|Developer(s)||The Omni Group|
|Initial release||March 17, 1995|
5.11.2 / 20 July 2012
|Operating system||Mac OS X 10.4.8 or later|
|Available in||English, Finnish, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Simplified Chinese, Swedish|
|License||Proprietary (browser), LGPL (WebKit)|
OmniWeb is a discontinued web browser that was developed and marketed by The Omni Group exclusively for Apple's macOS operating system. Though a stable version is no longer maintained, it is still available as a free download and unstable versions are still being released.
OmniWeb was originally developed by Omni Group for the NeXTSTEP platform, and was released by Lighthouse Design on March 17, 1995 after only one month's development time. As NeXTSTEP evolved into OPENSTEP and then Mac OS X, OmniWeb was updated to run on these platforms. These early versions of OmniWeb also run on Microsoft Windows through the Yellow Box or the OpenStep frameworks. After Lighthouse Design was bought by Sun Microsystems, the Omni Group released the product themselves, from version 2.5 onwards. From version 4.0 onwards, OmniWeb was developed solely for the OS X platform.
OmniWeb was developed using the Cocoa API which allow it to take full advantage of OS X features. It uses Quartz to render images and smooth text. It makes use of multiple processors if available, and features an interface that made use of Aqua UI features such as drawers, sheets, and customizable toolbars.
The Omni Group originally employed its own proprietary HTML layout engine that use standard API NSText components. However, this engine was very slow, particularly when scrolling, and was not fully compatible with the most recent web standards, such as Cascading Style Sheets. In OmniWeb version 4.5, the Omni Group adopted Apple's KHTML-based WebCore rendering engine, which was created by Apple for its Safari browser.
On August 11, 2004, the Omni Group released version 5.0 of OmniWeb which added a number of new features. The most notable addition was an unusual implementation of tabbed browsing, in which the tabs are displayed vertically in a drawer on the side of the window (including optional thumbnail pictures of the pages.) Despite a certain amount of controversy over the merits of a tab drawer over a tab toolbar, the feature persists through the final version.
On September 7, 2006, version 5.5 was released. Major new features include the use of a custom version of WebKit instead of WebCore, universal binary support, saving to web archive, support for user-defined style sheets, a "Select Next Link" feature, FTP folder display, ad-blocking improvements, updated localizations, and many other small changes and bug fixes.
OmniWeb was Omni Group's flagship app but as OS X web browsers improved—Apple eventually bundled Safari into OS X— and Omni successfully introduced other products such as OmniGraffle and OmniOutliner, OmniWeb's importance diminished. OmniWeb's price was successively lowered, first to $39.95, then on February 24, 2009, Omni Group announced that OmniWeb would be made available for free, a change from its previous price of $14.95. The Omni Group official website now states that the browser is no longer under active development.
OmniWeb was popular in the early 2000s when the OmniGroup's experience developing for OpenStep (which became the foundation for Mac OS X) gave them an edge over other developers. Until Apple's Safari, the Omni Group had the best support for Mac OS X technologies among its competition (chiefly Mozilla Firefox and Internet Explorer for Mac). John Siracusa, a technology journalist and critic writing for Ars Technica, said, "Finding [this level of functionality] in a proper Mac OS X application from a respected developer with a proven track record is like finding a perfect 1/10,000th scale replica of the Eiffel Tower in a box of crackerjacks. Then the tower transforms into a tiny robot and makes you lunch."
Text is now displayed in our own custom view instead of a modified NSTextView.