iCab 3.0; CSS compatibility updated

iCab 3.0 is a surprisingly good, independent Mac (OS X and 9!) browser created by Alexander Clauss. It has good (though not perfect) CSS1 and DOM1 support, and to my surprise it even contains a speech browser. More than enough reason to recommend iCab to all Mac users that read my site, and to update my CSS compatibility table.

Back in February 2000 I came across an obscure Mac browser named iCab. In those days I tested every browser I could lay my hands on, and therefore iCab was featured in several compatibility tables on the old JavaScript Section.

Later, when I founded QuirksMode.org, I decided to focus on those browsers that have CSS1 and DOM1 support, and iCab didn't. I tested version 2.9.8 in May 2004, and was not impressed. It didn't support absolute positioning and :hover. W3C DOM? Forget it.

Just now I took another look at the new iCab 3.0 beta, and discovered it's a good browser well on the way to becoming excellent. Let's take a look at some features:

  1. Since its birth iCab is in beta. This used to be slightly laughable, but with the advent of Web 2.0 perpetual betas have become hip and happening. Therefore iCab is without a doubt the ultimate hip Web 2.0 browser.
  2. iCab supports WaSP's Acid 2 Test almost perfectly. There's just one little white line that isn't supposed to be there.
  3. iCab's support for the CSS I test is roughly equal to Opera's; not a bad score at all.
  4. As a bonus, iCab is the only browser to support white-space: pre-line. Rather useless in practice, but it's an example of the trouble iCab's programmers take to support CSS.
  5. iCab seems to support DOM1 rather well, but I haven't yet formally tested it. One thing is certain: it doesn't support my navigation frame (probably because it doesn't support fetching new CSS and/or script files).
  6. iCab is also available for Mac OS 9, and given the sparsity of browsers for this OS it's probably the best choice.
  7. As a bonus, iCab has an in-built speech browser. It seems to work correctly, although, not being blind, I cannot really judge speech browsers.

An iCab licence is $29 or €29; I bought one. Please support Alexander Clauss if you like this browser.

This is the blog of Peter-Paul Koch, mobile platform strategist, consultant, and trainer. You can also follow him on Twitter.
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1 Posted by Johan Olsson on 25 January 2006 | Permalink

I think it's worth mentioning that iCab 3.0 is also available for Mac's with OS 9, one of few new browsers for that platform. I constantly tell my OS 9-friends to dump IE and get iCab instead.

2 Posted by ppk on 25 January 2006 | Permalink

Thanks Johan. That's important indeed. I added it to the main text.

3 Posted by James Rankin on 25 January 2006 | Permalink

I never thought that this browser would amount to much, but it has. I'm a Mac OS 9 user, and iCab 3.0.1 has now become my 2nd favourite browser after Mozilla 1.2.1.

4 Posted by TarquinWJ on 10 March 2006 | Permalink

The white line on Acid 2 is a result of the font settings, you will usually get it only if you already used iCab 2 on the same profile (they have different font settings). If you trash your profile and try again, it should not have the white line.

WRT DOM support;

* Generally the support is very good. The DOM support they claim is DOM 1 HTML (not XML - although they have most of that, just not all), and the most popular parts of DOM 2 (certainly not all of it).

* getElementsByTagName does not return a "live" NodeList - deleting the referenced elements does not remove them from the NodeList.

* It is not possible to manually fire DOM events using dispatchEvent

* (not quite DOM) They plan on introducing XMLHttpRequest, but to my knowledge, it will only return responseText, not responseXML