Namespace completion and DOM support in Apple's Safari

Last night I finally got around to watching Steve Jobs' Macworld Expo keynote. During the show, I installed and began using the Safari browser. (Wish they'd avoided overloading the name of another product that's near and dear to my heart, but so it goes.) I hadn't thought the speed would matter much, because Mozilla does very nicely on the 800MHz TiBook -- but Safari is indeed wicked fast, and so I find myself gravitating to it. My gripes are different from the ones I've mainly heard, though. I'm not yet a confirmed tabs addict, so I can easily live without them. And I'm not yet running into any annoying rendering problems. Two things bug me, though. One's a user issue: namespace completion on the URL-line is very weak. The other's more an IT issue. The DOM feature that I was recently pleased to find working in MSIE and Mozilla is not working in Safari.

I'll admit that namespace completion may not be an issue for very many users. But I think that's a shame. When I wrote about this a while back, I collected examples of the different flavors of completion I use:

application namespace
Epsilon (emacs) file/directory
Epsilon (emacs) commands
Outlook contacts
QuickBooks account names
MSIE urls
MSIE per-site forms input
ActiveWords active words

Sadly, each of these per-app completion mechanisms works in a different way, and each is available only within the context of the app...

Here's my nirvana. Every app that manages one or more namespaces -- and it's hard to think of an app that doesn't -- would offer namespace completion as a service. Let's make it a web service, while we're at it, so it's available locally or remotely in the same way.

Can't we please support this at the OS level, across operating systems? I know that completion isn't only a geek thing, because I've seen QuickBooks users utterly depend on it. We haven't managed to generalize the idea, though, so people don't expect it to work everywhere and polymorphically. They should. This Safari experience reminds me that the reason I don't depend as heavily on bookmarks and tabs as I might is that namespace completion mines the browser history very effectively for me.

As far as DOM compliance is concerned, again I recognize this isn't yet something most people depend on. As MSIE and Mozilla finally converge on an interoperable core, though, it was beginning to look as if enterprise IT -- which loves zero-footprint browser-based solutions -- could really start to count on it. Since I do think Apple's new platform can play in the enterprise, I hope Safari will quickly and convincingly resolve any outstanding DOM issues.

Former URL: