Welcome to Macintosh

iCab 4 Abandons Support for the Classic Mac OS

- 2008.01.17

Bong! . . . :-) . . . Welcome to Macintosh!

Towards the end of 2007, many of you read my plea to the community to keep the flame of the Classic Mac OS alive by creating a modern web browser. You'll also take note that I mentioned iCab as the only browser still currently being developed for the Classic Mac OS.

It appears that has come to an end with the latest release of iCab, which is version 4.0. iCab 4.0 is Universal Binary, and it no longer supports the Classic Mac OS - or versions of OS X earlier than 10.3.9.

Pound another nail in the coffin for our beloved OS.

The cab in iCab 2As for iCab 4.0 itself, it has a refined interface that's more Apple-like in its layout. But one of its key charms is gone, unless I'm missing something. No more cab in the upper righthand corner to show you it's loading your page. While many may say I'm nitpicking, I feel that the little touches are just as much a part of what makes a good program as the functionality of it.

While I can fully understand the reasoning behind the decision to drop Classic Mac OS support, I can't help but think someone out there or a group of people within the community could create a modern, up-to-date browser for Classic. The OS itself still has plenty of life left in it, if only someone were to take up the challenge of creating a viable browser for it.

I'd like to take the time to thank Alexander Clauss, the lone developer behind iCab, for the splendid work he did creating the Classic version and sustaining it for so long. You helped make Classic viable for a little while longer.

Anyone out there care to carry the torch on into the future? Email me at thomas (at) lowendmac (dot) com with your thoughts!

Be sure to com back for another Welcome to Macintosh tomorrow. LEM

Editor's note: The last version of iCab for Mac OS 7.5 through 8.1 and 680x0-based Macs, 2.9.9b, was last updated in May 2006, as was vesion 2.9.9a for PowerPC Macs, which works all the way up through Mac OS 9.2.2 (including Classic mode). Here's what "classic" iCab looks like - note how it doesn't support Low End Mac's modern, CSS-based design:

iCab 2.9.9b in classic mode on my Power Mac.

iCab 2.x was the last version to display the taxicab, which goes for a drive while pages are loading. iCab 3 came with a new interface and good support for Cascading Style Sheets. As you can see below, it does a great job of rendering Low End Mac's home page. Version 3.0.5, the last to support the Classic Mac OS, was finalized on Dec. 31, 2007.

iCab 3.0.5, the last version to use Alexander Clauss' rendering engine.

iCab 4 is the first version to use Apple's WebKit rendering engine instead of the rendering engine that Alexander Clauss developed over the years. Because it depends on WebKit, it requires Mac OS X 10.3.9, the oldest version that includes Safari 2. I've been using it for two weeks now, and except for problems with Yahoo Mail and Gmail, it's been working just fine. dk

iCab 4.0.0 uses WebKit to render pages, and they look great.

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