Camino Sends OS-X A Valentine

When it comes to browsers, there are many options for Apple users such as Safari, Opera, and Firefox. And then there is Camino, a browser that combines the visual and behavioral experience of a Mac with the speedy Gecko core. Originally called Chimera, it has been nearly four years in the making.

While it is not as visually stunning as a Safari, it is a brisk browser, that makes its peers seem almost asthmatic. While I miss the wonderful extensions that come with Mozilla Firefox, the speed and performance of Camino makes up for its shortcomings. I have been using Camino as my primary browser for sometime. After many months of hard work, the team from Camino is about to announce Camino 1.0, an apt Valentine’s Day gift for Mac users. I emailed the Camino guys a list of questions, and Mike Pinkerton, the project lead of The Camino Project emailed back in what amounts to be a short yet snappy e-interview.

Om Malik: Mike, who are the key folks behind camino project?
Mike Pinkerton: The project is comprised solely of volunteers (nobody gets paid to work on Camino). The “core” team of developers, testers, and support staff hovers around 10-15 people, with hundreds of other volunteers contributing code and testing. The names most worth mentioning are:

  • Core developers – Mark Mentovai, Josh Aas, Simon Fraser
  • Core QA and testing – Smokey Ardisson, Nate Weaver, Chris Lawson, Ludovic Hirlimann
  • Website, Content, and Design: Jasper Hauser, Samuel Sidler
  • Localization: Ludovic Hirlimann

(Of course) we would be nowhere without our loyal community.

OM: What prompted you folks to start The Camino Project?
MP: Dave Hyatt and I started Camino as an experiment, but we quickly realized that Mac users wanted something that integrated much better with Mac OS X than the current Mozilla products were able to deliver. We wanted to harness the speed, stability, and standards support of Mozilla’s Gecko HTML engine and wrap it with the ease of use, simplicity, and consistency provided by Apple’s Cocoa development platform. It would be the best of both worlds. Dave left the project about six months after we started and I took over as project lead. (More here)

OM: What are the main differences between Mozilla Firefox and Camino?
MP: The core difference is in philosophy. We want to make the best Mac-native browser, not just one that happens to run on Mac as a port. The browser internals are very similar to those of Firefox (the Gecko rendering engine) but the front-end is pure Mac OS X native. We also support many Apple technologies that Firefox does not, including Address Book, Bonjour, Keychain, Spotlight, etc.

OM: I miss all those Firefox extensions. Any plans to add extension support?
MP: We recognize this is a problem for our users, but extensions only exist because of the cross-platform UI layer upon which Firefox is built. It’s that same cross-platform UI layer that makes Firefox feel “wrong” on Mac OS X. Camino’s use of Cocoa for the user interface makes it fit in with the rest of the platform, but prohibits us from using extensions. We feel this is a trade-off worth making. That said, we are investigating ways to allow non-user-interface extensions to register and work correctly.

OM: What can the users expect in the near future?
MP: We really hope to have RSS discovery, spell checking, improvements to the download manager, and much more for 1.1. We’ve been in a holding pattern for a while getting 1.0 ready to be released and we’ve got a bunch of other features piling up that weren’t quite ready for prime time, but will start showing up in nightly builds very soon.

Download Camino 1.0 from their website.