I probably should start out by letting everyone know that I am biased – I’ve been using FireFox for a number of years now and am pretty certain that I will be using it for many years to come. And for those that know me, you may not be surprised at all that I’m currently using the latest beta version (as of this writing, Firefox 4.0 Beta 7, you can visit their beta site here) of the browser to enter this post. To see a review by Matthew (on behalf of Lockernome), check out the video here.
I’m a huge fan because Firefox is extremely configurable. I’m thinking the new features will win over many folks, and they are looking at what other browsers use (like Synch) as well as what users have developed or really want and are updating as appropriate! I love it that FireFox is still standards-based and will support HTML 5.
But this post is not all about FireFox, I mentioned in an earlier post that Microsoft is currently in beta testing for Internet Explorer 9. As of this writing they are also in beta release 7 (you can see their beta site here). While (in this writer’s opinion) IE has not been accused of being standards based for many versions, they have made an effort to move more towards standards compliance, and that is a welcome move.
From the various tests and information on the site, IE will also have a decent overhaul. Quicker, supporting more graphic options, and looking towards HTML 5 are also in their offerings, along with security enhancements. It looks to be a nice update!
Google’s Chrome browser is in version 9 beta testing (you can find their beta site here). While this may seem strange (since version 8 was just released in stable version to the public), it is important to keep in mind that browsers are applications. As such, they are always in a state of development and refinement based on changes to standards, user needs and updating technology (think smart phones, pad / tablet technologies as well as updating web development / presentation applications, etc.). Chrome has been another strong browser that you may want to install and give a try – it is a very capable application.
Opera … believe it or not, is also in beta for version 11 (you can see their beta site here). I love the play off of Spinal Tap in their site (and if you have no idea what I’m talking about, you either haven’t seen This Is Spinal Tap or you don’t remember it … and shame on you if you fit in the latter category, go watch it again). Again, loads of promising features!
All the browsers are promising better performance (touted as speed). They also look to have better features for us, the user community. So the question becomes – when will you update? Some people adopt quick, others – not so much. If your computer can handle the software, I would encourage you to update to take advantage of the new features as well as increased performance.
If you don’t adopt and upgrade, at some point you will not be as pleased as you can be with your surfing experience. And for developers of web sites out there – you need to test in multiple browsers to ensure your content is showing up as you intended across these different applications.
Thanks for reading, I’m looking forward to FireFox having a stable release of version 4 early in 2011. What are you looking to update to? Feel free to leave a comment or thought – unless you’re going to comment on why I didn’t include Safari (hey, they are at version 5, and let me know where their beta URL is and I’d be happy to – why does Steve J. make it hard?).
Let’s start off by stating what is going on (or has been ongoing, as the case certainly is…). Microsoft’s Internet Explorer is at the top of the heap when it comes to the amount of folks using the web through a particular browser. They are still at the top and have been there since the browser war was won over Netscape many years ago (for those interested, a really nice look at this part of history is found on the show ‘Download: The True Story of the Internet‘ on the Science Channel). And as of February 1, 2008, Netscape officially ended support for their browser (learn more about that here).
That’s all nice and good, but why should you care? If you are a web designer, it certainly makes a difference because you will be designing to the ‘lowest common denominator’. I am a strong advocate of designing to web standards (for more on standards, visit W3.org where you will find loads of information on various language standards). If you design it based on standards, it should function reasonably and render fine across multiple browsers.
Let’s look at a few browsers, because most web designers will have multiple browsers installed on their computers and will test the sites they design using many browsers. First, Internet Explorer. This is the most used browser – period. Why is that? Because it comes preinstalled on most Window’s based computers. And many people just want to ‘get on the web’, they don’t really care what browser they use. With the advent of version 7 (and I love the tag line on the site – ‘we heard you, you wanted it easier and more secure’) users finally get tabbed browsing, phishing filters, and other items other browser users have been enjoying. The fact is this – being the biggest gorilla in the zoo make IE a huge target for malformed code, attempts at hacks and a field day for those doing less-than-desirable things to users across the globe. Please understand I’m only stating the obvious, not attacking Microsoft for any reason. The bottom line here is your web site better work with this browser or you have lost the majority of site visitors – period.
The next browser is Firefox. This is a Mozilla-code base browser and came on the scene with little fanfare and was a huge hit. It is a standards-based browser, which means testing your site with this is a must. If all looks good and works good here, then having it work with IE will not be an issue. IE is very forgiving and renders poor code in a kind way…and that can truly be a bad thing! Firefox is the browser of choice for me due to it being a light (in download size and system resources used) and easy to use lots of awesome plug ins. Also, the user community does a great job with security and updates as well.
Not wanting to forget Mac users (and Windows users as well), Safari is another browser to look at. Of course, here is where I may want to also say that it would be real nice to have multiple platforms to test our pages on, but I know I don’t have that luxury. That is another good reason to have this browser on your machine, to make sure it renders as you expect.
Another browser is Opera. This has a slick / elegant interface and is a nice addition to your suite of testing browsers. And that’s only the beginning, there are loads of others, just click here to visit Wikipedia and learn about the time line of various browser releases and about a bunch of other browsers.
Lastly – for those doing web design, you need to understand that there are different capabilities for various technologies in each of the different browser as well as in each of their versions. For various charts comparing browser capabilities and the technologies they support, visit this link from WebMonkey. For some of the bugs, click here to visit the RichInStyle site and see some of the known bugs.