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Bill Brown

A complicated man.

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I’ve had more opportunity to use Safari since downloading it earlier. I really, really like it. The interface simplification will yield substantial time savings for me, the heavy surfer. Unfortunately, Safari lacks two further simplifiers that OmniWeb has: shortcuts and deep hierarchy.

Shortcuts are like Mozilla’s keywords, if you’re familiar with those. For those of you unfamiliar, they allow you to preset a keyword like “vt” that will automatically expand out to “” and go to that site. You can also define a single parameter so that “vt launchbar” would pass “launchbar” into VersionTracker’s search field and perform the request. You would not believe how useful this is until it’s gone.

Deep hierarchy is cognitively useful. For example, I’ve got over 1,800 bookmarks in OmniWeb. Keeping that many bookmarks in your mind is totally impossible. That’s why you create folders to hold them and then folders inside those folders. Eventually, you’ve got a huge Yahoo-style directory that can largely be retained in context. I’ve got a top-level in OmniWeb of maybe 15 folders. Each of those has several subfolders and many of those have further subfolders.

Safari, unfortunately, has neither of these features. It does have hooks into your history, your Address Book, and your bookmarks that may make it trivial to get to a site you’ve been to before but you can’t create predefined relationships like the VersionTracker search. Also, it sports iTunes-style bookmark folders. This makes its interface similar to an existing product (good!), easy to add bookmarks to (good!), and very very shallow (bad!). So in order to replicate my present OmniWeb organization, I’d have to have upwards of 150 folders?all on the same cognitive level thereby destroying the hierarchy. Epistemologically, then, you could say that Safari breaks the hierarchy of knowledge and power of abstraction. Then again, it’s just a beta and I’ve made feature requests for these two. [UPDATE: David Hyatt, one of the Safari developers, has a blog where he’s answering questions about Safari.]