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Dave Jacoby
Dave Jacoby

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What Do Front-End Devs Think About Safari?

I'm mostly a back-end guy, and have by and large worked with Firefox and Chrome being the browsers of choice, and have only had two issues with Safari (see below). As of today, I may have a third, but I may just have a configuration issue. So, please, what do you think about Safari? Is it the new IE 6? Is it considered decent? What do you think?

  • Look at this URI: http:/~foo/ It's wrong. You stick it in the browser and it doesn't work, but put it in a page and it will just assume the current server. It's just one step away from /~foo/, right? At least that's the logic my coworker had, but it broke the page for some users. When I had this issue in 2012, it worked in Firefox and Chrome and Opera and IE, but, I figured out by the logs, not Safari. The issue is that every other browser supported it — I don't know if they still do — and Safari didn't.

  • HTML5 added an Audio API. To learn it, I created a page where, when you go there, you got an old-school pre-VOIP dial tone, which is actually two tones. But the Secret Masters of HTML decided that pages making noise without us saying "you can make noise" is a bad thing, and so I rewrote it so that, and I asked my wife to check on the iPhone and it wouldn't play. I never fully figured out the issue between iOS Safari and my HTML5 stuff, but I installed a WebKit-based browser on my Linux box to try to work it out, and I don't believe I ever fully did.

So, that's my bits. What do you think about Safari? Do you have any Safari stories?

Top comments (19)

ben profile image
Ben Halpern

In my opinion Safari was almost great, and then Apple just stopped trying. I'm sure the folks working on Safari are putting in a lot of work with good intentions, but their efforts seem starved.

Safari is a pleasant browser which is clean, light, performant software. I think it wins on less bloat vs Chrome, but it seems really late to deliver on APIs everybody else is in agreement on and it ships inconsistent implementations of standards with no obvious public statement about the bug.

(Apple also breaks stuff in WKWebview without notice 😭)

I like Safari as an end-user if I can get out of the mindset of knowing how sloppy it is in that ecosystem due to the focus on performance and such, but I have mostly worse things to say.

This incredibly frustrating afternoon still lingers in my mind 🤪:

mikaelgramont profile image
Mikael Gramont • Edited

Apple manages Safari in a very conservative way. They add features not because it benefits the ecosystem, but because it benefits them. Remember, Apple makes 30% off all iOS app sales, so the Web is an afterthought for them, almost a threat.

It's not IE6 because they actually do work on it, they're just not playing the same game as say Mozilla or even Google/Microsoft.

As a result, from a developer's perspective it is super frustrating to see how they add features here and there, but skip others, and as a result they hold us all back.

Trump crossing his arms. Captioned: "Oh you want that new feature? I assure you we're working on it."

Edit: I feel bad for Safari/WebKit developers because I'm sure they want to do the right thing as much as we'd like, but it's another one of those Apple internal political game things.

bugejakurt profile image
Kurt • Edited

Safari is the odd browser and the new IE. I really hate developing something on Chrome and having to redo the whole thing on Safari because they don't support fully some API. Display grid & flex are still buggy especially with some Html 5tags such as the details/summary tag. All in all I prefer if Safari is reworked on Chromium or rewrite their engine to match with Google and Mozilla's.

joelbonetr profile image
JoelBonetR 🥇

Well the fact is Safari uses a modified WebKit while Chromium is another fork of WebKit. You can pick a good base for something but Safari is what happens when you build something bad over it.

steveblue profile image
Stephen Belovarich • Edited

I just filed a bug with Webkit and the team was very receptive, easy to work with. I found a bug in Webkit's implementation of the Web Animations API, which happens to be spec other browsers have partially supported. Go figure.

I’ve been frustrated at times with Webkit’s implementation of spec, but every browser vendor has their awkward moments. It feels like Safari has fallen behind, but I have hope for Webkit.

Safari is far better than IE. In enterprise we're probably going to be supporting IE11 at some capacity until 2025. I’d rather work with Safari any day of the week then start debugging issues in a VM running IE11.

Sometimes I feel like I am living in an alternative universe where Google and Microsoft have teamed up and left Apple behind. Oh wait, this is just 2020. Hard to believe years ago Apple and Google's browsers were running on the same engine.

The Dev Tools in Safari look rather nice. I appreciate the Dev Tools when inspecting web apps via the iOS Simulator or connected iOS device, although the initial experience feels clunky when devices don't immediately show up in the browser's Develop menu. After that point everything is fine.

I use Safari as my primary web browser all of the time. I know. Gasp! Using Safari is a pleasant experience. Safari is integrated with MacOS / iOS and typically is more performant than Chrome. The UI is minimal and functional. Websites don't just fall apart when I visit them.

daviddalbusco profile image
David Dal Busco

I used for years to use Safari as default browser for my personal use. For development I rather liked the Chrome debugger. Even though this behavior allowed me to easily test on both browser.

Recently, as I was debugging a website/pwa on my iPhone, I paired it with the USB cable to my laptop.

Because I wasn't sure if the last version was fetched or not, I decided to clean the iPhone cache (from the phone settings).

As a result, moreover than my phone's cache, my all Safari browsing history on my laptop was cleared too 🤔.

I was about to restore backup or continue with it but I actually saw there a chance to switch browser and go back to Firefox 😜.

After now a couple of weeks of Firefox usage, I can say that I'm really please with it 🚀.

joelbonetr profile image
JoelBonetR 🥇

I'm used to work with Chrome and then test it (and fix it) for FF, Edge and Safari. We don't support IE anymore and now, Safari is the new IE. I can understand why Chrome renders something on it's way as there's a logic behind, but Safari... Man there's a lot of unconscious decisions from Apple team on it and tones of incompatibilities with things that must work "as is" without prefixing. Why supporting some values for the property justify-content but not giving support to another?
I think it's just for avoid people building great efficient webview Apps, where they have no control on payments, I can't see another reason.

oliverfoxley profile image
Oliver Foxley • Edited

Lately I'm finding issues with Safari which don't occur on any other browser I need to support, sometimes even including ie10 & 11. Case in point was a recent need to use background-attachment: fixed; in a project only to discover that even now Safari doesn't support this ancient property!!

I despise iOS Safari too, it is so quirky it's beyond logic sometimes. The only saving grace is the user base updates readily leaving VH unit bugs and touch delays in the past pretty quickly. CSS animation triggered by Javascript can be anything but smooth though, where it just works great on everything else. I also still find myself needing to force hardware acceleration to prevent large images from hiding when you scroll fast on a page in iOS.

It's widely documented the quirks and issues of IE and old Edge but Safari is a turd silently lurking in the shadows behind the glossy veneer of Apple.

edave64 profile image

I have a css construct with flex-boxes that crashes the safari tab. I'm not exactly sure what it is, since I can't test safari. I'd have to buy an apple device or pay some testing environment service.

And for a private project, I'm not going to do that.

So yeah. To me, safari is just that thing that never works and I don't want to fix it. But if you do a commercial project, you are forced to support it. In that sense, it's the modern day ie.

vier31 profile image
Jan Schröder

Did you check out BrowserStack? Their free tier lets you do manual testing on a plethora of machines, even locally.

adriaaaaan profile image

We call it SafarIE as safari is the new internet explorer. It's the browser most likely to not work due to missing features or obscure bugs

miketalbot profile image
Mike Talbot ⭐

Safari iOS is frequently crippled by Apple wanting the mobile web to be differentiated from mobile apps on which they profit. There is of course an argument for mobile apps, but Apple would rather stack the deck at the expense of their users.

And here I am dealing with every other browser working with brotli compression on server sent event streams - even IE just doesn't accept it and carries on working. Safari, nah...

I agree, web kit browser, feels light to use. But it has truly frustrating faults.

quasipickle profile image
Dylan Anderson

Safari is the new Explorer. It's certainly better than Explorer, but if I have a problem with a page not rendering/behaving properly, 9/10 it's Safari.

elazarza profile image
elazarza • Edited

I hate hate hate hate and I can't stress this enough, hate all apple products. I hate their behavior, I hate the design, I hate the UI, I hate how BUGGY BUGGY BUGGY everything on apple is, I hate how perfect CSS code that runs every where is just NOT WORKING on safari, and don't tell me you need to adapt the code to safari, no, ITS BUGGY! I have no idea why people even go near their products, they're stupid, clumsy, uncomfortable, and all developers should put a BAN on apple devices, just stop developing for apple, no site should support safari, no application should support iOS, just BAN THEM!

jerzykurowski profile image
Jerzy Kurowski

Safari is next IE. There is always something that is buggy in a strange way. The days of "Safari testing" are the bad days. Today - an animation that works perfectly fine in all other browsers is 'jittery' in Safari.
Safari costs tech companies a lot of money for extra testing and creating "safari workarounds".

pavelloz profile image
Paweł Kowalski

It sucks. Especially iOS safari. Bring back ie6-ie8 memories after they were dead everywhere apart from those 3% of users that your employer forces you to support.

drnoir profile image
Chris Godber

Not a fan. Been working on a AR app recently and doing basic shit like getting sound to play using webAudioAPI has been a pain in the arse and it is only because of Safari.

At first sound wouldn't even play because it needs to detect a user tap first (expected and Chrome has a similar requirement tbf) - Funnily enough my first implementation worked in Chrome but didn't in Safari so had to explicitly call the audio method when the tap event fired. Then there is the delays , my current headache right now. On Chrome or FF audio just plays when the sound manger is called - but on Safari - nope there is a 1 / 2 second delay - meaning there is a sync problem with the animation.

But lots of people use it so there you go. Made a simple job a lot more complicated - works perfectly on FF / Chrome etc but Safari was a pain and the main hurdle for cross browser issues. But yeah tbh it my feeling is that it is sub-par and increasingly outdated.