Safari: Safari Reader for News Articles

Apple launched Safari 5 for Mac and Windows. In addition to a better support for HTML5 and a much faster JavaScript engine, Safari added an interesting feature for reading news articles and blog posts.

“Safari Reader removes annoying ads and other visual distractions from online articles. So you get the whole story and nothing but the story. It works like this: As you browse the web, Safari detects if you’re on a web page with an article. Click the Reader icon in the Smart Address Field, and the article appears instantly in one continuous, clutter-free view. You see every page of the article — whether two or twenty. Onscreen controls let you email, print, and zoom.”

The feature works well, but the “Reader” option is not always available. It’s quite difficult to detect news articles and to extract their content, so Safari’s heuristics are far from perfect. Safari Reader is especially useful for sites that split articles into multiple pages to increase the number of page views. Some of these sites offer a printer-friendly version of the article, but that’s usually difficult to read.

If you’re using Google Chrome, there’s an extension called Readability Redux which offers similar features. Firefox users can install the Readability extension. Both extensions are based on the Readability project, whose goal is to make “reading on the Web more enjoyable by removing the clutter around what you’re reading”.

Opera, Safari Beat Chrome On Google’s Own JavaScript Conformance Test

Back in June, Google launched Sputnik, a suite of tools that runs over 5,000 tests to check a web browser’s JavaScript conformance. Last week, they made the tool a lot easier for anyone to use, with a version that works in the web browser. The results are interesting.

Opera, Safari Beat Chrome

Notably, both the Opera and Safari web browsers beat Google’s own Chrome browser in the test. As you can see in the picture above, Opera is the clear leader, with only 78 failures (the closer to the center, the less errors). Safari came in second with 159 errors, with Chrome in third with 218 errors. Firefox is close behind with 259 errors, while Internet Explorer is the outlier with 463 errors.

These tests were run on Windows machines, with the latest released version of each browser. Using the web tool on my Mac, though, shows similar results (at least for Opera, Chrome, Safari, and Firefox — there is no IE for Mac anymore).

While much of the focus on JavaScript is about speed (that’s what the SunSpider test measures, for example), Sputnik is interesting because it focuses on conformity, making it more like the Acid3 test, which tests web standards compliance. Chrome, Safari, and Opera have all passed Acid3, with Firefox getting very close (94/100 for Firefox 3.6). IE, meanwhile, again lags behind with just 20/100 for IE8. And even the new IE9 preview only scores 55/100.

Speaking of IE9, I tried to run the Sputnik tool in the preview build of the new browser on Windows 7. Unfortunately, it completely shut down several times after getting up to about 50 failures after only a few hundred of the 5,000+ tests — not a good sign. But again, it’s just a very early preview release of the browser, and early SunSpider results for the browser have been good.