Top 10 specialty Web browsers you may have missed

These oddly useful alternative browsers offer such advantages as 3-D searching, social networking, easy scriptability, and powerful page manipulation

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Specialty Web browsers: Browse smarter on Mac OS X with Cruz, Fake, and Fluid

These three browsers from Todd Ditchendorf of Celestial Teapot Software are probably each worthy of an entry on their own, but they’re lumped together for simplicity. All of them work only on Mac OS X and use the same core rendering engine. The value comes in the way that they package the information.

Cruz, for instance, unpacks results from websites like Google and then fetches the links, renders the pages, and displays the results in a tab with the same basic CoverFlow that Apple uses in iTunes. The browser also tracks your Twitter account in a sidebar in much the same way that Flock does. There's no reason to have a separate window that gets lost in all of your other tabs and windows. That essential information drip of 140-character updates is always available.

Cruz will download all of the links from a Google search and display them in a Cover Flow window at the bottom.

Fake is an ideal tool for website programmers and managers. You can use AppleScripts to control the behavior of the browser -- perfect for testing. While Cruz and Fluid are free, Fake costs $29, but it's probably worth the price if you're worried about quality control.

Fake combines a Safari browser with an AppleScript scripting tool. It's easy to drag a series of browser actions together into workflows to automate testing or onerous tasks such as filling in Web forms.

Fluid builds "site-specific browsers," which are stand-alone browser applications that go to one site and one site only. They're like Safari but without most of the controls and buttons. Opera has a similar feature and calls them widgets. They're quite useful in computer labs and other public settings where people could use an open browser for reasons that aren't necessarily what the kiosk is supposed to be doing. Each time you run the program, it will suck down the Favicon from the URL bar and use it for the icon to the site-specific browser.

If you need a simple application that goes to one website, Fluid will produce it for you -- no extra buttons, just the website.
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