Skinning Safari

Thursday, March 6th, 2003 @ 11:32 pm | Mac

In an otherwise slow news day (apparently, Apple has an MPEG-4 Video Gallery and it’s cool), Chris points out another Safari mockup for dealing with multiple web pages in a single window.

Looking at all the available pictures, I just don’t like what I see. First, the thumbnails are pretty much pointless. If you open a number of pages from the same web site, they will probably have similar layouts and thus it will be hard to differentiate between the pages just from the thumbnails. The thumbnail images strike me as a case of doing something because you can, not because it makes sense.

Second, the thumbnails resize as more are added, eventually disappearing when the thumbnails no longer fit on screen. As a result, you no longer have a consistently-sized target to aim at when you’re clicking. Also, you have the choice of leaving a large metal border around the thumbnails shrink or resizing the page pane and, more importantly, the browsing area.

Finally, when the thumbnails disappear, you’re left with a list of favicons and page titles hoverring over a metal background. There is no indications that these are buttons or links of any kind. Furthermore, it is inconsistent with the UI for bookmarks in Safari, not to mention the song and playlist displays in iTunes and the album disaply in iPhoto. The last thing we need is Apple introducing even more inconsistency into their applications.

Some time ago, there was another Safari tab-type mockup which put all the open pages in a table at the left of the of the browsing window. Sadly, I can’t find a URL for this right now. However, the UI is fairly consistent with Safari’s bookmark disaply and the aforementioned iApps. You have a consistently-sized target when you want to switch to a different page. There is less wasted space since you are the one setting the size of the table. Since Apple seems to be having some trouble coming up with a decent implementation of tabs, I would much rather see them try to innovate and come up with something different.

For more on Safari tabs and mockups, check out these pages:

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