16 Fabulous Web Browser Options

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Sometimes it is easy to forget that there are a multitude of web browsers out there, but there are tons of them. If you can think of something you want a browser to do, there’s a solution for you. Even when browsers are built on the same engines, such as WebKit, it doesn’t always mean that the browsers are going to display sites in the exact same way, so it never hurts to have more than one browser built on a certain engine.

For web designers, it is almost a requirement that you have more than one browser to test out your designs. Having all sixteen of these would probably be overkill, but having five or six at the ready would not be a bad idea.

Mac Web Browsers

Camino: “Mozilla Power, Mac Style” is the tag line for this popular Mac-only web browser. Based on the Gecko engine, Camino is an open source browser project that tries to match its power to the Mac experience. Due to its open source nature, it also supports a number of add-ons that extend the usability of the program.

iCab: iCab is based on WebKit and is available for free as “nag ware” that will remind you to register and upgrade to pro. The pro version is available for $20/15 EUR. There is also a version for the iPhone and iPod Touch.

OmniWeb: Developed by the well-known Omni Group, OmniWeb uses WebKit and includes some nice features such as workspaces, link viewing, ad blocking and a lot more. OmniWeb used to cost $14.95, but was offered for free beginning in Feb. 2009.

Shiira: Shiira is an open source browser based out of Japan that is built on WebKit and aims “to create a browser that is better and more useful than Safari.”  At the time writing this there hasn’t been a new stable version released since 2007, so we’ll leave it up to you to decide if that mission was accomplished.

Multi-Platform Web Browsers

Firefox: Mozilla Firefox is probably one of the best known of the third-party browsers, and by this time just about everyone has one copy stashed away somewhere on their computer. Firefox is a Gecko-based browser with extensions, password management and a whole lot more.

Flock: Flock is considered an off shoot of Firefox that is built on Gecko and will run on Windows, Mac OS X, Linux and BSD. The major difference with Flock is that it is heavily focused on incorporating a social networking experience into the browser environment.

Google Chrome: Built on WebKit, Google Chrome has built a pretty loyal following in the relatively short time it has been out.  While it is not officially out yet for Mac OS X or Linux, both versions are supposed to be coming.  A lot of things are planned for the future versions of this particular application, but for now it is just an excellent browser without many bells or whistles.

Konqueror: Konqueror is a part of the K Desktop Environment, but is also available for Unix systems, Mac OS X and is finally coming out for Windows systems. Besides being a browser, it can also be used for file management.

Opera: Opera uses the Presto engine, and smaller versions of the browser are utilized in devices such as the Wii and Nintendo DS. It offers features such as data synchronization, in-line spell checking, mouse gestures and more.

Safari: While Safari is tightly associated with Macs as it is made by Apple and comes installed on every Mac, there is a Windows version that has gained some popularity. Built on WebKit, Safari goes with a minimalistic design that emphasizes the pages you are looking at, it also relies on numerous visual tricks to make mundane tasks like looking at your browsing history a bit more interesting.

SeaMonkey: SeaMonkey is another browser in the Mozilla family, but is more of an application suite that features a browser, email and news reader.

Windows Web Browsers

Avant: Avant claims to be the fastest web browser, is available in 41 languages and has been downloaded over 22 million times. It uses the Trident layout engine to power itself, which makes it compatible with Internet Explorer toolbars and plugins. It also offers built-in features such as online profile storage that will allow you to log-in to your account from wherever you are, mouse gestures, auto-fill forms and a lot more.

Internet Explorer: As much as designers bemoan the fact that Internet Explorer 6 haunts their nightmares, we’re talking about Internet Explorer 8 in this particular case. IE8 is more up-to-date on Web standards, handles AJAX and is a vast improvement over all of the previous versions of this mainstay of the browsing world.

K-Meleon: Based on the Mozilla Gecko engine, K-Meleon is built around the concept of being lightweight and integrating tightly with the visual look of your Windows settings.

Maxthon: Maxthon is a China-based browser, but has gained a cult following in other parts of the world. Currently the browser runs on the Trident engine, but version 3, which is currently under testing, will run both Trident and WebKit. It includes features such as being skinable, undo for closed tabs, numerous extensions and a host of others.

Sleipnir: Sleipnir is a browser that is gaining in popularity in Japan, and has a heavy focus on customization that allows the user to create a browser that fits their specific needs. It is based around the Trident engine and features plugins, tabs, customizable skins and a lot more.

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  • http://www.baymard.com jamieappleseed

    Chrome seems to be a killer browser. It has the speed of Safari and the search (url, history, etc.) of Firefox.

  • mrtonyg

    Even though I use on a daily basis, the one thing that really annoys me is that Firefox is a resource hog, in fact it is the browser that leads the way in memory usage.

  • http://www.pageaffairs.com/ ralph.m

    All credit to the makers of browsers other than Firefox, Safari and IE. It must be a hard market to break into. I’ve tried some of these, but quickly get put off. For example, with Chrome I don’t seem to be able to open PDFs. Fail. When I had Camino installed, Safari RSS feeds opened in Camino. Not sure what was going on there, but it led to a quick uninstall.

  • jphilapy

    16 Fabulous Web Browser Options just translates to me, 16 more variables that us web developers & designers have to deal with.

    Jeff

  • http://www.starsites.co.za Jacotheron

    I see that I have 7 of these browsers (for Windows). I Think that covers almost every engine and so far it works for testing my sites. Great article.

  • randywehrs

    Jeff – my thoughts exactly. I understand that some companies want to have the next-best thing in browsers, but it’s really beating a dead horse now, imho. The browser can only do so much, and the big 3-4 already do it. Plus, they’re free, and they’re tried-and-true. Well-researched article, but just about the only thing that would get me to switch from using Firefox and Chrome would be AI.

  • rye

    A great article which highlights the reason why Web Standards are so important these days. The flavour of the browser or the platform used to browse the site is no longer (so) important.

  • http://www.vkw91.co.uk vkw91

    I can understand what Jeff is saying, but like with everything, is it fair for someone like Microsoft to have a monopoly over something. I mean would you like it if one big firm created all the websites in the world, so that they would all work in the same way and everyone would know fully how to use it?

    Further more, different development teams have different concepts and ideas of the best way to do something, and its always nice to have a change.

  • http://www.patricksamphire.com/ PatrickSamphire

    I struggle to see any reason why I would try any of these other browsers. I use Firefox and Safari, and nothing at all convinces me to try any others for my personal browsing.

    I don’t envy people trying to develop a new browser, because to eat into the big 3/4, they’ll need to do something special that the others aren’t and which people are demanding, and outside niche audiences, I’m not seeing what that will be.

  • Paul Annesley

    I’ve been running a Chromium nightly build on Mac OS X for a while now.
    It’s still rough around the edges, but it’s 90% there and feels so fast that its worth it.
    Grab the latest nightly build and see for yourself.

  • cakewalker

    A think I’m right in understanding that IE6 stagnated for so long precisely because MS thought there was no longer any serious competition and that they had produced the ‘ultimate browser’. Competition is what’s required to ensure no-one sinks into that complacency again and to push browser development forward – even if the one feature that for example Opera offers (and I’m sure there’s more than one) that distinguishes it from the other browsers isn’t enough to tempt you to make the switch, the browser shouldn’t be dismissed as being a waste of time as that feature is likely to be of use to someone.

    I don’t think more browsers is going to overly complicate web developers’ lives. So long as the market leading browsers adhere to web standards (which seems to be the case) that gives an incentive for the developers of other browsers to also adhere as they’ll know the users they are trying to attract from the market leaders will expect a basic standard of rendering.

  • Anonymous

    As soon as Chrome opens up with decent support for plug-ins, I’ve abandoning firefox. Google Chrome is just such a masterpiece, at least from a usability perspective. Technically though, it’s even more impressive. The fact that it loads in a fraction of a second even on a power-challenged netbook is testimate to the technical marvel that it is.

    Back to firefox, I really am starting to tire of firefox, especially now that I’ve seen the light with Google Chrome. AS powerful as Firefox is, it just comes across as being very clunky and not very graceful in its approach. The web browser for most people, is the most important software on their computer and is used a majority of the time, and for that reason, I think its important the web browser experience be as enjoyable as possible.

  • yuki@Lunascape

    Hi, great article. We’d like you to consider us as another candidate. Lunascape (http://www.lunascape.tv) is a “triple engine” browser based on Windows, originally from Japan. Users can switch engines between Trident(IE), Gecko(Firefox), and Webkit (Chrome & Safari) with a click for each tab at anytime without a need to open another browser. We are growing user base especially within web developers and creators. It has useful bookmarklets like design tools and highly customizable. Currently available in 11 languages. We hope you give it a try.

    Yuki

  • eXcaliburN

    @Yuki – Lunascape sounds like a great idea for development, i will definantly trial that next time im developing anything.

    Cheers

  • eXcaliburN

    Lunascape has an impressive installation feature to support a portable version.

    is integration with ‘PortableApps’ planned? might be good for a bit of free advertising with a popular application suite…

  • http://www.brothercake.com/ brothercake

    @cakewalker – the reason for IE6’s stagnation is actually nothing to do with the web, and everything to do with IE’s use as a rendering surface for Windows applications. From a Windows application developer’s perspective, a stable (ie. unchanging) IE is exactly what you want, and if it’s the only rendering environment you have to consider, and web standards aren’t an issue, then its shortcomings in that area are irrelevant, ably matched as they are by proprietary solutions.