Maxthon Releases Alpha Version of Max-3, Soon to Be the World's First Automatic Hybrid Browser

Company: Maxthon
Published: 25 July, 2009
Maxthon today released alpha version 4 of its new browser, Max-3, for public download and testing. When the complete version of the browser is released, early next year, Max-3 will be the Internet's first browser to use automatic-detection hybrid technology to power its display of Web pages.

Max-3 will contain two rendering engines. One is the Trident engine already in the current version of Maxthon, as well as being used by Microsoft's Internet Explorer.

The second rendering engine, Webkit, is newer than Trident, and used by Google's Chrome and Apple's Safari. Both of those browsers have won praise in reviews for their rendering speed. Early benchmark tests of Chrome found it to be 42 times faster than Internet Explorer 7, and nine times faster than Firefox 3. Max-3 is expected to have similar speed advantages.

A rendering engine is a collection of code that translates the text-based HTML and Javascript instructions into signals used to correctly display a Web page that could include photos, graphic decorations, video, and text.

Trident is relatively little changed since it was introduced several years ago. Since then, design trends have introduced such innovations as CSS with different functions, the W3C standard, and different aesthetics. The result is that a page rendered by Webkit may look fine. When Trident tackles the same page, it doesn't understand the newer instructions and botches the display.

Webkit, however, may not properly construct one of the millions of older Web pages originally designed to display on systems running only Internet Explorer.

Max-3 is designed to provide the best of both rendering engines.

Shifting Gears

In Maxthon's hybrid rendering engines, running display commands through Webkit is called Ultra Mode in recognition of its extreme high speed and its ability to work with the latest Web design fashions. Ultra Mode significantly improves JavaScript execution and page loading speed. It has also much better support for the W3C standards, as evidenced by Max-3's passing the W3C's Acid2 and Acid3 tests.

Most of the time, Max-3 will operate in Ultra Mode. Max-3 may encounter pages, such as certain online banking sites, that Webkit cannot display. When that happens, Max-3 automatically suspends Ultra Mode and engages the Trident engine to put the browser into Retro Mode. As the name suggests, Retro Mode will function to display correctly Web pages that have used the same design commands that originated some 20 years ago. The switch from Ultra to Retro is seamless and ordinarily goes unnoticed by the user.

If the browsing mode is not switched automatically, the user can make the switch manually by clicking the Browsing Mode button next to the address bar. Maxthon makes a data entry about the mode selected by the user, and automatically activates that mode during return visits to the page.

The hybrid engines are available for testing in the new alpha. Other major updates to the alpha code include:

* Auto-Update Module, allowing Max-3 to be updated online.

* Address Bar Optimization. The bar now supports smart sorting of its drop-down list and shortcuts for completing URLs. For example, users may type the first part of a URL and complete it with Ctrl+Enter for .com, Shift+Enter for .net, and Alt+Enter for .org.

* Added Favicons for display in the Address Bar, Tab Bar, Favorites Bar, and Favorite List.

* Smooth Scrolling Support. Web pages will move smoothly when scrolling the mouse wheel.