Posts Tagged ‘Acid3’

Internet Explorer Drama… 9.0!

Saturday, March 20th, 2010

With the latest IE9 announcements, designers and developers have been going mad with what one might call Internet Explosion.

Stuff like the following: (not real quotes; just paraphrasings)
“No!!11 Just stop developing IE!”
“Only Acid3 score of 55/100? Other browsers did that YEARS ago!”
“It’ll be five years behind!”
“We’ll have to support FOUR browsers!”
“Why don’t you use webkit; Trident is dead.”

People are proving to be extremely closed-minded about IE. What I find very ironic is that a lot of them say things like, “MS, stop developing IE!”
That happened. They stopped after IE6, right at the end of the Dark Ages. And you see what life became?

About five years later, they picked up the pieces and race to bring IE into the future. IE7 is still annoying, but IE8 (released in early 2009) is a perfectly good browser for its time. IE9 should be competitive, with basically everything being clamoured for today.

A few misconceptions

There have been a host of ill-conceived arguments. I’m just going to list every correction I can think of:

  • Acid3 has little to do with compatibility. It tests edge cases, in a sort of wish-list for developers. It can be important for high-level cross-browser online applications, but you really wouldn’t tell a difference between browsers in a regular web-page.
  • Firefox has historically had a fairly ‘low’ Acid3 score, with 71 in Fx 3.0. The Firefox team has even said something like, “We aren’t going to bend over backwards for it, because it’s not really what we’re aiming for.”
  • IE8 is soaking up both IE6 and IE7; and you don’t have to ‘support’ IE8 in the same ways as IE6 and IE7, any more than you have to ‘support’ Firefox or Safari or Chrome. Things tend to test pretty well in them, by default. IE9 will be similar.
  • There is a non-negligible percentage of users on Firefox 2, Firefox 3, and Firefox 3.5. Nobody is complaining about supporting four different versions of Firefox. Thankfully, Fx2 is almost dead.
  • Even two years ago, CSS3 was nearly unheard of, and nothing had HTML5 features. Now a browser with border-radius and HTML5 video is five years behind?
    The things we’ll be deciding in the next year likely won’t find their way into the final release of IE9; but CSS3, HTML5, SVG, and various other standards we never ever expected to find in IE are already there, with more to be added. It’s coming along.
  • Actually, IE9’s current compatibility score, as counted by the When Can I Use charts, is similar right now to Firefox 3.0’s July 2008 release — less than two years behind, in the context of every toy we’re asking for as developers.
  • Trident is fine. When we speak of the Trident layout engine today, and we’re talking about IE9, then we’re talking about Trident in IE9, and that’s a perfectly fine engine. Overall, it’ll be lacking some features, but will not be holding itself together with duct-tape and paper-clips. There’s a difference.
  • As a company, Microsoft has gone through some huge changes in its history. The Internet Explorer development team isn’t the same team who gave us IE6. Don’t harass them (the development team) for things they couldn’t have possibly helped.

Almost every current browser team has its demons to face. IE is no different, but we should look to the future with optimism. Help where we can, and condemn where we must, but don’t frivolously argue about things that aren’t relevant to today.

And maybe help IE6 along by preaching Progressive Enrichment, hmm?

Browsers. All of them.

Tuesday, June 9th, 2009

Safari 4 is out!
Google Chrome was the first browser to achieve 100/100 on the Acid 3 test, and now Safari 4 is the second. Neither pass, but that might have more to do with my machine. Opera just announced the beta release of 10, which also boasts 100/100. Both Safari 4 and Opera 10-beta render it as the reference, but lack the speed. Chrome has that X in the corner and fails the linktest.
IE8, of course, is behind the times. I’d rank it with the last generation of browsers, like how Sega’s Dreamcast caught up with other consoles just before the new generation of consoles came out. Sega quit the console war, but I don’t think Microsoft will quit the browser war for another two or three years.
What worries me, at this point, is what I heard from Mozilla; things like, “achieving 100/100 on Acid3 is NOT a priority for the 3.5 release.” That’s the exact same stuff we hear from Microsoft. Mozilla has the bonus, though, of having a million contributors who all think differently, so while some people think Acid 3 is nothing and should be avoided, others will be working on it. They’re in the 90s, at least.

I honestly don’t know, at this point, where Firefox lies. It’s slow and imposing, but extremely powerful. It doesn’t have a lot of the features of other browsers, but it has more features than a lot other browsers have. It’s not going to have some of those new thing that are being put forth by Opera, Safari, and Chrome, but it will be fixing up pretty much everything it already has. No-one can possibly predict how the new one will run, because it sounds so different. I’ll leave it be until the stable release.

Safari 4

Safari has snubbed me. They’ve removed the tab functionality from the title bar, and instead carved out a band of the screen under the address bar. At least they don’t have all those File/Edit/Window/Help buttons (press ‘Alt’ to show it). Ooh, they’ve got a text-only zoom, for those who want it.
The browser itself has a nice look to it. It uses your colour scheme, so it won’t look out of place, and looks very smooth. My only problem is that I use the old Win2000-style title bars, which are blocky. I see that border around it, too. Does Chrome’s different GUI have some specific fault to it? If not, why don’t all the browsers customize themselves in such a way?
Once again, I’ll mention Safari’s document inspector. You can burrow through the code, view all the elements inside a particular tag, see exactly how long it takes to download each element and how much is weighs, debug scripts, and directly edit the DOM. It’s basically the same one Chrome uses, but Safari’s actually works. I can’t find a single bug in this one.

Opera 10

Ooh! What can I say? It’s amazing. You can actually drag the tab bar downwards to get a thumbnail of the page you’re viewing. You can open a tiny side-menu to check things like widgets and favourites. It has, of course, its usual set of accessibility controls, such as images and screen width. If I could meld Opera, Safari, and Chrome all together, I think I’d get my preferred browser.
Opera’s usual problems apply. It’s still got the windows title and borders, and the main menu sticks out like a sore thumb. It’s a bit of a pain to customize, because as you drag items everywhere you have to delete them from other places, and it’s extremely hard to drag bars anywhere. I think a good drag-and-drop customisation scheme is one of the things Opera is missing. I guess I’m used to Microsoft Office.
With my cost/bandwidth on mobile internet, it’s tempting to use something which compresses data on the server side and allows me to browse without images. I’ve already racked up more than 100MB in the last few hours, which seems to translate to almost $5. I’ll talk about that in my next post.

Since mid-2008, I’ve wanted to go through all the browsers and give an in-depth comparison between each of them. When Opera and Firefox release, I think I will.