Web Devout tidings

Archive for the 'Browsers' Category

Opera 9.5 released

Thursday, June 12th, 2008

Yes, I know. I’ll be testing its standards support, too. Firefox 3 will be released this coming Tuesday, the 17th. I won’t have the standards support information done yet for either browser, but I hope to finish the CSS sections this weekend and put that up by Tuesday.

Firefox 3 RC 1

Monday, May 26th, 2008

It’s browser testing season again. Since the first Firefox 3 release candidate has been released, I will begin testing its standards support and adding it to the site. As usual, I’m going to start with the CSS section and post an update when the initial test data is complete.

Rather than using a standard test suite, I prefer to write custom tests as I go. This allows me to get into the nooks and crannies of standards support, but it does take longer. Starting now, I’m going to save all of the test cases of bugs that I find, and at some point I’ll make those test cases publicly available.

My testing process usually works like this: I initially assume that everything with a “Y” in the last version also has a “Y” in the new version, so I’m not testing for regressions in my initial test data. This saves a lot of time, and I can add regression information later as it is found. Next, I go through each “I” and “N” and retest the browser’s support. Features that still have “N” support go by quickly, so it’s the “I” features that take the bulk of my time. The time it takes to complete a section depends on a number of factors, such as the demands by my day job, how scorching hot the weather is, and whether or not the pizza has arrived yet.

In regard to Safari 3 information, that will not be part of this test session. Adding information for a new browser from scratch is a ton more work than updating for a new version, and I want to get the Firefox information out there quickly. At some point, though, I’m going to bite the bullet and do the Safari 3 testing, even if the information isn’t very thorough at first (the IE, Firefox, and Opera information started off very rough as well). Until then, here are some sites you can check out for Safari (WebKit) support information: SitePoint Reference, Wikipedia, Quirksmode.

Internet Explorer 8 beta 1

Thursday, March 6th, 2008

Microsoft has released the first beta of Internet Explorer 8. I won’t give a final assessment of its standards support and whatnot until the final release, but here are some of my impressions on the beta so far:

  • It’s really really slow. I feel almost like I’m using Amaya. In particular, the Web Devout site is nearly unusable because the heading backgrounds take forever to render (they are just tiled 2×1 alphatransparent PNGs).
  • Switching to IE 7 mode requires a browser restart. That’s a little annoying, especially since it doesn’t gracefully restore your session like Firefox does during addon changes.
  • It broke the Web. I took a run through Alexa’s top 20 sites (cue rant about Alexa’s methodology), and about half the sites had big glaring display glitches. Yahoo is busted up, CNN is bleeding content… even Microsoft’s own Live.com looks like it has seen better days. I predict that the Web is about to have a lot more meta tags.
  • Web Devout’s headings are standing tall, but not very proud. It looks like IE 8 has a problem with negative margins in generated content. In fact, IE 8 seems to have lots of problems with generated content (which I pretty much expected). Other than that, it’s actually making a good effort at rendering Web Devout properly without any IE-specific rules that apply to IE 8. Still not up to scratch with the other browsers, though.
  • IE 8 still fails 9 tests in the brief CSS test suite I made for IE 7 a while ago.
  • Did I mention it’s really slow?

Keeping in mind what IE 7 beta 1 was like, I’m hoping IE 8 will improve a ton before the final release. But for now, the browser is too slow and buggy to actually use, and it doesn’t help web developers much because there will probably be a lot of additional changes before anything in the engine is final. I’ll dive into it more once Microsoft announces that it’s layout-complete.

Al Billings on the late IE feedback system

Thursday, September 20th, 2007

Al Billings, who left Microsoft and the Internet Explorer team in May 2006, has just made a lengthy post about “Borgzilla” (his name for the mismanaged Internet Explorer public bug database which was shut down around the time that IE 7 was released).

Al pretty much confirmed my take on the situation: Microsoft didn’t dedicate enough resources to the project and didn’t provide the users with the tools they needed to use the system effectively. He also explains that there was a disconnect between the public bug database and the IE developers, since the IE team was primarily working with their own private bug database.

Toward the end, Al offered the IE team some suggestions to improve their relationship with the web development community. I have to say, I completely agree with Al’s conclusions in this post. To people on the outside, it feels as if the IE development team has died again. We’re sitting here today with no real clue about what to expect in IE’s future beyond what we already knew a year ago. All of the latest posts on the IE blog are about the present or the past. The last few posts in Chris Wilson’s blog are about lolcats and vacation. I want to hear the IE developers’ opinions about HTML 5 and what parts (if any) are planned for IE 8. I want to know if display:table and friends, :before and :after, and outline support are currently being worked on. I’m not even asking for any promises; just some real open discussion.

Stop referring to the W3Schools browser usage stats

Friday, May 18th, 2007

It seems like more and more people lately have been linking to the W3Schools browser statistics page mistakenly thinking that those statistics are supposed to represent the Web as a whole.

Stop it.

The W3Schools browser statistics page only gathers data from the W3Schools server logs, which means it only counts W3Schools users. Most people who go to W3Schools are web developers (usually of the amateur-to-moderate range). Web developers are well-known to have dramatically lower Internet Explorer usage than average people. Just take a look at Web Devout’s visitor statistics, which currently show Firefox ahead of Internet Explorer by 15 percentage points.

This is not average. Firefox doesn’t have around 50% market share. It doesn’t have around 33% market share. It doesn’t even have 20% market share yet, by most accounts.

Most major web analytics companies agree that Firefox usage right now is right around 15%, Internet Explorer usage is around 80%, Safari usage is around 5%, Opera is below 1%, and everything else is smaller. Trend-wise, Firefox usage is generally reported to be increasing at a quickening pace, Internet Explorer usage is shrinking at a quickening pace, Safari usage seems to stay proportional to overall Mac usage (likely due in large to the fact that it’s the default browser on the Mac, the same reason Internet Explorer is so widely used on Windows), and Opera usage isn’t changing much. The Wikipedia article organizes the various groups’ data pretty well.

The W3Schools browser statistics page shows drastically different results than this, since the measured audience is so far from average. The page even says this below the figures:

W3Schools is a website for people with an interest for web technologies. These people are more interested in using alternative browsers than the average user. The average user tends to use Internet Explorer, since it comes preinstalled with Windows. Most do not seek out other browsers.

These facts indicate that the browser figures above are not 100% realistic. Other web sites have statistics showing that Internet Explorer is used by at least 80% of the users.

There also seems to be a strong misconception that W3Schools is somehow related to the W3C. It is not. W3Schools is a completely different group from the W3C with a completely different purpose and no significant affiliations. In fact, W3Schools has a large amount of information which directly conflicts with the standards. Their webpages follow lots of bad practices including table elements for design layout purposes and other presentational markup, serious misuse of XHTML, and the use of nonstandard elements like embed. W3Schools should not be considered an expert source on web standards.