Safari 3.1 Review

Safari has always offered excellent support for modern web standards. Continuing that trend, the just-released Safari 3.1 is the first browser to work with such up-and-coming technologies as CSS Animations and the

Safari’s interface is mostly unchanged, and for sites that haven’t yet implemented new technologies, browsing behaviour is virtually identical to the previous version. Safari’s strengths remain the same, as do its limitations (such as a lack of official support for third-party plug-ins). But the new features provide a glimpse into the web of the future.

One subtle but important change to the interface is a checkbox in the Advanced pane of the Preferences window: Show Develop Menu in Menu Bar. This optional menu, designed primarily to aid web developers, contains several commands that previously required a command-line hack to activate a hidden Debug menu.

But the real news is the support for new standards, which will give web designers much more flexibility and control. First up is Web Fonts, an extension to CSS (cascading style sheets) whereby an entire TrueType font downloads automatically when a page loads. This eliminates the tedious design step of converting unusual fonts to graphics before placing them on a web page, and assures that all viewers will see pages the same way, whether or not they have the fonts installed on their systems.

The

Using CSS Animations, a web page can animate block elements (such as causing a text box to spin) without requiring the creation and downloading of any graphics. Once again, Safari 3.1 handles such animations brilliantly.

Safari 3.1 also offers, for the first time, client-side storage in the form of an SQLite database.

OUR VERDICT

In our tests, Safari’s new features functioned exactly as they should, and as web designers begin to add support for these elements, Safari will become progressively more useful and functional for typical users.

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