My #1 browser feature

I just posted this, in response to Asa Dotzler’s question «What feature do you love most in your favorite browser and why?»

My answer:

The most important distinctive feature for me:

Allow me to easily save a complete and browser-independent version of any webpage, so I can preserve important content for the future, and be sure that I can read it ten years later.

Currently both Firefox and Chrome do it right, saving a .html file together with a folder containing images, .css and .js.

Safari does it wrong: it creates a compiled/encrypted .webarchive that only Safari can open. Good luck with reading that in 2022.

Ten years ago, when the default browser for Mac users was Internet Explorer 5, I saved loads of web archives in the exotic compiled/encrypted format that IE5 was producing. About 50% of that content has disappeared from the web in the meantime.

If I want to read those archives today, I need to reanimate some legacy PPC machine, since the format is not compatible with any other living (or dead) browser (even IE6 on Windows cannot open it).

For me, this is the first distinction between modern web browsers. All of them can browse webpages. But some allow me to save content that will remain readable in the mid & long-term future, overcoming link-rot and 404’s. Some don’t, and therefore cannot be trusted as reading/archiving tools.