The scrappy, unwavering spirit of the Camino team pays off in a big way today with the version 1.0 release of that Web browser. In the wish list of browser features I wrote last December, I had unfairly disregarded Camino, even though I had it installed on my own system at the time. This is probably owing to past experiences with earlier versions that were a bit bumpy, but this latest release is smooth, polished and very solid. It’s a true Macintosh product, having painstakingly brought the Mozilla group’s refined Gecko rendering engine into Apple’s Cocoa framework.
The result is a browser that’s rivaled perhaps only by Safari in how native it feels to the Mac OS X computing experience. I’ve been using it for several days, and it feels fast and reliable — but what I like most of all is its integration with Mac OS X’s Keychain password utility, which is invaluable for convenience and peace of mind. Unfortunately, Camino is missing a few features that I’m becoming increasingly used to having at my disposal: session saving and the ability to force all new windows into tabs.
That doesn’t stop it from being an amazing piece of work though. It may be true that Camino’s open source cousin, Firefox is a wonder of coordinated, selfless efforts joining together to produce a surprisingly usable and elegant end product. But Camino is an example of similarly dedicated and truly passionate engineers and designers putting that same brand of selflessness to work creating something truly beautiful. It’s the closest an open source project has come to producing art that I’ve seen yet.