OmniWeb 3.0/3.1

As the only native browser for NEXTSTEP, OPENSTEP and Rhapsody, OmniWeb had the potential to succumb to lack of competition.

Fortunately, the Omni Group put a ton of effort into OmniWeb, and it shows in the Rhapsody/OPENSTEP version (3.x).

When browsing isn't enough
This site is mainly created in Stone Design's Create. Which is another way of saying that I used other tools. The one I depend on the most next to Create is OmniWeb. This is not just for previewing the pages (which, of course, it does), but I also make changes or additions to the HTML coding using OmniWeb's source editor.

One of the nice features about OmniWeb's source editor is that it applies colors to elements in the code and it warns you of errors that it spots while you are writing (like orphaned tags). The colors are set in the preferences (as seen below).

It also lets you try out ideas without committing to them first. I can alter the code of a page (even pages off the web) and redisplay them with all the graphics and link preserved even to see how the changes effect the page. I have, at times, come across older pages which have bad graphics links where I know what the correct links should be. A quick find and replace in the source editor and then redisplay the page makes the page viewable again.

The following series of images is one such page.

OmniWeb watches bookmarks for you to see if they have been updated. You can set this feature to run in the background to check your bookmarks at specific intervals. You can also check out more info on your bookmarks using the bookmark inspector.

It is now becoming a standard feature on browsers these days, but OmniWeb had shortcuts way back in 1997/98.

I, personally, don't take full advantage of this feature (bookmarks work fine for me), but one area I do use this is for google searches. I set up a shortcut such that any time I type my search words in OmniWeb's address field I get back a google search result page for those words.

Appearance is very important
How pages look in a browser has a lot to do with how people receive the contents of the pages. In Mac OS X, almost every browser displays it's text in an antialiased form. Fortunately, OmniWeb for Rhapsody can do the same thing. One of the first things I usually do in OmniWeb when I first install it on Rhapsody systems is to change the default font to Helvetica and turn on antialiasing. It makes a nice difference in how things look on my system.

I love Services. I just do! They are a great idea which I wish more developers would take advantage of in Mac OS X. Fortunately, many did in Rhapsody. And the Omni Group is one of them.

One of the first versions of OmniDictionary was a service which would take you to the dictionary page in OmniWeb of the word you had selected. For Rhapsody for Intel I use DigitalWEBster which has both a dictionary and thesaurus lookup feature. Another Service is OmniWeb's "open URL" which lets you highlight a URL in a document and open that address in OmniWeb.

But combining the google shortcut I made for OmniWeb with it's "open URL" feature, I have a search google Service in Rhapsody. I highlight a word or words, go to the "open URL" Service from OmniWeb and the page that is displayed is the search results on the selected text in the other program.

Graceful in it's old age
OmniWeb 3.x is not a new browser. It is of the IE/Netscape 4.x vintage, which means it doesn't like CSS or XML/XHTML. Further, it is outside the normal computing world, so things like Flash, Quicktime, HTTPS and even Java, are right at the edge of it's reach. The Omni Group had been working on fixing these issues (with the idea that Rhapsody was going to be heading for a general public release), but after starting they quickly turn their attention to Mac OS X.

I, for one, even as a Rhapsody user am happy they did. OmniWeb 4.x has been my default browser in Mac OS X for most of the time I have used it (with the exception being the short period when Safari first came out). OmniWeb 4.5 is my everyday browser. I use it's features like the source editor almost everyday. And I'm looking forward to the release of OmniWeb 5.0 in the near future.

But, even as I move on with newer versions of OmniWeb in Mac OS X, I still spend a great deal of time surfing the web using OmniWeb 3.x in Rhapsody.