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Old Jan 4, 2013, 10:07 AM   #1
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How Safari Pretended to Be Mozilla Before It Was Released




Former Apple employee Don Melton is sharing a unique look behind the scenes of the Safari development team. Melton was the team leader on both the Safari and WebKit products that are now used by millions of users on both iOS, the Mac, and Windows.

Previously, Melton explained how the Safari name came about, but today he shares the tale of Safari's User Agent string and the strategies his team used to keep the project under wraps.
Quote:
Twitter and Facebook didn't exist then. Nobody at Apple was stupid enough to blog about work, so what was I worried about?

Server logs. They scared the hell out of me.

When a Web browser fetches a page from a Web server, the browser identifies itself to that server with a user agent string -- basically its name, version, platform, etc. The browser also gives the server an IP address so the server knows where to return the page. This exchange not only makes the Web work, it also allows the server to tell who is using what browser and where they're using it.

You can see where this is going, right? But wait, there's more...

Back around 1990, some forward-thinking IT person secured for Apple an entire Class A network of IP addresses. That's right, Apple has 16,777,216 static IP addresses. And because all of these addresses belong together -- in what's now called a "/8 block" -- every one of them starts with the same number. In Apple's case, the number is 17.

IP address 17.149.160.49? That's Apple. 17.1.2.3? Yes, Apple. 17.18.19.20? Also, Apple. 17.253.254.255? Apple, dammit!

I was so screwed.
Melton's blog has the rest of the details about how his team kept things quiet before the big reveal.

Article Link: How Safari Pretended to Be Mozilla Before It Was Released
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Old Jan 4, 2013, 10:35 AM   #2
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Does anyone keep track of how many 10's of millions of instances of Safari are alive in any given day, week, month, or year?
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Old Jan 5, 2013, 03:00 PM   #3
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Originally Posted by Rocketman View Post
Does anyone keep track of how many 10's of millions of instances of Safari are alive in any given day, week, month, or year?
No, but back then and to this day you can check server logs for abnormal registries. That's how some sites are getting instances of iOS 7 and iPhone 6,1. Throw out the 99% of logs that are known browsers and units, then sift through the remainder.
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Old Jan 5, 2013, 03:24 PM   #4
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Originally Posted by stevedun View Post
Safari was a pain in the neck in it's early versions before becoming the gold standard in Mac web browsers. I've been a Safari advocate for years now.

Version 6, however, is infuriating. The reload-on-back behavior is unacceptable. I use the trackpad or Magic Mouse to swipe back a page, and the animation looks great, but the fact that it forces a reload of the page, delays me while it reloads, and often puts me at the top of the page is a real detractor. I'm trying to deal with it until something changes, but I may need to hop ship to an inferior browser if this basic functionality is not addressed.
Safari I still find is a pile of crap. It never really was that good. What is crystal clear that really shows how bad it is just look at its usage stats. Before it was released to windows it was less than 5%. Release to windows it is still sub 5%. Mac usage has grown and it is on multiple platforms and yet it still is not getting much more usages. FF and Chrome have are doing better and growing. Hell pains me to say it but I find IE 8+ to be better than safari. I only use safari now days for testing when I have to. Other wise chrome or FF. On my windows PC I go Chrome, FF, IE and then god help me if I need to drop into safari.
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Old Jan 4, 2013, 12:58 PM   #5
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I like safari on mac, but for windows it's left far behind.
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Old Jan 4, 2013, 01:48 PM   #6
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I'm not surprised that Apple was aware of the need to hide a product under development while creating Safari, but I'm surprised that they haven't done this more routinely for all of their product development.

Leaks from logs are still a great source of rumors for us rumormongers. Example: Mac OS X 10.9 showing up in web logs
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Old Jan 8, 2013, 12:20 AM   #7
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I'm not surprised that Apple was aware of the need to hide a product under development while creating Safari, but I'm surprised that they haven't done this more routinely for all of their product development.

Leaks from logs are still a great source of rumors for us rumormongers. Example: Mac OS X 10.9 showing up in web logs
That's easy to explain: they don't care about that. We all know OSX 10.9 is coming at some point. There's no secret there. If the version after 10.9 were to be called 11.0, that'd be a secret again. (Btw, I expect it'll be 10.10).

No one knew Safari was coming. Big secret, and now one of their biggest products (as you know Safari's engine, WebKit, is the basis for almost all mobile browsers and a bunch of desktop browsers among which Chrome.)

It's kind of the same with the hardware revision numbers. Every now and then a big whoop will be made about a new iMac32,1 number showing up in some plist file. Apple doesn't care about that: it tells you nothing, except that at some point in the future there will be a model iMac that is newer than the current model iMac. Which we all already knew. Now, if you were to find a new model RackMack in there that'd be interesting again (and unlikely because it'd be kept secret), seeing as how the RackMac (better known as the Xserve) was discontinued. The same goes for any completely new platform. No FlatMac1,1 will appear in any plist file before a machine calling itself FlatMac1,1 is announced.
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Old Jan 4, 2013, 06:40 PM   #8
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Back around 1990, some forward-thinking IT person secured for Apple an entire Class A network of IP addresses. That's right, Apple has 16,777,216 static IP addresses. And because all of these addresses belong together -- in what's now called a "/8 block" -- every one of them starts with the same number. In Apple's case, the number is 17.
That forward thinking IT person was me. :-) I managed the internal address space for Apple before the internet became the internet. We used an invalid network number (well, a public address that we didn't own) and when it came time to join the internet, we had to get a real number.

NAT didn't really exist at the time, so I justified the address space by calculating how many computers we had, our average subnet size, and showed that only a "Class-A" network (/8 in CIDR notation) could possibly work.

At first Joyce Reynolds (the amazing and now famous numbering mistress at USC's ISI) assigned us 21, which belonged to the military. After a few sweetly apologetic emails, she assigned us 17.

I joked with her that we went from being old enough to drink, to being a teenager.

I left Apple in 1993.

-JJJB
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Old Jan 4, 2013, 11:54 PM   #9
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I wonder how much it cost them to grab a Class A block in the early '90's?
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Old Jan 5, 2013, 12:08 AM   #10
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I wonder how much it cost them to grab a Class A block in the early '90's?
a lot of dough I would say
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Old Jan 5, 2013, 12:10 AM   #11
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I have to admit this was an incredibly boring story. Changing user agent strings? Snore....
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Old Jan 5, 2013, 12:12 AM   #12
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Originally Posted by mobilehaathi View Post
I have to admit this was an incredibly boring story. Changing user agent strings? Snore....
Well every day can't be the discovery of penicillin
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Old Jan 5, 2013, 12:21 AM   #13
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Well every day can't be the discovery of penicillin
Perhaps I'm just not the target audience..... oh well.
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Old Jan 5, 2013, 02:07 AM   #14
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Originally Posted by avanpelt View Post
I wonder how much it cost them to grab a Class A block in the early '90's?
Didn't cost a dime. Address space has always been basically free, you just have to justify its use.

-JJJB
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Old Jan 5, 2013, 10:06 PM   #15
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Didn't cost a dime. Address space has always been basically free, you just have to justify its use.

-JJJB
Address space is a lot more expensive now that we have RIRs, but it is still just administration fees, you aren't "buying" anything. Apple (and any company that was assigned address space prior to the RIRs) are "grandfathered" in and just have a $100 a year fee to Arin (if they are in the Americas). I don't know about the other RIRs. Basically the fees just pay for the record keeping. Don't need any duplicate addressing!
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Old Jan 5, 2013, 02:50 AM   #16
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These articles about Safari are just great.
Article 1: Safari Developer Doesn't Remember Where the Name 'Safari' Came From.
Article 2: Safari Developer Used a Fake User Agent String Before Safari's Official Release

What's next?

Anyway, to each his own but Google Chrome still beats Safari in many areas:
- Chrome is multiplatform; you can sync your tabs even if you use a pre-Lion Mac, iOS 5 devices or even a Windows PC
- Chrome's UI is cleaner and simpler
- Chrome's UI is actually snappier (Safari and Firefox were almost unusable on my old iMac because of that)
- Chrome has Flash built-in
- Chrome auto updates by default
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Old Jan 5, 2013, 08:07 AM   #17
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These articles about Safari are just great.
Article 1: Safari Developer Doesn't Remember Where the Name 'Safari' Came From.
Article 2: Safari Developer Used a Fake User Agent String Before Safari's Official Release

What's next?

Anyway, to each his own but Google Chrome still beats Safari in many areas:
- Chrome is multiplatform; you can sync your tabs even if you use a pre-Lion Mac, iOS 5 devices or even a Windows PC
- Chrome's UI is cleaner and simpler
- Chrome's UI is actually snappier (Safari and Firefox were almost unusable on my old iMac because of that)
- Chrome has Flash built-in
- Chrome auto updates by default
while all these are true, something always pulls me back to Safari. I think it might be that safari feels more solid. It might also be that Safari matches the UI scheme of the rest of os x. I like the look of chrome but I prefer to have continuity across my OS.

EDIT: I know what it is! Scrolling! Safari is unrivalled in the department of scroll
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Old Jan 5, 2013, 10:23 PM   #18
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while all these are true, something always pulls me back to Safari. I think it might be that safari feels more solid. It might also be that Safari matches the UI scheme of the rest of os x. I like the look of chrome but I prefer to have continuity across my OS.

EDIT: I know what it is! Scrolling! Safari is unrivalled in the department of scroll
Ohhhh neato!
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Old Jan 6, 2013, 02:02 AM   #19
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The linked article states "(n)ot only was I tasked by Scott Forstall with building a browser"--this implies that Forstall was the software guy who initiated the process of bringing Safari into existence--arguably the best and most influential Apple app ever--WebKit is the core almost every mobile smart phone browser.

If anyone wants to know more about Forstall's background at Apple and in the tech world I recommend reading this article. This article states that Forstall was the key player in the following software's origin:
- Bringing Unix To the Mac
- The Aqua User Interface
- iOS
- Android (since Android was basically a cheap stolen copy of iOS)

Jobs brought Forstall with him from NeXT! Forstall has been a core Apple employee.

Apple losing Forstall might be the biggest mistake Apple made since Steve Job's passing--however I can't speak for issues he was said to have had with other Apple executives and employees (which could be a serious issue). I do believe, however, that Forstall may no longer be getting the credit he deserves for getting the software to work right at Apple--the credit that Steve gave him when he was alive.

The fat man who wants to retire (Mansfield) might just be too lazy to go along with Forstall's motivation to work hard to put in the time and effort to strive to push technology forward--same with Cook who seems to be too laid back for a serious technology company that innovates and moves things forward.

The decision to replace the key Apple hardware expert (Ive) with Apple's key software expert (Forstall) doesn't seem to be the right one considering software and hardware are as opposite extremes as land and water--Apple is trying to put the head of the Army in charge of the Army and the Navy so to speak. Land and water don't work the same--not even close! I do like Ive's apporoach however and it will be neat to see if Apple software will be more seamless with the hardware--I just hope that the things that software needs (that Ive could be unaware of being a hardware guy) don't lack because of Ive's past focus on hardware by it self. I became an Apple user because of the software--not the hardware--it is hard for me to see Forstall go.

It will be neat to see where Forstall goes next and it would likely benefit many of us to watch him. Considering MacRumors about a year ago shed light on Forstall being Apple's "CEO-in-Waiting"--this firing of Forstall looks a lot like Steve Jobs being pushed out of Apple when John Scully and the other board members forced him out--maybe a decade from now Forstall will return as CEO of Apple as Steve did. Maybe instead Forstall will start a very successful company of his own that will compete with and overtake Apple. We will see if the decision to get rid of Forstall seals Apple's fate for Apple's quality to plummet. Overall from the information that I have come across, Forstall's ousting doesn't seem to be good news to me.

I am still on Snow Leopard (which I am assuming Forstall was responsible for since he was responsible for Leopard)--I can't stand Federighi's approach--I made a spreadsheet of dozens of unresolved problems with the new Apple OS X approach that are driving me away from upgrading to an inferior OS. I think this is the end for Apple's quality standard that was existent with Jobs at the forefront. I hope Forstall finds a way to still bring the world beneficial software in the future.

Note: I haven't posted on MacRumors in years due to religious discrimination but I thought many readers could benefit if I shared my thoughts on this MacRumors news story pertaining to Forstall. (My religion is Christianity--specifically Messianic Judaism--don't discriminate MacRumors.)

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Old Jan 6, 2013, 10:20 AM   #20
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Originally Posted by GodBless View Post

I am still on Snow Leopard (which I am assuming Forstall was responsible for since he was responsible for Leopard)--I can't stand Federighi's approach--I made a spreadsheet of dozens of unresolved problems with the new Apple OS X approach that are driving me away from upgrading to an inferior OS. I think this is the end for Apple's quality standard that was existent with Jobs at the forefront. I hope Forstall finds a way to still bring the world beneficial software in the future.
I understand the appeal of SL; Lion was a mess. But ML seems somewhat improved. What are the top bugs/unresolved problems from the dozens you mention above?
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Old Jan 6, 2013, 07:56 PM   #21
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This article states that Forstall was the key player in the following software's origin:

- Android (since Android was basically a cheap stolen copy of iOS)
You just crapped all over Andy Rubin's work since 1998 with that statement. Android, the OS, has nothing to do with iOS at all. For one thing, Android is Dalvik on top of a Linux kernel while iOS is simply the Obj-C runtime running on top of Darwin. Right there you can see the OSes aren't "copies".

----------

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Originally Posted by MisterKeeks View Post
You can still get up to date builds of Webkit for Windows. I don't have a Windows computer to test them on right now, but I assume it is visually identical to Apple's build of Safari for Windows.
Or just use Chrome, it has always had a much more recent build of Webkit than Safari anyhow.
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Old Jan 4, 2013, 10:15 AM   #22
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THIS is why I love Apple. Just a bunch of geeks running a company. Now I Cant say Mr. Cook is much of a geek. But the ones who do everything to run apple, are.
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Old Jan 5, 2013, 11:08 AM   #23
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THIS is why I love Apple. Just a bunch of geeks running a company. Now I Cant say Mr. Cook is much of a geek. But the ones who do everything to run apple, are.
I think every tech company is run by geeks.

----------

"Mozilla/5.0 (Macintosh; Intel Mac OS X 10_6_8) AppleWebKit/534.57.2 (KHTML, like Gecko) Version/5.1.7 Safari/534.57.2"

So THAT'S why it says Mozilla. I thought Safari actually had something to do with Mozilla.

----------

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Originally Posted by Kobayagi View Post
Exactly. What also annoys me is that they made the tabs so huge. Now, when you want to close a few of them, you can't simply stand on the X icon and keep clicking, but you have to track down the X every time you close a tab because they keep changing in size.
Just use the keyboard shortcut CMD+W.
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Old Jan 6, 2013, 07:50 PM   #24
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So THAT'S why it says Mozilla. I thought Safari actually had something to do with Mozilla.
Actually, it says Mozilla because the KHTML folk made it say Mozilla. Heck, Internet Explorer's user-agent string says Mozilla, always had. User agent string checking in CGI scripts is as old as dynamic web pages. Browser makers have been adding bits of each other's strings as they implement compatible syntax checking and rendering so as not to break server-side HTML serving to their software (get the default crap page instead of the nice shiny page).

Mozilla just happens to be that "default" thing everyone and their brother has in their string (comes from Netscape).
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Old Jan 4, 2013, 10:26 AM   #25
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Itīs interesting the fact that he says Scott Forstall was a great boss.
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