The Road Ahead

CaminoAs a delayed response to some boosterism over at Jon Hicks’ weblog, I was inspired to download and install the Camino Web browser today. It’s slow and somewhat awkward and it lacks the polish of Apple’s own Safari, to say nothing of the outstanding feature set of the Omni Group’s superb but flawed OmniWeb. Still, the browser remains in development with regular builds of its code, working up to its official 1.0 release, and it would be unfair to characterize it as anything less than a terrific piece of work.

Which is to say that the extent to which Camino, at version 0.9a1, bears imperfections is far less dramatic than can be reasonably expected for a project of its nature: having decided that the uphill battle of the Mozilla Gecko browser project wasn’t a dire enough challenge, these enterprising souls have chosen to climb up an even bigger hill — creating an open source Web browser competing for market share among Macintosh users only. And this when Safari ships with every new Macintosh and WebKit, its engine so to speak, has itself been released under an open source license.

I salute their sense of optimism, but I also have to commend their execution; Camino is slick and exquisitely Macintosh-like. In comparison to Firefox, its open source sibling and not too bad a Macintosh citizen itself, Camino is an exemplary bit of Aqua-friendly user interface design from top to bottom. But it’s truly noteworthy for the gorgeous iconography of Jasper Hauser which is lucid and tasteful in a way that very, very few software projects manage to pull off, whether open source or commercial. What’s driving this project, apparently, is pure passion, and it shows.

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  1. You’re kidding right? Camino runs much much faster than Safari on my iBook. I love the clean layout and I would recommend it over Firefox anytime of the day. I have yet to try Tiger and the new version of Safari, but I’m sticking with Camino for now.

  2. I’ve been a Camino user since the ol’ days, version 5-6, back when it was Chimera. The app has really progressed since then, when it was “the” web browser compared to stalwarts like IE 5 and Netscape 7, both of which were dogs on Mac OS X.

    Chimera flew in and smoked them both on rendering speed and web standards support. That is until Safari came along :(

    About a year ago, there was a serious downtime for work being done on the recently re-named Camino, and I thought it was on the way out. It seemed like Mike Pinkerton & Co. couldn’t get much support from the community for development. Now the momentum has shifted again and Camino is back on track. Yeah! little guy.

    The latest version, 0.9a1, has its bugs, but it really is an outstanding browser when you consider the tiny but dedicated folks who work on it for free. I am a proud Camino user, and you’ve hit the nail on the head – the browser is about passion and it shows in the end result.

  3. I have used Camino since it was called Chimera and as another poster says it was the best at the time. Safari has always seemed very slow to me especially usign a scroll wheel up and down…dog slow. I then tried Firefox as it seemed a little more feature packed and stable than Camino was when it’s dev slowed for a time.

    I still use Firefox but have recently switched to the new builds of Safari after being told they were fast at vertical scrolling…and they are. I have been using one of the new “SafarionAcid” builds for a few weeks now and it is blindingly fast for me on Tiger although a little buggy on some sites.

    Will still keep Firefox to check my dev work though :)

  4. I used Camino to see what it was like as I had heard it was fast and it was. It was faster than Safari and Firefox when I first downloaded it. Now Safari trumps it. It still is an excellent browser and their commitment does show, I might have to update my version.

    I tried to get as many popular browsers so I could check dev work and Camino was very popular at the time.

  5. (Not that I have prejudice or anything, but…) Camino is by far the best browser for Mac OS X. There’s definitely problems, but, thankfully, 90% of them are known. Development is certainly picking up and going places.

    Khoi, I’m not sure what slowdowns you were having. Currently, Camino has issues with plugins (WMP, Real, Flash, etc.), with it’s text boxes slowing down on long paragraphs, and with animated GIFs. All of these are known issues and should not be in 0.9 Final.

    I think the best way to compare this version to Firefox is really to compare it to Deer Park Alpha 1. They’re built off almost the same branch and have several of the same problems.

    Whatever the case, give Camino another shot when it’s out of alpha. I think you’ll be pleasantly suprised.

  6. I’m on 10.3.9 so I don’t have access to Safari 2 or its derivatives, but Camino is without a doubt the fastest browser on my Mac. And not just by a little bit.

    And hardly awkward or unpolished, either; in fact, you seem to contradict this yourself in the final paragraph. Your criticisms would be more meaningful if you supported them up with some examples; what makes Camino awkward or unpolished?

    That said, your optimisim in the rest of the review is appreciated, and I hope you take another look once Camino 0.9 is out of *alpha* ;)

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