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Daniel Eran

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Please remain calm!
However, looking at how I use currently use Safari and the Finder, I would like them to merge. Before you grab your torch and pitchfork, let me present why! And before I present why, let me shoot down the "why not!" arguments.

Is there really any good reason to keep the Finder and Safari separate? Safari opens nearly instantaneously and performs brilliantly fast, so impaired performance is not an issue. Both have a window interface that is nearly identical already, so there is no threat that Apple would have to introduce anything borrowed from Explorer. Simply making Safari and the Panther Finder more similar in appearance and behavior has made the two perfect twins. Merging them entirely is the next logical step.

A new impairment of competition is not an issue, since Apple already bundles Safari with OS X as the default browser, and Apple exposes Safari's web rendering engine as a system wide service. Competitive products can take advantage of Safari's core web services and develop value added improvements, rather than attempt to compete with it feature for feature and reinvent existing code. Many years of Mozilla have made it clear that building a full featured browser engine is a massive undertaking.

With embrace and extends like these, who needs interoperability?
Explorer is similarly embedded into Windows, but not in the same way; there are no competitors' web browsers using the IE engine; the only use of IE browser technology by other applications is an inappropriate munging of desktop applications into HTML presented garbage. Witness Microsoft's own Windows Update tool. How embarrassing! Apple got it right by creating an integrated native application to handle online updates rather than an HTML pseudo-web application.

Arguing the necessity of disconnecting the browser from the operating system makes about as much sense as arguing that Apple should ship the Quartz graphic layer separately, so other developers could compete in building a graphics server. Or that Apple should divorce the Finder from OS X to allow competition. No one demands competition in those spaces; yet interestingly, in both cases the default, highly integrated software can be replaced with alternatives: X Window 11 and Path Finder are two examples.

Further, Apple already enables any web browser to be set up as the default application for web browsing, ftp or other Internet services. Nothing stops or hinders users from installing their own web browser of choice. Where Apple uses web technology, they do so cross platform; users are not forced to use Safari. In contrast, Windows' HTML based tools (such as Microsoft’s Windows Update) only work in IE, because they rely on Active X controls and other proprietary 'integrations' with the operating system .

The problem with Microsoft’s positioning of Internet Explorer really has nothing to do with software bundling and everything to do with killing open standards and replacing them with tainted proprietary protocols that only work correctly with Microsoft’s other software. As an independent player, Apple has neither the interest nor the capacity to do either.

All for one and one for all
So, having clearly differentiated Apple's direction and motivations, let's look at the clear benefits to merging the two browsers. First, both share features the other needs: the Finder has flexible view options, while Safari has bookmarking and tabs that would be awesome in the Finder. Second, there is already too much overlap. Although coming from different places, both do essentially the same thing for similar uses. In fact, the overlap is so strong that often, having to deal with both as separate applications is just an annoyance.

If you are having trouble with the concept, think of the combining of the Finder with Safari to be more akin to OpenDoc component software than the horrible Microsoft Explorers. But enough talk. Check out my mockups of what a Safari/Finder window might look like, along with my description of how I see the two working together.

Part III > Old Dog, New Tricks


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