Cédric Bellegarde, the developer behind the popular Lollypop music player, returns with a completely new crazy project: a web browser. From her pretty name, Eolie web browser.
A new web browser for the GNOME desktop environment, while everyone else is already leaving the official browser to the benefit of the tenors of Firefox and Chrome? We are therefore curious to try the beast, to try to understand what has passed through the head of its author.
Eolie and its tab bar as thumbnails
We are dealing with a GNOME application and its famous header bar. And the first thing that concerns us is the tab bar, which is no longer at the top of the screen but in a column on the left. The latter does not just display only the names of the different sites but offers a preview of each one as thumbnails.
A right-click on the tab bar offers the possibility to choose from three modes: thumbnail preview, which is the default choice, site name and favicon or a minimalist panel that is limited to favicons. The latter option allows you to easily display several dozen tabs on a Full HD screen. Beyond that, you can scroll through the list using the mouse wheel or use the search function to filter the results.
Eolie web browser and its minimalist tab bar
As for the address bar, it does not display the URL but the name of the site. A simple mouse over the mouse will still display the mouse. It's probably more aesthetic, but hiding such information may encourage phishing.
The history window of Eolie web browser
To continue on the interface, I found the window of the history incredibly clearer than that of Firefox. You will say, it is rather easy, so much the latter is catastrophic. It still lacks the ability to define a time period or to perform contextual searches like a Vivaldi.
To stay on the historical questions, one will also note the support by Eolie web browser of Firefox Sync, thus authorizing the sharing of the marks pages and the history between the two browsers and their synchronization on different machines.
From a technical point of view, the browser is developed in Python and uses the rendering engine WebKitGTK + (which is it, developed in C ++ ). The developer can, therefore, concentrate on the interface without having to worry too much about this gargantuan song that is the engine of rendering Web pages. And for those who are asking the question, each tab is well rendered in its own process, which makes it possible to make the most of the modern processors with many cores. The crash of a tab does not entail the rest of the browser in its fall.
The management of the identifiers and passwords of the various sites is done through Seahorse and GNOME Keyring.
Eolie Web Browser Extensions
Another important topic is extensions. Now that the different browsers have agreed on a common format, the famous Web Extensions, Eolie will no doubt end up taking care of them. But for now, I have found no way to install it. However, it should be noted that the browser offers an ad blocker enabled by default.
For a first version developed by a single man in just three months, I am really amazed by the work accomplished. Both on the number of options already proposed and on the stability of the whole. And it is in these moments that we observe the beauty of the free and the standard formats. Since it is obvious that without a free engine, the different GNOME technologies used or a standardized extension system, such a project would hardly have been possible.
Now, it remains a version 0.1 that the author discourages to use on a daily basis. For my part, I hope that we can move the tab bar to our convenience soon and opt for a more traditional model if we want. As well as support for Web Extensions or the addition of a session manager. Afterwards, everything will be played on the small details, like being able to cancel the closing of a tab or quickly cut the sound of one of them. If we do not find our little habits, it will be difficult to change.
There will also be a question of the target audience and the number of options that will be proposed in the future. If a browser like Vivaldi has found its way to the giants, it is that it is aimed at all confirmed users. As can be seen with Web, a good integration with the rest of the GNOME environment will not be enough to be adopted, and it will not only have to propose all the usual functionalities but also propose new ones which could no longer happen.