WebKit, two weeks later

20 10 2008

About two weeks ago, I decided that I would try using WebKit as my primary browser. I have to say, the experience was very positive, for the most part. For those unfamiliar with WebKit, it is the open source application framework that is being used as the foundation for several current browsers. Among them are Apple’s Safari (including the version being used by the iPhone and iPod touch), Google Chrome, and mobile browsers from Google and Nokia. Of course, that isn’t a definitive list of all the companies contributing to the WebKit project. More information is available on WebKit’s site.

Every night, a new build of WebKit becomes available in an RSS feed. They have versions available for Mac OS X and Windows, as well as the source code itself. I only downloaded nightly builds three times, with little noticeable difference between them. If you are on a Mac and using Safari, you know that Safari is really fast and loads pages very quickly. When running WebKit, it’s even faster. Plus Webkit scores 100 out of 100 on the Acid3 test, a measurement test for a browser’s JavaScript performance.

While running some sites, WebKit did crash where Safari never did. This is probably because Safari is a finished, stable product where WebKit is not. I do not recall the error messages I received. However, these crashes only occurred two or three times and did not really affect me too much.

In Mac OS X, you launch WebKit using a typical icon. The icon looks just like the Safari icon, but with a gold rim and a purple background, where Safari is silver and blue, respectively. I do not understand how WebKit works exactly. I do not believe it works as its own application, because it shows “Safari” in the menu bar. You really would not guess you are running something other than Safari, because the interface is the same and all of your bookmarks and history remain.

If you have not tried WebKit, I recommend it. It is a free download and easy to install. If you have used Safari, you should feel right at home in WebKit. All in all, I would give this great browser a shot.

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