A Complaint: Safari Reader Needs a Tweak


Safari 5 has a neat feature called “Reader.” It’s almost perfect as it renders the content of web pages in a nice, distraction-free, clean, readable format. Pressing the space bar makes the text scroll up very nicely, with subtle accelerations and decelerations, one screenful at a time, and scrolls slowly enough that your eye can follow the text you are currently reading. Excellent.

But Reader, like webpages, documents, and every other scrollable document-handling application that I know of, has one problem: scrolling to the last page. When you scroll to the last page, it doesn’t advance “a full page” as it did for the previous page advances. Instead, it only advances enough so that the bottom of the text ends up at the bottom of the window. This behavior means that your eye, used to following the current point in the text to the top of the screen, is jerked to a stop (if your reaction time is quick, which mine isn’t) or it keeps moving and is left to search out the current point in the text—jarring in an otherwise-pleasant reading experience. I think that full page advances allow your eye to see the top of the window and “know” that the scroll will stop; I have no trouble following the text and stopping at the right place for full page advances.

So the tweak I’d like to see is for the bottom of the last page to scroll up with the last, fractional page, so that the scroll amount is the same for all pages, including the last. Right now, scrolling to the last page in Reader of the review of the Magic Trackpad on Ars Technica looks like this, even though I’ve already read to the line that begins “Magic Trackpad. Nobody needs…”

Current Reader Last Page.jpg

And this crude mockup is what I’d want it to look like instead:

Desired Last Reader Page.jpg

In this way, the scroll amount is the same, no matter how much text is left in the article, and my eye could track upwards the same amount with each press of the space bar.

A nice side effect of this change is that the reference point for “a screen’s worth of scrolling” wouldn’t change throughout the Reader session, so that when I use shift-space bar to go back up, I see the same text in the same location with each screen’s worth of scrolling. So the text that was, you know, “just up at the top of the screen about halfway back in the article” is still, you know, “just up at the top of the screen about halfway back in the article.”

Otherwise? I love Reader. Nice one, Apple.

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