Shiira, which bills itself as The Next Browser for the Mac, released version 2.0 yesterday. Being something of a browser nut, I had to give it a test drive. According to their website:

Shiira is a web browser based on Web Kit and written in Cocoa. The goal of the Shiira Project is to create a browser that is better and more useful than Safari. All source code used in this software is publicly available.

It’s fast, I’ll give it that. It renders pages much more quickly than Firefox. And although it uses more memory, my system doesn’t feel as sluggish. Of course, that could simply be wishful thinking on my part. Here’s the breakdown according to Activity Monitor. Each browser has 7 open tabs.

firebix-bin Real Memory: 71.23MB Virtual Memory: 441.50MB % CPU: 1.8 Threads: 8

shiira Real Memory: 104.81MB Virtual Memory: 442.90MB % CPU: 0.0 Threads: 7

It has a shelf which shows all of your bookmarks (Shiira, Safari, Firefox, etc.) as well as your Address Book, surfing and download histories, and Collections. The Collections section is where you configure different search engines.

The interface is clean (for a browser) and, as I mentioned, it renders websites very quickly. However, for a version 2.0, there are some surprising things missing. A quick perusal of their 2.0 Functional Request forum gives a good feel for it’s shortcomings. Currently, you can’t change the location for downloaded files. All files download to the desktop. There is no user agent masquerading. It doesn’t remember website credentials, such as userid and password. While it does provide some keyboard shortcuts, there are issues with changing these. In my mind, these abilities should be present in a version 2.0.

All in all, I really like Shiira. Unfortunately, it’s shortcomings currently outweigh it’s good points. I’m going to keep playing with it, but will be returning to Firefox soon. However, once Shiira begins to mature, it’ll be strong contender.