Daniel Eran Dilger
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Apple backtracks on Safari 4.0 tabs on top, ZFS

Prince McLean, AppleInsider

Amid all of the new features highlighted Monday in Snow Leopard, iPhone 3.0 and Safari 4.0 were a few unpublicized retractions: Safari 4.0 has lost its “tabs on top” and returned to the old conventional tabs of the previous 3.0 version, while all mention of full ZFS support in Snow Leopard Server has been scrubbed.

Apple backtracks on Safari 4.0 tabs on top, ZFS
When Safari 4.0 was released for free download yesterday, its provocative use of upward facing tabs was dropped along with its beta label. For users who just got used to having their window tabs tucked into the dead space in the menu bar, the change back might seem disappointing. After all, Apple promoted the idea of ‘tabs on top’ as a clever way to minimize the impact of user interface elements on the browsing experience, a key design goal of Safari since its first release.

Why have tabs dropped back down to consume an extra strip of interface real estate? Perhaps the company though it was too confusing to new users, or that it simply wasn’t consistent or compatible with its own interface guidelines or those of Microsoft Windows, which the company is now trying to look native on with Safari rather than imposing its uniquely metallic Mac appearance.

Whatever the reason, the retraction of the bold design step by the typically safe, if not conservative, company is slightly disappointing and makes the new browser seem a big dowdy. Users might forgive this due to Safari’s enhanced rendering speed. The new-old tabs also still work the same, featuring the intuitive drag to reorder capability and the option to drag a tab outside the current browser to spawn a new window, or to drag a tab into an existing window to make it a component tab. Apple claims 150 other features for Safari in its place.

Upward facing tabs under Safari 4 beta (left) compared to those implemented in the release (right).

The conspicuously missing ZFS

The announcement of new support for Sun’s open source ZFS in Leopard drew a frenzy of attention that had pundits insisting that Mac OS X would quickly make the new file system its default in place of HFS+, a prediction that has not materialized.

Of course, while ZFS is positively dripping with easy to understand feature buzzwords, there’s no desperate, impending need to replace HFS+ nor any likelihood that ZFS would really offer consumers, who make up the vast majority Apple’s target market, any tangible benefits. For starters, the features of ZFS only really get started when you’re using multiple disks, and most of Apple’s users are now buying notebook systems, none of which ship with multiple drives.

Still, ZFS seemed to hold a lot of promise to Snow Leopard Server users, who might want to take advantage of the new file system’s support for features such as flexible volume management, continuous data integrity checking and automatic repair.

ZFS was formerly listed prominently among the scant new details offered on Apple’s next version of Mac OS X Server, but now the company’s entire site seems to be purged of any mention. Sources have noted that the feature was pulled from the user interface of Disk Utility in recent developer builds.

While Apple probably isn’t abandoning the technology, it has certainly slipped from the list of critical to deliver features for Snow Leopard. The only mention of ZFS in the search results of Apple’s website is its inclusion as an open source project in Darwin. Well, there’s always Mac OS X 10.7.

Sometimes, Apple drops an advertised feature when it is discovered that it simply isn’t ready for mainstream users yet, as was the case with Time Machine backups to AirPort. In other cases, the company has dropped a planned feature to rethink how to implement it, as it did with Push Notifications for iPhone 2.0 last fall. In both of those cases, the technology was eventually reinstated for release. In other cases however, a dropped feature might never come back. Apple never revisited the idea of customized user interface themes, for example.

  • shawnpetriw

    Count me as one that was disappointed with the Safari tabs.

    Many people used a terminal command to but the beta tabs back to the bottom. Is there a similar command to put the tabs on top?

  • http://www.ccsgraphic.com CCS

    Javascript debugger? I have SO got to get this.

  • http://www.veo-design.com VeoSotano

    I am one of those who changed the tabs to the bottom in the beta, so I welcome that they went for it again. My main complaint was that since I was using a pen tablet, and each time I clicked on a tab, the window got moved a bit, because you don’t leave the tip of the pen absolutely still when clicking, unlike with the mouse, and the app thinks you are dragging.

    The other complaint I have (but I don’t know if they changed it since the beta), is that when a new window opens in front, and you want to drag the tab to the window on the back, you have to move the front window out of the way first, to see the tab bar of the window in the back. Other programs, like CSSEdit, do this very nice, when you drag a tab out of a window that only had one tab, then, when dragging, the window dissapears, allowing you to drag the tab inside another window…. or it reappears if you drop it somewhere else…

    Why isn’t there an option to make all new windows open in tabs, by the way?

  • http://www.veo-design.com VeoSotano

    I just installed Safari 4, and what I was complaining about has been corrected… hoorray! CSSEdit’s effects when going from window to tab are way cooler though…

  • http://www.jphotog.com leicaman

    Disappointed that ZFS is at least going to take longer to arrive. Could Oracle buying Sun have anything to do with it?

  • http://www.transchristians.org Ephilei

    @Leicaman Probably not as ZFS is open source. Unless Apple decided it just wants to spite Oracle for some reason.

    “Sometimes, Apple drops an advertised feature when it is discovered that it simply isn’t ready for mainstream users yet, as was the case with Time Machine backups to AirPort.”

    The most ridiculous, Apple shill you’ve ever written.