Friday, October 17, 2003

iSeek 1.0

No, it’s not the new version of QuickTime; Ambrosia’s iSeek lets you search a variety of sites right from the menu bar. This makes it more convenient than typing the query into a browser, or a separate application like Huevos. However, I don’t think I will end up using iSeek, because of the way it handles the shortcuts for choosing sites. Each site can be assigned a keyboard shortcut, but these are apparently global, and many of the ones I assigned simply didn’t work. Maybe I’m doing something wrong. In any case, I found the shortcuts in Huevos to work more reliably, and the ones in OmniWeb to work more smoothly. (In OmniWeb, you can type things like “g ambrosia” to search Google for “ambrosia.”) I think what I really want is the OmniWeb functionality in Safari.

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I'm not sure what changed since Friday, but now iSeek's keyboard shortcuts are working fine for me.

How would you react if I said I wanted DropDMG's functionality in {any app that Apple ties to the OS}?

You'll probably disagree with me on this, but I think the browser is a special case that should absolutely be tied to the OS. And I want Apple's browser to be as good as possible.

I paid for both OmniWeb and iCab, but neither evolved into the browser that I wanted. I like Safari much better, and I don't expect the others to catch up. But I really want it to have this one feature. So, given all that, do you have a better suggestion?

You didn't answer the question :-)

Why don't you think those browsers didn't evolve into the browser you wanted? Was it a lack of talent?

Where will you draw the line on what's acceptable functionality to integrate into the browser?

OK, I think the OS should include only basic disk image functionality (as 10.2 currently does). And I do think Apple Mail should have a good spam filter, although I think Mail's overall functionality should have been kept basic.

The iCab team is really small; I think they didn't have enough time/people. Omni clearly has a different vision about how a browser should work. For instance, they organize the history differently, which I guess a lot of people like, but it drives me up the wall.

To answer your last question, I think I'd need to see some examples. What kind of functionality are you talking about? I don't think the browser needs to have auction tracking or Watson-type stuff in it...

Do you think perhaps the iCab team simply lacked access to inexpensive capital? Perhaps the cost of capital for software development is artificially high because of platform vendor tying practices?

I'm amazed by how little you see your fate tied to that of other indie developers! Everyone I've ever respected has said the lesson they've learned is that you can't participate in big growth without really sticking together.

I think it's clear that free browsers caused a lot of problems for the iCab team. For better or worse, people expect browsers to be free because Netscape was (mostly) and IE was. I think that, more than platform vendor tying, was the cause of stagnation in the browser market. If you go back to the Mac OS 8 and 9 days, Netscape and IE were good, free browsers. Customers wanted them. The browser had become an essential basic application. Apple would have been insane to *not* bundle them with the OS. Can you imagine the cries if Macs couldn't browse the Web out of the box? I don't blame Apple for not bundling iCab in those days, because it was in beta (like it still is...).

In the present, Apple needed the Mac to have a top-quality browser, and there wasn't one. So they built Safari. What would you have had them do differently?

As to your second paragraph, I like indie developers. I like their software. I think they're great for the platform, and I'm happy to be one of them. I don't know why you would think otherwise.

I guess our difference of opinion is that I think a browser must be built into the OS, just like file manipulation (Finder), basic text editing (NSTextView), image format support (QuickTime), and a host of other features. That doesn't mean Path Finder, BBEdit, or GraphicConverter should be built into the OS. But I think not having *basic* built-in support for these features would be bad for users, bad for Apple, and bad for developers (*especially* indies).

Sogudi is an input manager that adds this functionality to Safari.

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