inessential by Brent Simmons

NetNewsWire and HTML rendering

A number of emails have asked me if NetNewsWire will use the new HTML rendering engine that Safari uses.

Great question.

I’d like to include a better HTML renderer in NetNewsWire, and perhaps even include a mini-browser as an option for viewing stories so you don’t have to jump to your web browser.

Coincidentally, the weekend before MacWorld I downloaded the Mozilla source to see how Gecko integration might work. As a test case I did a version of BlogBrowser that uses Gecko instead of Apple’s built-in HTML renderer. (The pre-Safari renderer.)

It worked wonderfully. Totally cool.

Except that BlogBrowser was suddenly 258.8 MB in size.

Holy frijoles!

Obviously there’s a way to strip that down, or else Chimera and Mozilla would be much huger than they are. (On my machine Chimera is 21.4 MB.)

Still, though, a rough guess tells me that adding the Gecko renderer would add ~15 MB to NetNewsWire’s size.

Safari, on the other hand, is 7.1 MB. Adding Safari’s renderer would add about 4 MB to NetNewsWire. A better choice in terms of size—and it appears that Safari’s renderer is faster, too.

On the other hand, Safari appears to do a less good job of rendering sites. My sites and are totally broken in Safari. I don’t know why (yet)—maybe it’s a bug in my HTML or CSS, maybe not.

So... what does all this mean for NetNewsWire? No decisions yet. More investigation is needed.

I like very much that there’s a choice. Neither option is perfect. There are trade-offs.

But I prefer having a choice, with all its trade-offs, to having no choice.