Choose Your Browser Engine with Lunascape

Click here for screenshotsWith the browser wars back in full swing, Web surfers now have an unprecedented amount of choice when it comes to what browser they will use. However, along with choice can also come the unwelcome side effect of Web sites that display better in some browsers then in others (although, to be honest, the main culprits are sites that work in Internet Explorer and not other browsers). This means that some Web users need to maintain multiple browsers on their systems, perhaps using Firefox as the main browser but keeping IE for some sites that require it. The best solution is of course for all sites and browsers to fully support standards, which would mean all Web sites would work the same on all browsers. But until that day another solution may be browsers that can run multiple browser engines. This is the idea behind Lunascape5, a browser from Japan that can run the IE Trident engine, the Firefox Gecko engine and the WebKit engine that powers Apple's Safari and Google Chrome. While using the recently released alpha version of the browser, I was able to quickly switch between the three rendering engines for different sites and could even assign an engine to be always used whenever I visited a certain site.

Click here for screenshots
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With the browser wars back in full swing, Web surfers now have an unprecedented amount of choice when it comes to what browser they will use. However, along with choice can also come the unwelcome side effect of Web sites that display better in some browsers then in others (although, to be honest, the main culprits are sites that work in Internet Explorer and not other browsers).

This means that some Web users need to maintain multiple browsers on their systems, perhaps using Firefox as the main browser but keeping IE for some sites that require it. The best solution is of course for all sites and browsers to fully support standards, which would mean all Web sites would work the same on all browsers. But until that day another solution may be browsers that can run multiple browser engines.

This is the idea behind Lunascape5, a browser from Japan that can run the IE Trident engine, the Firefox Gecko engine and the WebKit engine that powers Apple's Safari and Google Chrome. While using the recently released alpha version of the browser, I was able to quickly switch between the three rendering engines for different sites and could even assign an engine to be always used whenever I visited a certain site.

On launching, Lunascape asked me to select a default engine (which I could change any time) and then I was off and browsing. I could change the rendering engine any time from the View menu or I could use the nice auto-switching feature to assign an engine to specific Web sites.

The feature set of Lunascape5 is itself pretty broad, with an almost kitchen-sink range of capabilities. These include good RSS reading features, mouse gestures and some good script security features.

However, Lunascape5 lacks some of the security features found in newer browsers, such as deep SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) certificate information and color coding and anti-phishing features. Other aspects of the browser certainly have an "alpha" feel to them, and the browser's Japanese roots show in some of the English used in dialogs and settings menus.

While Lunascape5 can run three different rendering engines, more of its roots appear to be in Internet Explorer and, as such, the browser is available only on Windows. Also, even though it can run the Gecko engine, Lunascape5 does not support Firefox extensions.

Speaking of which, users who prefer the Firefox interface can duplicate some of the functionality of Lunascape5 through the use of extensions. There are several Firefox extensions (such as IE View and Safari View), that make it possible to switch between rendering engines within Firefox.

Right now the Lunascape5 browser probably isn't ready for prime time, but it does embody an interesting concept. Those wanting to check out the free alpha of Lunascape5 can find it at www.lunascape.tv.