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07Jun
iCab 4.1.1: one more browser?

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Why do we need one more browser, especially, the one for Mac OS X. and based on WebKit’s core, if there are already a lot of them? Well, we have the WebKit itself (a leader in speed and quality of rendering, 99 points in Acid3), and Safari 3.1 for Mac OS, as well as Japanese clone Shiira. Even those who want a pay browser, there is OmniWeb:

iCab is a browser created by Alexander Klaus, a German programmer. This browser has been using its own core of HTML rendering and been remade basing on WebKit’s core:

What new features in comparison with other programs based on WebKit core can this browser offer?

In truth even after brief and superficial studies iCab turned out to have a lot of advantages as compared to other WebKit based browsers.

First of all, all modern standard functions are present: speed and the quality of rendering (approximately at the level of Safari 3.1.10), tabs, multilingual support (including Russian), unobtrusive Cocoa-design and built-in download manager, etc.

It also has other real and surprising utilities.


For example, if a number of tabs are opened then a button on the right, letting show the miniatures of all the opened tabs will appear. When you read the source code the code is highlighted in different colors (a function similar to full-value HTML-editor.) It’s a small thing, but pleasant. There is also a built-in debugger, Java Script, as well as nice function of finding errors on pages. There’s a console and inspector DOM. All these functions are simple and allow the developer to correct his projects without any help of outside services and plug-ins. Download manager and Filter manager turned out rather convenient. The function of managing bookmarks is also very good. The Forms Manager turns the boring filling in the forms into simple and fast operation. You should study all of the features of this browser deeper. By the way, the panel of bookmarks contains Favicons that are not present in the Safari family.

According to subjective appraisals iCab starts a little bit faster than WebKit. That can be related with the fact that iCab doesn’t save the previous series, but starts from the bank page. I guess that the function of saving the previous session will be realized in a nearest future.

The website can be viewed in usual mode or in Kiosk-mode full screen. You can also download the whole website and then view it in off-line mode. And then you can archive all the website into zip-format by single click.

You can turn on and off almost anything in iCab. By variety of settings iCab excelled WebKit and Opera. Thus those who like adjusting browsers to their taste will have what to do.

As for appearance, then, in my opinion, it’s not so perfect. It seems to me that the interface buttons are made a little bit unskillfully and skins support is not available. However, this is not so important; because you get quickly accustomed to this browser’s interface (it’s much similar to GUI in Safari). There is also a possibility to change something (for, example, to make icons smaller, turn off the text or color the icons into yellow)

It’s nice that after starting the browser all the cookies from the WebKit have been automatically read, the Russian language was installed as a basic language, and Yandex became the search system by default. (Although it can be changed for Rambler, Google, Yahoo, etc.)

Among the bugs I would emphasize errors happening from time to time with cookies. Thus you can sometimes find out that, for example, you have made hidden log out from Habra, and you will have to reenter it. Autocomplete also works inadequately.

In general, iCab has a lot of merits and fewer drawbacks in comparison with WebKit. The only substantial drawback of WebKit as opposed to rivals is that it’s not free. For full-blown version you will have to pay 25 dollars. You can also work in a free of charge version of iCab for unlimited time, if you ready to see a window, popping up from time to time and saying that you have to pay for the work of German programmer. Personally I am not ready. I got used that the browser is for free and in every way useful. So I prefer to work in usual WebKit, although I would miss some useful features of iCab.

1 user commented in " iCab 4.1.1: one more browser? "

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chris smolyk said,
in December 25th, 2009 at 5:06 am

I’ve been using iCab since OS 7 and consider the “most Mac feel” of them all. Neat that it is ported from
the old Atari Cab, which is the very first graphic browser on the web.

chriss

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