Posts with tag "Safari"

A WebKit powered Internet Explorer makes sense


Image via Wikipedia

It doesn’t matter what web developer you talk to but if you want to keep your head you are best not to mention Internet Explorer (IE) – especially v6.0. While the majority of users might not even care what browser they are using or if it is the fault of the browser that a web page doesn’t display correctly the developers of those sites by a very large majority hate IE with a passion.

If you walk by a web development business and you hear people screaming at the top of their lungs or weeping in the corners then chances are they are having to deal with IE issues in their website.

In contrast browsers like Firefox and Safari are the preferred browser of all web developers for a variety of reasons but primarily because they aren’t Internet Explorer. The interesting thing is that the rendering engine used by Safari is based on an open source renderer called WebKit and is generally considered to be an excellent solid engine.

Firefox on the other hand has its own rendering engine called Gecko and from what I’ve read they have no intentions of switching away from it. this has been even more interesting recently when Google released their own browser called Chrome, which like Safari uses the WebKit engine.

So here we have basically three different browsers that dominate the web and they all pretty well treat the rendering of the web differently. this difference is probably the biggest headache developers have and can lead to an inconsistent user experience for people using these browsers to make their way around the web. One has to wonder why in this day and age; plus the importance of the web we are still having these problems – especially with Internet Explorer.

Well this must have been on the mind of one student attending a developer conference in Sydney Australia this past week because this was the basis of the question he put to Steve Ballmer, CEO of Microsoft, who was speaking at the conference. As Prince McLean of Apple Insider wrote in his post

The student put Ballmer on the hot seat by asking, “Why is IE still relevant and why is it worth spending money on rendering engines when there are open source ones available that can respond to changes in Web standards faster?”

“That’s cheeky, but a good question, but cheeky,” Ballmer replied, according to a report by TechWorld. Ballmer explained that Microsoft would need to consider the future of the browser and determine if there is any lack of innovation for the company to capitalize upon with ‘proprietary extensions that broaden its functionality.’

“There will still be a lot of proprietary innovation in the browser itself so we may need to have a rendering service,” Ballmer said, adding, “Open source is interesting. Apple has embraced Webkit and we may look at that, but we will continue to build extensions for IE 8.”

This idea of IE switching over to using the WebKit engine is interesting on a couple leverls. First this would put two main browsers on an equal footing as far as rendering ability which would make for a much easier development cycle. It would also make for a better browsing experience for the users as developers would no longer be forced to program against the vagaries of IE.

If you consider that by moving to the WebKit engine Microsoft would be giving an incredible boost to an open source product as well the number of developers that would begin getting involved in making the engine better is huge. Consider that in this case WebKit would now the default rendering engine being used in IE, Safari and Chrome – that means a shitload of developers are now available to improve the common engine. It would also leave Firefox out on its own and with it’s mortal enemy IE able to claim open source and compliance rights thereby taking away the major arguing point firefox has for getting new users.

The chances of this happening I think though are next to nil but you gotto admit it would be and interesting thing to have happen. It certainly would change the dynamics of any browser war that might be going on.

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IE8 Not Ready For Prime Time Unless You Like Self-Abuse

Windows Internet Explorer 

Image via Wikipedia


As anyone who reads this blog regularly will know I like using Internet Explorer and am not a fan of Firefox. Additionally I have tried Opera through many of its versions but never stuck with it for whatever reasons. Where Safari is concerned I have tried it since the first version for Windows was made available and if it wasn’t for one bad bug I would probably end up using it over Internet Explorer. So being a regular user of IE I obviously was interested when they announced that the second beta of the browser was available for download and grabbed myself a copy.

I also know very well that this release was still considered a beta and as such isn’t meant for anything more than finding the bugs on the road to going gold. So with that understanding I installed IE yesterday and proceeded with my daily routine and waited to see when and how IE would fall down – if it did. As far as any of the settings for it I left everything at the defaults that it would have imported from my previous IE 7 install which will be the case with your average user who downloads and installs it. I won’t bother going into any great details about the changes or supposed improvements because that has already been well covered by Ed Bott which you can read about on his ZDNet blog.

What follows here instead is some of the problems that I have experienced in using this release. Some are ones that should be expected from Microsoft’s move the bring IE right up to current web standards and others are those weird and wonderful ones that come from using beta software. As a startup reference point the following graphic displays the resources begin used by a default install of IE 8 Beta 2 with 3 open tabs:

IE 8 Startup with 3 open tabs (Task Manager)

Now being the typical blogger that I am the first site I checked out in the browser was WinExtra which played pretty well with the only exception being the Lijit search widget. For some reason in IE it insists that the button goes under the text entry field but in IE7, Firefox and Safari it displays as it should right beside the text area

Lijit Search Widget

One other thing that I found wasn’t working in the way the plugin company or the blog owners intended it to is the Snap plugin. On blogs that have it enabled IE 8 users will see the following example when visiting

Snap plugin

Then whenever they hover a Snap linked item they will see the following

Snap Plugin

The displayed popup should be displayed right of off the linked text rather than the top left hand corner. While I am sure that most people won’t be concerned since the Snap plugin isn’t one of the more favoured plugins by blog visitors.

The one other big problem I had was with the Share This option link which allows visitors to share the selected post with their various networks like Digg. While it displays okay within the posts

Share This Link 

And it should show like this – as it does in Firefox

Share This Firefox

What we get on WinExtra when we click the link is this instead

Share This Extended IE8 WinExtra

And at this point the browser locks and when you look in Task Manager you see it chewing through resources where it starts from the base amount shown in the first graphic of the post and continues to climb until you kill the IE process in Task Manager

IE8 WinExtra Share This Extended

Restarting I figured I would try again using another site to test only to find that when I clicked on the Share This link the page went white

Share This New Tab Mashable

And once again looking in Task Manager we can see it chewing through the resources in the same way as it had done in the other test

Mashable Share This Extended

At this point I figure I have had enough fun and call it quits on any more checking out of Internet Explorer 8 because quite obviously – or at least from my experience – this browser isn’t ready for any real serious use. What I have to find out now is can this be rolled back to IE 7 or am I going to be really pissed at myself when I find out I’m stuck until the next release.

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Safari is one step closer

Safari gets closer and closer. Back in June I wrote about my impressions of the then just released Safari web browser from Apple. At the time I liked some of what I was seeing and experiencing with Safari but there were two irritations I had that definitely wasn’t making my user experience good enough to switch permanently. The most minor of the two was the minimize and restore from the Windows Taskbar – it didn’t work but the real deal breaker for me anyway was its bad habit of stripping the paragraph formatting when I was trying to save an edited post.

Well the other day Apple pushed out an update for Safari [3.0.4 (523.12.9)] so I figured I would have another look to see how things were coming and whether I could retire IE7.

At this point though it doesn’t look like it. They might have fixed the minimize and restore so that it works in true Windows fashion but unfortunately the format stripping bug is still there and even though I don’t write any posts via a browser I do make a lot of corrections due to my lousy typing. So here’s some info for the Safari team should they read this (ya .. okay … sure dream on :) ). When I save an edit Safari is stripping all the paragraph tags inside of the first set of starting and ending paragraph tags – think you could maybe see about fixing that please.

Now I did run across one other irritating page display problem/bug as well in that Safari doesn’t display the mouseover tooltip for any graphics used in the posts. Okay so this might not seem like much but I usually try and include some sort of smart ass comment as part of the graphic alt/title tag (sometimes helps makes sense of why I used the graphic I did as well) but it still irritates me both as a reader and the writer.

I’ll keep trying Safari each time they push out the update but I can say this – the moment they fix that paragraph formatting bug chances are IE7 will be taking a bit of a vacation.