When the Stainless project started, we were using Mac OS X 10.5 Leopard. PowerPC Macs were still around, but Google Chrome would run on Intel-based Macs only. As a response to Chrome, Stainless featured its own multi-process architecture. One of the advantages of such architecture, in plain words, is that each open tab in the browser is a separate process. If a Web page has some component (or bad code) that compromises the stability of the browser, only that tab would ‘crash’, and could be subsequently closed, without bringing down the whole browser. If I’m not mistaken, at the time Stainless launched, it was the only browser for PowerPC Macs with such a feature, and I loved it for that. I have also loved Stainless’ overall speed, and it’s the only third-party browser I keep on all my G4 PowerBooks with Mac OS X 10.5.8.
Another Stainless feature I really like and use often is parallel sessions. As the Stainless homepage explains, these “allow you to log into a site using different credentials in separate tabs at the same time. This new technology is woven throughout Stainless, from the private cookie storage system, to session-aware bookmarks that remember the session in which they were saved.” For me it’s been a quick way to check two or three different Gmail accounts without opening my email client, to make just one example.
I’ve always followed Stainless’ progress as version numbers approached the 1.0 goal, but roughly after version 0.7, introduced on 22 September 2009, updates have been getting few and far between (version 0.7.5 went live on 4 November 2009, but we had to wait until 25 July 2011 for version 0.8). Even the developer’s Twitter account lacked updates, and I was starting to think that the project had been abandoned — a real pity.
But on September 28 the developer broke the silence with a tweet announcing their decision:
After long consideration and much guilt about the state of the project, I’ve decided to make #stainless open source.
Followed by another:
If you are an OS X dev who is interested in participating, please email me at software[AT]mesadynamics[DOT]com, thanks!
I have already retweeted both tweets, but I felt like posting about this hoping to reach an even wider audience. I really hope some Mac OS X developer responds to Mesa Dynamics’ plea and helps perfect this nice, lightweight browser. It would be a shame if Stainless became just another piece of abandonware.