)
  • AdBlock by Michael — Blocks ads.
  • NoMoreiTunes by Florian Pichler — Disables the script that tries to start iTunes when you visit a link to the iTunes Store.

And things I haven’t installed that you might:

Marco Tabini has an article on Macworld with more background about Safari extensions. I think he’s wrong when he says “Safari will refuse to install any extension that has not been signed with a digital certificate issued by Apple”, because Safari happily installed a bunch of unsigned extensions for me.

The other (well, another) exciting new feature is Safari Reader. If you’re familiar with Arc90’s Readability bookmarklet, well, Reader is like that, but built-in. And if you’re not familiar with Readability, then holy crap, go check it out! It takes painfully cluttered web pages with crappy typography and makes them readable!

Update: Something that just occurred to me: Perhaps the regular MacOS X version of Safari 5 will be able to load extensions from arbitrary sources, and the iPhone/iPad version will be locked in to the official Apple gallery with the cryptographic signing and the vetting and the centralized control and the censored genitals. That’d be in keeping with how Apple is handling software on the two platforms.

Comments on Safari 5:
#1 ::: Thena ::: (view all by) ::: June 10, 2010, 10:10 PM:

Hm.

I've been avoiding downloading that upgrade because I hate rebooting and having to reopen all the stuff I keep "on" in the dock.

I suppose I'm going to have to get around to it soon.

#2 ::: NelC ::: (view all by) ::: June 10, 2010, 10:24 PM:

Though there isn't much to lose with a browser, I inherently distrust full integer upgrades (e.g. 4.n -> 5.0) until at least the first bug fix. So I'm going to try to ignore the nagging from Software Upgrade for at least a little while.

#3 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: June 10, 2010, 10:25 PM:

Also worth noting -- some folk have seen ... unusual side-effects after the Safari 5 upgrade. YMMV, yada, yada.

#4 ::: pericat ::: (view all by) ::: June 10, 2010, 10:27 PM:

I had no idea there was that much added. Thanks, Avram!

#5 ::: Bruce Cohen (Speaker to Managers) ::: (view all by) ::: June 11, 2010, 12:36 AM:

NelC @ 2:

I usually feel the same way, but then I remember how the marketing departments of the software companies I've worked for used to determine when to have a point release number and when to have an integer release. Not to put too fine a point on it, the choice usually had nothing whatsoever to do with either the contents or the stability of the release.

#6 ::: Bob Webber ::: (view all by) ::: June 11, 2010, 02:07 AM:

Also of note, FaceBlock, which is an ad blocker specifically aimed at Facebook. Announcement on Vertical Forest here "http://www.verticalforest.com/2010/06/08/faceblock-safari-facebook-ad-blocker/".

#7 ::: Harry Payne ::: (view all by) ::: June 11, 2010, 02:38 AM:

Alas, I am an heretical Mac user, for I cling to my PPC G4 Mini running 10.4 and refuse to upgrade as an orthodox fanboi should; and Saint Jobs has decreedI shall not benefit from his largesse.

#8 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: June 11, 2010, 04:23 AM:

For my birthday this year I upgraded from my PPC G5 iMac to a new iMac model, and boy am I ever happy with it. Night and day. My old machine was constantly giving me the pizza of death, the new one hardly ever. (I actually kind of wonder if the old machine had a faulty memory chip or something -- there were some other indications, such as files becoming corrupted when the machine rebooted.)

#9 ::: Paul Duncanson ::: (view all by) ::: June 11, 2010, 06:35 AM:

Readabiliy is great for decluttering a page but Safari reader has it beaten on one feature that made it (for me) a must-have update (and damn the point-zeroes). Safari reader not only removes the clutter, it makes multi-page articles into one scrollable text. Page breaks are marked but there's no need to go clicking and waiting to find out how the story ends. Readability, alas, even strips out the links to the next page when faced with a multi-page article.

#10 ::: John Chu ::: (view all by) ::: June 11, 2010, 07:34 AM:

I upgraded from my PPC G5 cheese grater when it finally overheated. (This was the model that had the liquid cooled CPU. If I read the web correctly, I should be happy that it didn't leak coolant.) It lasted for about 5 years, including several spiky blackouts, so I'm not complaining too hard.

I like Safari Reader. (Would that Instapaper could also turn multi-page articles into one long page instead.) However, since Reader doesn't do hyphenation, it ought to leave a ragged right. Otherwise, the spacing gets all weird.

As for extensions, I'm holding off on them for now. I don't run many extensions on Firefox or Chrome either.

BTW, I suspect that once extensions become a user feature rather than a developer feature, Apple will change it to accept signed extensions only regardless of platform. The documentation at Apple's developer site is explicit: "You need a certificate before your extension can be installed." (Note though that Safari is also the development environment for extensions. That's a big difference between the desktop and mobile platforms.)

#11 ::: Wesley Osam ::: (view all by) ::: June 11, 2010, 07:36 AM:

Thena, #1: You can set applications to open automatically when your Mac reboots by adding them to the "Login Items" under the "Accounts" preferences pane.

#12 ::: Joel Polowin ::: (view all by) ::: June 11, 2010, 10:49 AM:

FWIW, my Windows box notified me that the Safari update was available, via the Apple software updater. Doing the upgrade was just a matter of telling it to do so.

#13 ::: Andrew Plotkin ::: (view all by) ::: June 11, 2010, 11:57 AM:

I haven't yet seen any discussion of the security implications. Apple's announcement says that extensions run sandboxed -- but (looking at what extensions are already doing) I'd say a malicious extension could turn your browser into a phish-o-matic. Perform arbitrary actions on any web site you log into. (I'd have to experiment to figure out whether it could do this *invisibly*.)

This is a strong motivation for Apple to do app-store-style gatekeeping on extensions. Installing an extension is less dangerous than installing an arbitrary Mac application, but the friction is less and users aren't aware of the threats yet.

#14 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: June 11, 2010, 01:30 PM:

Everyone’s heard about Apple’s release of the iPhone G4 on Monday

I hadn't, until I read this.

#15 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: June 11, 2010, 02:40 PM:

I think I'll delay upgrading until at least a couple of security updates to it happen.

#16 ::: Q. Pheevr ::: (view all by) ::: June 11, 2010, 03:08 PM:

I just upgraded to iCab 4.7.2, and it's working very nicely. It doesn't have extensions, but iCab has had a lot of the same functionality for quite some time now. It filters ads; it lets you right- or ctrl-click on links to choose whether to open them in the same tab, a new tab, or a new window; it can stop animated gifs; and so on. One could probably do something clever with css to replicate the effects of Plain Gmail, but I am allergic to webmail interfaces and therefore read my Gmail in PINE anyway....

#17 ::: Erik Nelson ::: (view all by) ::: June 11, 2010, 04:33 PM:

iPhone G4?

They've also recycled the names iBook and Classic as if they had forgotten their original uses.

#18 ::: Andrew Plotkin ::: (view all by) ::: June 11, 2010, 05:11 PM:

The official label is "iPhone 4". It follows "iPhone 3GS". There was no "iPhone IIgs", however.

#19 ::: Bruce Cohen (Speaker to Managers) ::: (view all by) ::: June 11, 2010, 06:09 PM:

And, sadly, they skipped iPhone 3.14

#20 ::: Avram ::: (view all by) ::: June 11, 2010, 07:14 PM:

Actually, it's just "iPhone 4". I don't know why I thought it was "G4". Maybe because I'm typing this on a PowerBook G4.

#21 ::: Paula Helm Murray ::: (view all by) ::: June 11, 2010, 10:58 PM:

I'm going to hold off, too. After having to reconfigure three computers in less than a year I do not want to deal with any bugs that happen because of being an early adopter of this program.

#22 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: June 12, 2010, 09:23 AM:

I'm liking Safari 5; it seems at least as fast as Google Chrome, and very stable. The one Chrome feature I miss is "reopen the tab you just now accidentally closed."

A useful extension Avram didn't mention: Reload Button for Safari.

#23 ::: J Greely ::: (view all by) ::: June 12, 2010, 11:53 AM:

"Reopen the tab you just accidentally closed" = Command-Z in Safari; reopening the last window you closed doesn't have a keyboard shortcut, but is available from the History menu in at least Safari 5.

-j

#24 ::: Bruce Baugh ::: (view all by) ::: June 12, 2010, 12:09 PM:

Anyone know of a way to make Safari open tabs next to the current one, the way Chrome does? That's nearly the only thing I'm now missing in Safari that I like in Chrome.

#25 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: June 12, 2010, 04:41 PM:

JGreely, thanks! I didn't know that, or if I did, I forgot a long time ago.

#26 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: June 12, 2010, 05:05 PM:

I'm still using 10.4.11, so this is moot--but does anyone know if Snapback will reappear? I miss it so much!

#27 ::: jim ::: (view all by) ::: June 12, 2010, 05:21 PM:

Hmmmm. I closed Safari. When I reopened it, all the extensions I had installed had disappeared. I take it Apple is still suspicious of extensions.

#28 ::: Andrew Plotkin ::: (view all by) ::: June 12, 2010, 09:08 PM:

Backing up slightly:

Q. Pheevr@16 said: "[iCab] can stop animated gifs..."

Can it? I've never gotten this feature to work -- not since the end of iCab 3.x, which used a different rendering engine. If you know some trick, I'd love to hear it...

(Yes, I saw the link to the Safari extension that does this.)

#29 ::: Avram ::: (view all by) ::: June 12, 2010, 09:51 PM:

Jim @27, that's very odd. The extensions I've installed have persisted across not just browser restart, but machine reboot.

#30 ::: Q. Pheevr ::: (view all by) ::: June 13, 2010, 03:04 PM:

Zarf@28 – Hmm, maybe it doesn't anymore. It's a feature I haven't really used recently, and I remember that it worked fine in version 3.whatever, but now unchecking the "Play Image Animations" box in the Images/IFrames preference panel doesn't seem to do anything. That's disappointing. So I'm sorry, but I seem to have overstated iCab's current abilities. (Version 3.0.5 is still available, though....)

#31 ::: Tazistan Jen ::: (view all by) ::: June 13, 2010, 03:40 PM:

@24: flower-click (command-click, apple-click, whatever you call it).

#32 ::: jim ::: (view all by) ::: June 13, 2010, 09:04 PM:

Avram @ 29: Just a one-off thing. Hasn't happened again. Computers!

#33 ::: janetl ::: (view all by) ::: June 14, 2010, 01:18 AM:

Looks like 5 still believes in just one home page. When I start a browser, I like it to open several pages. I'm sticking with Firefox.

#34 ::: Charlie Stross ::: (view all by) ::: June 14, 2010, 02:07 PM:

I've figured out what Apple's angle with Reader in Safari 5 is:

I use Thunderbird as a mail client, not Apple's Mail.app. Fire up Safari, enter Reader on an enticing page, and try to mail the article, and I get a fascinating pop-up: "Safari can’t create an email message because Thunderbird doesn’t support sending webpages from Safari. You can use the Mail application included with Mac OS X to send webpages."

Can you spell ecosystem lock-in? It's a subtle deterrent to using non-Apple core software; you're to use the whole package, Safari and Mail, or we'll make life slightly irritating for you.

(Possible explanation on Apple's part: see MobileMe.)

#35 ::: Andrew Plotkin ::: (view all by) ::: June 14, 2010, 07:43 PM:

Oh, bosh. Some exec at Apple may care about the corner of the market represented by "people who like to email Safari web pages with Thunderbird", but it's not Steve's platform strategy. That error message sounds more like the end-case of a "you fix your bug / no you fix *your* bug / you support our standard / no *you* support *our* standard" tussle between two dev teams.

Apple's angle with Reader in Safari 5 is straightforward: kill web ads. (Or, less hyperbolically, push them back some.) People hate web ads. Apple gets no share of web ads. Apple is happy to give its users some easy routes towards web-ad-blocking -- it makes the users happier, which means they buy more Macbooks. And if it happens to put some pressure on Google's tender crotch region, well, win-win.

This is also why the Safari extension documentation includes direct instructions on how to write an ad-blocker extension. With sample code.

#36 ::: Avram ::: (view all by) ::: June 14, 2010, 11:29 PM:

Bruce Baugh @24, I think Glims (which seems to still be working with Safari 5) has a feature along those lines.

#37 ::: Bruce Baugh ::: (view all by) ::: June 15, 2010, 09:45 AM:

Excellent - it does work in Safari 5, and the option to open tabs to the right of the current one is what I was looking for. Thanks!

#38 ::: Bruce Webb ::: (view all by) ::: June 16, 2010, 01:55 PM:

For us low-tech folk the coolest feature of Safari Reader is two click e-mailing of a web-article or post.

I can post to our blog, click on Reader and click again on the floating palette and then send the post out to a policy list-serv I belong to. Or do the same with any other article or post I run across. Yes of course there are lots of ways to do this, I routinely get articles e-mailed to me, but if anyone anywhere has got it reduced to two click functionality, complete with insertion of the URL it would be news to me. As as noted above this works with multi-page articles/posts

Supposedly it handles page photos and videos but strips out page specific em-bed codes which I guess means you may lose some placement and size control, but hell I can live with that, I want my computer to do stuff for me, and the easier and less thought required the better.

And I am sure someone has thought of this but a combination of this functionality with a free e-mail account could make for a fine article organizer. I have an unused Yahoo account, it seems could set up whatever folder structure I wanted internal to it, then send any amount of articles/posts to it for latter reading/archiving up to my storage limit. It seems to me that it turns every instance of a free e-mail account into the equivalent of a free online flash drive, limited only by the ability to manage mailboxes/folders on each account.

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