Become a fan of Slashdot on Facebook


Forgot your password?

A Browser War Preview 205

Yesterday's link to a review comparing three modern browsers is only a taste of what is sure to come when the final versions of the new versions of Internet Explorer and Firefox hit the Net, but it offered some insight into what users actually want and expect from browsers. Readers seem for the most part to have strong favorites of the current (and upcoming) crop of browsers, and much of the discussion really boils down to a comparison of features and compatibility. Read on for the Backslash summary of the discussion.
Bogtha offered one of the most insightful comments on the issue of Web standards

"Browsers are lousy in terms of supporting the various specifications people have published that define useful things web developers want and need to do. This has numerous effects:

  • It slows down and frustrates web developers.
  • It raises the costs of web development.
  • It makes some things impossible.

"All of these are pretty bad for web developers, but they have knock-on effects that end-users suffer from, but don't understand. For example, when was the last time you ran across a bug on a website? Did you ever consider that a web developer would have got around to fixing it before you had trouble with it if he hadn't been busy trying to work around a bug in Internet Explorer?"

"The Acid2 test is merely a collection of all kinds of ways in which browsers screw up support for particular specifications. The idea is that it contains lots of things that browsers get wrong which cause hassle for web developers, and that browser developers can use it as a check-list for bugs. It's also a gimmick to raise awareness for these bugs to put pressure on the browser developers to fix them."

The more browsers that pass the Acid2 test, the better support there is for web developers. The better support there is for web developers, the higher the quality of the work they put out. And you, as an end-user of that work, benefit."

Reader AK Marc griped that "Opera gets no respect," despite seemingly good showings when stacked up against other popular browsers, writing

"I like Opera. I use Opera. I read the comparison, and Opera looks to come out favorably. Then I read the comments. Firefox compared to IE, again and again. Reasons why Firefox is better. Reasons why IE is better. Reasons why more people use IE. But there are fewer comments on Opera. I can't understand why. It has lots of things that Firefox needs extensions for built right in (and without significant differences in resources), and some things, like bittorrent support, that aren't available in any extension. It has better standards compliance than the other two. It has Widgets (like extensions) if you want to expand it more. But yet, a 3-way comparison is treated as a 2-way comparison. I thought this would be more of an eye opener, 'Wow, I didn't know Opera did all that and did it better than the other browsers!' But instead, the comments read like the posters glanced at the IE and Firefox pages of the article (if they read it at all) and hopped right back on the IE vs Firefox war. I find it sad that a competitive browser receives to little consideration, especially from a group that is supposedly early adopters.""

"Me, too," wrote reader lee1. "I think there is a reflex to ignore Opera because for so long it was pay- or ad-ware."

Reader bartkusa also spoke up for Opera

"Opera's UI is extremely customizable []. Skinnable interface and lots of flexibility with toolbar and button placement, on the output side. On the input side, you can set up your own keyboard shortcuts and mouse gestures if you don't like the default ones."

Dan East pointed out a glitch in the linked story as originally displayed:

"Their memory usage charts cannot possibly be right:

  • Memory Usage Loading Six Tabs
  • Firefox 2 Beta 1: 73K
  • Internet Explorer 7 Beta 3: 70K
  • Opera 9.0: 52K
  • IE 6.0: 155K
  • Firefox 56K

A single image on one of those pages could require more RAM than what the entire program is consuming. That's way, way off. What's even more amazing is, going by their charts, Opera actually consumes LESS ram with 6 pages loaded than when it first starts up! 53k -> 52k"

Reader dtfinch had another complaint: "The "Features at a Glance" table is very inaccurate with respect to Opera. For one, Opera has very good theme support."

Several readers offered rationales for the continued popularity of Internet Explorer; among these, according to reader chiller2, is better printing support compared to Firefox.

"e.g. In Firefox the scaling to fit the page just squeezes the content between wider margins rather than actually scaling the pages.

"Just yesterday a work colleague was trying to print off a page that was split horizontally into two frames. The top one had a company logo, and the lower one the table of figures she actually wanted. Printing normally just output the first bit of the lower frame. I had to view that frame only to get the full table in the frame to print."

Reader fuzzandwater complained "It's ridiculous that [the linked review's authors] defend IE by claiming 'no pages seem horribly messed up,'" writing "Clearly the author is not a web developer. If he were, he would know that the reason the pages display correctly in IE is javascript hacks, css workarounds, web developer headaches, Dean's IE7 javascript library, a separate stylesheet for IE, etc... It's not that IE is inherently displaying the sites correctly, it's that the site developers were forced to make them play nice with IE."

LWATCDR piles on the Explorer complaints, writing "It seems like a good number of people use Firefox now. So unless you want to exclude 1 out of 10 users from your site can not support just IE. I will not due business with a company that has an IE only site. Now the rub is this. IE doesn't support current standards. Yes, web developers have every right to complain about Microsoft ignoring standards and making their life more complicated. Because of IE I can not use PNG files with an alpha channel on websites I design.

"Just because most people use junk that is no reason to
a. Not tell them that is junk.
b. Try to get the producers of said junk to make it better.
c. Try to get people to use a better product."

Yvan256 raises the interesting point that as Windows changes, whether a browser is backward compatible makes a difference:

"Will Internet Explorer 7 run on Windows 95/98/ME/NT4? If not, then MSIE7 won't be ... And with Nintendo going with Opera for both the Nintendo DS and the Wii, Opera's marketshare might soon explode beyond 1-2%. Just keep that in mind before jumping into the 'MSIE7 has nice proprietary features' train."

Reader El_Muerte_TDS asks just what a "Favorites button" is, asking "Is it like a bookmark button?" To this, readers responded that "favorites" (in Internet Explorer) are equivalent to "Bookmarks" in most other browsers.

Blimey85 asks "What about extensions?," arguing that "Comparing stock Firefox with anything [isn't] very relevant. You need to compare Firefox loaded with some extensions to show the true power of the platform. Same with the other browsers and their add-ons or widgets."

"One example of not doing this is in the feature comparison table where it says that Firefox can't remember open tabs for the next session. My copy of Firefox not only does that when I want it to, it also has crash recovery so when I restart I can choose to reopen all of the tabs or not."

Yvan256, among others, thinks this is a double-edged sword: "The problem with Firefox is the extensions. People want a good browser, not fiddle around hunting for what exists. Power users do that, sure, but not regular users."

Reader Tet took issue with the reviewer's assertion that "the address bar is for URLs, not searches."

"I couldn't disagree more. One of the things that kept me with the original Mozilla suite for so long, rather than switching to Firefox was the ability to trigger a search from the address bar. Now that Firefox can do the same (and not waste screen real estate with an unnecessary extra box), I've switched. What do you possibly gain by having a separate search box? I just don't get it."

Reader GigsVT explained the appeal that a separate search bar has for him, though:

"If I have a host named "porn" on my network, and I type "porn" into the address bar, I better damn well get the host I want and not some search. We have a host named "pegasus" and I can't tell you how many times I've been to the pegasus mail web site and didn't want to be."

Thanks to all the readersa who took part in this conversation, especially those quoted above.

This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

A Browser War Preview

Comments Filter:
  • by also-rr ( 980579 ) on Thursday July 20, 2006 @03:29PM (#15751949) Homepage that real men browse the internet with telnet to port 80.
    • by also-rr ( 980579 ) on Thursday July 20, 2006 @03:37PM (#15752011) Homepage
      I have just realised that someone is shortly going to be along whining about binary formats and ajax and whatnot.

      This is why we are anticipating shortly the release of TELNET 2.0 for the Web 2.0 generation. It includes such amazing new technology features as:

      Renders Flash into meaningless symbols.
      Decodes Java into meaningless binary.
      Turns javascript powered websites into impossible to understand hex clusters that don't do anything when you click on them.
      Dumps MP3 data to beep()

      In this way we feel that all the key features of Web 2.0 are adequately recreated for an authentic experience as the website creators intend and TELNET 2.0 is a whole new competative browser platform for the 21st century.
      • Renders Flash into meaningless symbols.
        Decodes Java into meaningless binary.
        Turns javascript powered websites into impossible to understand hex clusters that don't do anything when you click on them.
        Dumps MP3 data to beep()

        Neo : Is that...
        Cypher : The Matrix? Yeah.
        Neo : Do you always look at it encoded?
        Cypher : Well, you have to. The image translators work for the construct program. But there's way too much information to decode the Matrix. You get used to it... I don't even see the code. All I se
    • Bull! I just chew on the ethernet cable and interpret the tingling sensation in my fillings.
    • LUXURY! (Score:2, Funny)

      by warith ( 121181 )
      You kids and your fancy Telnet clients.

      In my day, we had to carry the bits by hand to the server and back (betcha didn't know that's where the term 'carry bit' originally came from, didja??), uphill, BOTH WAYS, in 10 feet of snow! And we LIKED it! Packet loss meant you'd been trampled by a horse.
  • IE7 (Score:4, Interesting)

    by joe 155 ( 937621 ) on Thursday July 20, 2006 @03:31PM (#15751958) Journal
    I actaully installed IE7 last night, I'd been impressed with how it sounded but I never boot into windows so I had to make a special effort to get it, it is also the first thing I've installed in ages which wasn't free (in both senses), and I was amazed at the licence terms; it might just be that I'm not used to seeing them but on IE7 it was so restrictive about what you could do and they kept the right to do anything, including (if I remember right) the ability to change the contract without telling you about it. It actually said that you should re-read the agreement regularly because they might change it at any time, needless to say I won't be installing a final version of it.

    As a browser it was ok, nothing really special but not too bad.
    • And Yet... (Score:2, Informative)

      by alamandrax ( 692121 )
      the CSS parsing still sucks. I've been kicking myself from the day I installed beta1 and then beta2. It's not that the browser's bad. The UI is an improvement. Sure, the thumbnail previews are nice. Stacking similar tabs together - very cool (all of these were available in Opera9 by the way - OPERA RULZ! RoXX, etc etc.). It's that they haven't made any changes to the CSS compliance so far. The same errors in IE6 are in IE7. Is that all they did? Change the UI?
      • If I recall correctly, beta1 didn't have any changes to the rendering engine, but betas 2 and 3 do. Eric Meyer linked to a post about IE7 changes []. The IE7 blog has the details of some of the changes [].
        Now, that doesn't mean that they are ALL fixed, but there are just enough to make all the expert webpage creators learn all new hacks to make pages work in IE.
        • Seriously. They corrected box model miscalculations dating back to IE 5.5 and added support for + and > operators. And then they added PNG support.

          There are no CSS properties supported in IE7 beta 2/3 which were not supported in prior versions. I ran them through the entire CSS2 test suite.

          That's it. No corrections to mistakes like text-align:center aligning block elements instead of their child inline elements, and ZERO behavior change between DOCTYPEs. Still absolutely no recognition for the XHTML MIME
  • by sanguisdev ( 918861 ) on Thursday July 20, 2006 @03:31PM (#15751965)
    I still have not found out the 2 things that I want to know about IE 7. Does any one have the answerers?
    1. Will IE 7 handle PNG's with alpaha channel transparency like every body else. As in no Active x controls and proprietary scripting methods in the html. Can I drop my browser detecting code and separate servings of markup or css based on the browser?
    2. The Box Model, is the math 9in IE finally not backwards from every one else, does it now make sense? Will 'Border' not be full scree when I just set them to '30px'?
    3. Oh one thing I am happy about in Fire Fox that is a long time coming for me is the spell check, I wonder how it will work with online WYSIWIG editors?
    Anyone Know?
  • I'm not sure if it was posted yesterday or not, but there is a quick and easy javascript fix for transparent PNGs in IE. []

    I know it isn't perfect, and is a hack, but it is useful for using PNG graphics on sites displated in IE.
  • /. Navel Gazing (Score:3, Insightful)

    by paladinwannabe2 ( 889776 ) on Thursday July 20, 2006 @03:32PM (#15751972)
    I'll admit that like most people here on /., I find that the comments people make are more interesting than the articles themselves. However, do we need the recent proliferation in Slashback articles? Usually the /backs are for discussions that have already been disscussed to death. Someone once described /backs as 'the dupe that isn't a dupe'. I feel that he's right.
    • I always saw the slashbacks as something for followups. Story A has person B doing thing C, then the /back says that person B changed his mind and is no longer doing C, or said he was not doing C in the first place and the whole thing was just a misunderstanding. Or person B says thing C about person D, and person D responds to person B with rebuttal E. Stuff like that, but that wasn't important enough to make the main page.
    • I quite agree. If I wanted to read the article I would - and did - so the dupe without a dupe comparison is apt. This is filler for a slow news day, or perhaps a new policy for /. editors to promote more discussion. But what's to discuss, it's all already been said in the previous thread for the article. Also slashback should only be used for things that are more controversial and have updates and corrections that need appending.
    • You know you can easily turn off any sections you're not interested in seeing, right? That way the many people who are interested can see the follow-up summary while you ignore it. Or you can separately check out some of the best comments at Seen on Slash [] (mostly funny).
    • Someone once described /backs as 'the dupe that isn't a dupe'. I feel that he's right.
      too true... it's more of an "intentional dupe" or a "dupe by design"... why would anyone do such a thing?!
    • I think they do this because it is the comments that people come here for, versus Digg. If the comments are the main reason people come to your site, then it makes sense to focus on them.
  • by bit trollent ( 824666 ) on Thursday July 20, 2006 @03:35PM (#15751987) Homepage
    Am I the only one who doesn't see any need whatsoever for a bit torrent client built in to a web browser? There are a million free bit torrent clients out there that are way better than Opera's. Not only that, but its surprisingly difficult to turn it off. I personally lost intererst and opened the torrent from firefox before I figured it out.

    That said Opera is my favorite web browser by far.
    • I agree, I think it's pretty useless to have BT support in a browser. I use a stand alone client and I think any browser based implementation would just feel clunky, cheap, and short on features.

      The only merit I can see is for people who arn't normally BT users who might want to grab a torrent once in a great while. it would save them from having to seek out, and install a client for just one file.

      At the same time anyone using an alternative browser like Opera probably already has a BT client installe
      • by TheRaven64 ( 641858 ) on Thursday July 20, 2006 @04:41PM (#15752442) Journal
        You know, ten years ago, I remember people saying the same thing about FTP. Who needs an FTP client integrated into their browser? You can get a hundred stand-alone FTP clients. The one in the browser doesn't even handle browsing directories or uploading! And yet, most people just wanted to click on things and have them download.

        Five years ago, people said the same thing about integrated download managers. If you wanted to download more than one or two things at a time, or you wanted support for resuming downlaods, you installed GetRight, or similar. But, it turned out, most people just want to click on things and have them download.

        If you are a heavy BitTorrent user, then the integrated support in Opera may not be for you. If, however, you just want to be able to click on links and have things download, without having to worry about whether they are HTTP, FTP, or BitTorrent, then the Opera BitTorrent client might be the right tool for you.

        • I agree entirely about right tool right job. Just make sure if its the wrong tool I don't have to throw my toolbox away to get to the right one.
        • The problem with You can get a hundred stand-alone FTP clients. The one in the browser doesn't even handle browsing directories or uploading! is that the hundreds of other clients missed one feature that the one in the browser had - pass them a URL and have them download directly (curl and wget need not apply, they're web browsers without a display)

          When I click on a torrent link in Konqueror, it loads KTorrent which is a "standalone" client in some respects, but also is happy to take a URL and start downloa
    • You may not have a need for torrent support, but I'm not really a power torrent user so a simple client has some appeal for my browsing.

      There was a time when browers didnt include any FTP support, but all mainstream browsers include simple FTP support since its easy to include. Since bit torrent is just a protocol, the Opera team found a way to include a simple version for only a few KBs of "bloat".

      Power users will of course need a seperate client, the same way they due with FTP.
    • Am I the only one who doesn't see any need whatsoever for a bit torrent client built in to a web browser?

      For being a unique idea behind decentralized protocols, I can definitely see the use for it.

      That there are dedicated and more feature rich third party clients doesn't really excuse it IMHO, as the same could then be said about FTP, another totally non-web protocol.

      The only complaint I'd see valid here would be bloat, but check Opera's install footprint and come again. ;-)

      With that one out of the way, no,

    • What's not to like? Combined with Opera's terrific download manager, it streamlines one more aspect of working with the Web/Internet. An incremental but noticeably helpful addition. I love it.
  • Turn off backslash (Score:2, Insightful)

    by gatzke ( 2977 )
    Anyone figured out how to turn off these silly backslash articles?

    If I want to read an article, I will read an article. I don't need it summarized so idiots can comment on comments that comment on a some silly web page.

    For that matter, I thought we once were able to selectively choose what topics we want to read on /.. I can't find that in my preferences any more...

    Also, how do I turn off that silly tagging deal? It just clutters the page.

    Finally, could someone help me print out my email? HA.
    • Hit the Sections "Link" At the top of the sections section...after a moment this will load an option window that lets you select to do the "small" view which gives a title only, or no view...there are other options, but I figure these are the ones you want most...

      • Thank you so very much! You are a gentleman and a scholar.

        Leave it up to some CS nerds to make a totally non-intuitive interface. Why would personal preferences not be in your personal preferences section? And what is up with the heiroglifics in the little section window? Did they really think that was comprehensible? Insane.

        Now for bonus points, how do I get rid of tagging? And what the heck is that garbage? Back in my day we had html, and we liked it! vi or emacs was all you needed to make pages w
    • I came in precisely to make the same point - why the sudden glut of slashbacks? They are entirely idiotic, from what I can tell. I saw the article a day or two ago, I read the most highly moderated comments, so what value has a summary of the highly moderated comments got?... apart from engendering a curious feeling of deja vue and dupedom.

      • I hate to say it, but I like them.

        I haven't been reading as much lately and the slashback's are generally put together well.

        So I catch up on an article I missed and get some of the higher rated comments.

        It's slashdot for the lazy! (or very busy)
    • "Anyone figured out how to turn off these silly backslash articles?"

      Yes. When the word 'Slashback' appears, press down-arrow a few times. The 'Reply to this' link won't navigate you into any helpful configuration options.
    • It was actually useful for the editors to go through an article and lift a little signal out of the noise.

      I, for one, feel there should be more of this sort of actual editing going on in slashdotland.

      • Why not just browse at 4+ or 3+? I have been doing that recently and it cuts things down to about 5-15 responses. Or use

        Posting a summary is just a officially sanctioned dupe.

  • FTFS:

    Reader GigsVT explained the appeal that a separate search bar has for him, though: "If I have a host named "porn" on my network, and I type "porn" into the address bar, I better damn well get the host I want and not some search.

    I disagree that you need a seperate search bar.

    1. Just right click on any search field (for example, Google's).
    2. Click "Add a Keyword for this Search".
    3. Name it, then add a keyword "g".
    4. (optional) put it in the Quick Searches bookmarks folder

    Now all you need to type is "g Jessica Alba

  • Right now... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Linkiroth ( 952123 ) on Thursday July 20, 2006 @03:42PM (#15752043)
    ...I'm viewing this with Opera. I have all 3 of the browsers on my computer. Previously, I was a dedicated firefox user. However, I've come to find that Opera uses less than half the RAM of Firefox and that Firefox and IE use about the same amount of RAM as one another when idling on a page (e.g. Google). If your RAM and speed are important to you, go Opera. If your extensions are critical, go Firefox. IE is only worth using if you need to go to an IE only page. To do my own little backlash: Opera is the most efficient. Firefox has the most utilities. IE has the most pages catering to it.
    • To me opera just doesn't look right on any platform, whether Windows or Linux. It doesn't look like a standard application, at least to me. At least IE and Firefox look like they belong on Windows, and Linux (well, firefox, anyway).
    • To address the thread-starter's comment in this /. thread, Opera isn't being ignored by just people in discussions like this. It's ignored by users as well; Opera is remarkably unpopular.

      I'll offer some reasons why I ignore Opera:

      • Opera is proprietary software []. I value my software freedom [], so I'm not willing to lose it by using software that doesn't respect my freedom to run, inspect, share, and modify the program any time I want for any reason I want. I refuse to discuss free and proprietary softwar
      • I have a rather strange reason that took me a while to put my finger on it. I made a concerted effort to give Opera a shot. It had a lot of nice features including passing itself automatically as IE or even using the IE rendering engine on certain pages. It was fast and worked pretty well, but I always felt uncomfortable when I used it. I found myself stumbling again and again when trying to use the tabs, and my productivity was reduced. Then I figured it out... the navigation bar is underneath the tab

    • I have three browsers available in my knoppix remaster. []
      Mozilla Firefox, preconfigured with 8 RSS feeds.
      Flock 0.7.1, no RSS feeds.
      Opera 9.01, 13 RSS feeds.

      Opera boots the fastest, but once the RSS feeds get active, right away, older computers need a minute or two to get them downloaded on dialup, before the browser is responsive again. Best way to do it is to click on a link right away, and let the whole mess download, RSS feeds (with small pictures) and the web page. Also, E-Trade won't work in Oper
  • by Britz ( 170620 ) on Thursday July 20, 2006 @03:54PM (#15752134)
    Face it guys, a lot more "normal" people use the internet now compared to the 90s, when the last browser wars happened. And those people don't know what a browser is. They maybe have heard of the IE, but never of Firefox. They just click on the blue "e" to use the internet. I educate some, you educate some, but the userbase is growing faster than the number of people we can educate. Also Firefox is not faster or does anything better for said user than the IE, because all they do is click on links and take their time to use webmail and read some webpages. The only thing Firefox has going is that it is saver. But the only reason it is saver is because less people use it and malware writers target the largest userbase. Maybe Firefox is saver, but they have zero day exploits none the less. So it wouldn't make much difference IMHO.
  • IE v Firefox (Score:2, Interesting)

    Why does it always seem that Mircrosoft will come out with the same features as everyone else, and then make it look clean pretty wrap it with a windows bow and say "look what we can do now"
    • Why does it always seem that Mircrosoft will come out with the same features as everyone else, and then make it look clean pretty wrap it with a windows bow and say "look what we can do now"

      I like the way IE7 handles tabs and news feeds.

      Zooming test and images with a mouse click sure beats Firefox's default Ctrl + and -.

      IE7 and Windows are mostly about choosing sensible defaults for the non-technical end-user. The fun in Firefox is playing with extensions. But I discovered rather quickly that I was reac

    • Why does it always seem that FireFox will come out with the same features as Opera has had for years, and then make it acceptable to /. with an OSS bow and say "look what we can do now"?

      I love Firefox, but don't pretend it's any more innovative than IE.
  • by Samawi I ( 444697 ) on Thursday July 20, 2006 @04:05PM (#15752204)
    I think Opera has long ago passed the Slashdot threshhold so as to deserve its own category or icon! IE, Netscape, Mozilla, AND FireFox each have one, even though the latter three are all branches of one entity; Is there some deep-seated reason why, despite all the Opera news, there is not even one Opera category?

    • Yeah, Opera is like that girl with a killer body but a really ugly face.
      You'd be more than glad to hit it, but don't wanna talk to your friends about it.
      Come on, you all know the feeling.
    • B/c unfortunately for Opera, they're sort of in a grey middle ground. They're proprietary and not oss, so they get so support from the religious faithful. Conversely, they're not an abusive monopoly, so they get no hate from the religous faithful either. If all publicity is good publicity, Firefox/Mozilla gets all the good, IE gets all the bad, and Opera is stuck in the unnoticed middle. I guess free, market-leading webstandards support and consistently ahead-of-its-time, frequently-copied innovation ju
  • I do searches a whole lot more than I browse to single word domains without any periods in them. Is it that much harder typing in the http://porn/ [porn] on the off chance that you need to browse to a single word domain rather than clog up the top of the screen with yet another bar?
  • until recently as it didn't provide NTLM proxy support (am I saying that right?). I've tried it in a couple environments that used some MS proxy server, and Opera couldn't authenticate. Who's fault is that? Opera 9 *does* support that authentication, but considering it's only a few weeks old, I hardly expect a massive uptake to Opera in the corporate world.

    Opera may support a lot of tech standards, but that was a pretty big business standard they didn't support.
  • I used to care (Score:3, Insightful)

    by jilles ( 20976 ) on Thursday July 20, 2006 @04:15PM (#15752262) Homepage
    I used to care. Now I don't any more. I consider the whole batch of so called standards collectively known as the web pretty primitive and backwards. CSS is a horrible standard not suitable for defining moderately complicated layouts (or even certain trivial ones). It's not the best we've got it's just something put together in a hurry independently from the (surprise!) independently evolving implementations, ten years ago. Attempts to steer browser development through forward defining new revisions of this standards have largely failed. And browser developers after spending most of the last decade interpreting CSS 2 seem to slowly settle on an interpretation of a significant subset of this standard from 1999 (or was it even earlier)?. CSS3 can now safely considered to be as dead as a doornail with browser developers cherry picking the little bitts and pieces that are more or less finalized.

    Acid2 is not about CSS compliance but about supporting the documented ambiguities in the standard correctly (many undocumented ones remain). These ambiguities include weird parser behaviour, browser quirksmode hacks for non standard pages etc. In short, it test the browsers ability to fuck up the rendering in a consistent way. Of course the biggest fuck up of them all (IE) fails the test so the test is pretty much worthless in practice. It even fails rendering incorrectly :-).

    Then there is HTML which evolved from a naive attempt to capture semantics of certain documents by Tim Berners Lee to a slightly worse specification (HTML 4.x) which isn't really good for anything it is designed to do (ranging from layout features to representing document semantics). The successors in the form of XHTML 1.x and 2.x drop the layout stuff (which sucked anyway) and tried to preserve most of the flawed semantics whilst adding new constructs and increasing complexity so much nobody really understands it. Market apathy has ensured that these xhtml standards never moved out of the lab. XHTML documents actually served up as application/xml (alledgedly the correct way to serve them up) are extremely rare although well formed versions of html 4.x are now commonly served up as xhtml 1.0 transitional (or even strict). Other than forcing the browser into a somewhat better defined way of rendering, this has little effect in terms of layout features compared to html 4.x.

    Let me see what else have we got? There's crappy SVG which slowly seems to replace gifs for sclable icons on some systems and also leads a double life as a poor mans graphics exchange format. There's the hopelessly underpowered javascript language and the accompanying APIs (DOM *shudder*). There's MATHML which remains ever popular in very small niches. Most of the mentioned technologies lead a double life in the form of how they are supposed to work and how they actually work in practice. Pragmatic web developers just copy paste and adapt what works and ignore the rest. The smarter ones build up some knowledge of how things are supposed to work and where the bugs are for each implementation. All the graphics designers seem to have standardized on non standard flash. With standards nazis mainly telling them not to use flash, instead of providing an alternative, this is unlikely to change in the forseeable future.

    But as said, I no longer care that much. Increasingly tools take care of generating the exotic hacks to make it all work. Handcoding something like gmail would probably drive programmers mad, which is why the nice google people embedded the difficult stuff in a nice library so they can focus on application functionality.
  • []

    Can anyone here help with this? Yes, it's a bit offtopic, but I can't be the only one with this problem!

  • Interestingly enough, there is no mention of browsers such as Konqueror, Safari, Camino, SeaMonkey... Yes, this is a relevant point, because most of the discussion focuses on attributes such as bookmarks management, style, extensions, and the like, and not on the underlying rendering engine. Camino and SeaMonkey each take different approaches to the user interface but still use the same rendering engine as Firefox. And then we have both Konqueror and Safari, good web browsers that get very little mention

  • Sigh... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by koan ( 80826 )
    Why does everything have to be a "war"? Can't it be a browser competition?
    Let the indoctrination to the culture of war end.
    • Competition is usually good for the competitors. They work harder, and as a result all do better than they would have otherwise. Like in sports. There's a winner and a loser in every competition, but both competitors end up better athletes than they would have been had they never competed.

      But eventually you reach a point in the competition where getting better also hurts the other guys.

      Just like war. It is far more fitting.
  • by edmicman ( 830206 ) on Thursday July 20, 2006 @04:46PM (#15752483) Homepage Journal
    Maybe I'll grab the latest Opera and try it out this weekend, but how is it's page compatibility with the greater web out there when compared to Firefox and IE? I know it's touted as having the "most" standards support, but I tried Opera way back when and it hosed up or just plain wouldn't render correctly a number of sites I went to. Does it work on bank sites? Most popular websites? You can say it's a problem with the web designers, but if everything works on Firefox with the IETab extension, but doesn't render right on Opera, where does the problem lie?
    • I, too, was sceptical of Opera. Regardless, yesterday (based on the browser comparison) I installed Opera. Since then (some 12 hours of browsing later) I am not going back to those pathetic browsing environments known as Firefox (doesn't work with multiple desktops, ever, despite frequent bug complaints) or IE (never saw a standard it couldn't break). Opera does everything I want, and more. The fast forward and fast reverse buttons alone are worth conversion. Okay, part of my enthusiasm stems from bein
    • So I downloaded Opera tonight, and am playing around with it. Very impressive - might have to blog about it and I'll probably play with it a few days at least. One glaring thing though I noticed when coming to Slashdot - where is Firefox's AdBlock extension! The "Block Content..." works on images, but can it do iframes and the other things AdBlock does? Hmmmmmmmm.....
      • User JS to the rescue!

        Hide objects until double click (Flash block) []

        Hides all objects, embeds, applets, and iframes (you can add to this list, or remove from it). Once the page has loaded, you can double click to display them again. The script can optionally display a notification when it blocks something. By default, this notification is shown for 5 seconds.

        Hidden objects are optionally replaced with a placeholder that you can click to show each individual object. This is also keyboard accessible - use

      • ALright, and middle clicking on bookmarks in my toolbar (or the bookmarks for that matter) doesn't just doesn't do anything. I have folders of links on my toolbar that I use, and I can't middle click to open them in a new window. Bah! That isn't supported in Opera?

  • Congratulations to whoever renamed Slashback; the new term makes much more sense, as it can invoke a similar, appropriate word. It is also confusing for those that vaguely recall what to type a few years ago. Even better!

    Plus, what goodies can the millionth Slashdot username expect, a free T-shirt? I seem to recall that the millionth post [] said something appropriate for a lot of the people here.
  • I've succeeded in getting only one friend of mine to use Opera, and thats because I fixed his computer and told him that from now on, he was going to "use a grown-up browser". I remember using Firefox on another friend's computer. I thought to myself, "Wow, this looks and feels just like Internet Explorer, but with a download manager and some room for extensions. Meh, I'll stick with Opera." I'm starting to be able to back up my incredible smugness. And as for people complaining about earlier versions wh
  • by Cheetahfeathers ( 93473 ) on Friday July 21, 2006 @03:15AM (#15754981)
    For me the browser that will win is whichever secure, tabbed browser that adds in an audio toggle. I want to be able to cut off all access to audio devices from the web browser, but still be able to get music from my audio player. I want an end to background music on websites, an end to having to figure out which of the 15 tabs I loaded in the background started playing music when it finished loading, so I can kill that one. I want an end to web annoyances, and that's my biggest one right now. I'm not bothered by blink tags anymore, animated gifs are no more, pop ups are almost gone, and now this remains as my biggest peev about a web browser.
  • Whether it's fair or not I leave as an exercise for the reader, but I think the reason Opera doesn't get the attention or respect of Firefox is that it's closed source, pure and simple. After all, how many years did people put up with early versions of Linux simply because it was open source, rather than using more polished but closed tools?

    I like Opera, and I hope they succeed, but I will never want to rely on them because in the end they are closed source, and if their company should die Opera would die

"This is lemma 1.1. We start a new chapter so the numbers all go back to one." -- Prof. Seager, C&O 351