Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Firefox and sundry browser discourse

It seems that Mike Rouse is back blogging again, and he rightly recommends that you assist Mozilla in their efforts.
Get yourself to the Mozilla site and download the latest version of Firefox. If you are still using Internet Explorer you should ask yourself why you bother accessing the internet. If you’re still one of those mindless folk that still uses IE6 then you should be asking yourself why you even own a computer.

I have to agree with him. Seriously, folks, Internet Explorer in general, and IE6 in particular, makes the lives of web developers really unpleasant because it does not render pages like any other browser. And IE7 renders them differently to IE6 and they both ignore W3C standards on really basic things.

For the geeky designers amongst you, Firefox 3 is a reasonable move forward and does support some CSS3 attributes, such as rounded corners. Just think: rounded corners without having to use images! However, since these attributes are not standardised yet, you need to use some unusual code.

Firefox and Safari users should see a grey box here, with rounded corners (the corners will be slightly jagged in Firefox 2, something that has been fixed in version 3).

Any other browsers (not using Webkit or Gecko to render) will just see the standard square corners, so this code degrades nicely too.

The code for this is as follows:
<div style="background-color:#ccc;
border:1px solid #000;

The -moz is obviously for Mozilla (whose rendering engine also drives browsers such as Camino) and -webkit is for the engine with drives Safari and other browsers—such as Konqueror and Shiira. You can even control each corner independently: here are the details.

Of course, the most advanced browser out there is Webkit—an Open Source project to push the Webkit engine to the very limits. Nightly builds are available for both Windows and Mac and it's a beautiful thing to play with: features that it supports include CSS reflections, CSS masking (even of videos), CSS gradients, CSS animations and transforms, and lots of other really very cool stuff.

Of course, none of these cool things (including the very simple rounded corners) can be implemented easily whilst people still use the fucking gall-stone of the web: Internet Explorer.*

For the love of the god, stop using that piece of shit. Seriously. Then we can actually embrace the web properly and have a happy time.

Oh, and since a huge amount of time is spent hacking code and debugging for Internet Explorer, you might just find that your website design bills actually go down too.

A FANTASY: all the companies who have ever had a website built, go back and ask the designers how much it cost to hack and debug for IE. And then they all get together and sue Microsoft for that money...

* Or until IE becomes standards compliant. Hahahahaha! It'll never happen. And no, IE8 is not looking as though it'll be properly standards compliant.


Budgie said...

Firefox3 needs Win2000 minimum. It won't install with old DOS systems (ME), I've just tried.

My Firefox2 does show the grey box with rounded corners as you say. Rounding looks good to me.

Alexis said...

better with 3 though - just changed

browser boy said...

'If you’re still one of those mindless folk that still uses IE6 then you should be asking yourself why you even own a computer.'

What surprises me even more, is the vast use of IE6 amongst companies throughout the UK. In particular its use for mission critical applications such as monitoring and queueing systems and more recently the infamous Java app (soo slow)... I'm fairly certain that on the whole the lack of security is protected by linux servers and hardware firewalls... But this will never make up for its ability to try and rush data unevenly and grind everyone else to halt... Truly shite browser

Devil's Kitchen said...

"What surprises me even more, is the vast use of IE6 amongst companies throughout the UK."

This is, alas, because many intranets were built to take advantage of some of IE's security features. And when an intranet can cost many tens of thousands to update, companies tend to avoid doing so.

It's a short-sighted strategy (apart from anything else, many of them will break DDA compliance) but one can understand the reluctance.

BTW, for any corporate types out there, the company I work for builds intranets too...


ade said...

I've tried Firefox a few times, and found it to be unmitigated shite. Slow, buggy as hell, seriously heavy on memory, clunky interface, the list goes on.

IE is just as bad. No, worse. Far, far far worse. IE is a pestilence.

So, I went for Opera. Even when it cost money. And it's bloomin' brilliant. 9.5 is, unlike most upgrades, a pleasure to use too...

Seriously, try it.

Mind you, it doesn't do those fancy rounded corners. Perhaps, because they're not a W3C standard?

FlipC said...

Ade I've just downgraded Opera from 9.5 back to 9.27 it was slower to start, didn't locate either my profile or old mail, failed to import them correctly when manually directed, refused to thread or store incoming mail correctly and was scarily slow at searching mail; oh and caused several lock-ups.

I also note with some amusement that the top rated downloaded skin returns the 9.5 theme back to its previous incarnation.

Anonymous said...

I'd love to use firefox but when I installed it on my pc (XP) at home a load of websites stopped loading.

Tried to resolve issue with tech support from isp (tiscali) but no luck.

Had to go back to IE :(

any thoughts?

Old Holborn - bitter and twisted said...

The resolution on Firefox (just trying it) is utter shite.

With IE text is crisp, with Firefox it looks like a badly printed menu for a Wolverhampton Balti House using a worn out inkjet cartridge.

Is there a setting in FF that improves the quality?

Shug Niggurath said...

anonymous, if websites use a lot of offsite links (ie. image servers and adservices like doubleclick and those fuckign god-awful weather style plugins) FireFox can have a tendency to go to sleep on the job.

Generally though it's all I use on either my Mac or PC's workwise or home. In fact my company has a group wide software policy that allows only Firefox and Thunderbird to be used.

That was until someone decided to implement a particular fucking ad-service which insists on the user interface only working on IE (Active X controls dont'cha know).

Alas though, my demographics for the websites I administer are older than web averages and so we have a 75%+ userbase on IE so I need to spend hours fucking about with pages to have them render as I need them to.

For the record we average 175,000 unique users viewing 1,250,000 pages!!!

Anonymous said...

Such beautiful curves...

MatGB said...

I get so used to the rounded corners in my personal site layouts that I get all surprised if forced into IE or checking in Opera when they're not there, and yes, now you mention it, they do look nicer now.

But norty Devil used inline styles to define a background colour but not a foreground colour—those of use preferring white on dark find that harder donchaknow...

Ade: Opera is a damn fine piece of kit, and comparing vanilla installs I think it's better in many ways, but I always was a Netscape fan, and the huge variety of plugins and extensions Fx has are what really make it for me.

You're right, rounded boraders aren't 'standard' yet, as only CSS2 is adopted as formal standard—the CSS3 specs have been released for years though, but until IE has caught up with CSS2 I doubt we'll ever see them, which is a damn shame as there are some lovely tricks in there. Opera prides itself on conforming to the current standards better than anything, I suspect as soon as IE has caught up they'll be betaing CSS3 compliance

Anonymous said...

I really can't understand why all these mongoloids, retardeds and assorted mental deficients can't get Firefox to work.

If it doesn't work when you run it, You're Doing It Wrong, you worthless fuckwits.

Devil's Kitchen said...

Old Holborn,

"The resolution on Firefox (just trying it) is utter shite.

With IE text is crisp, with Firefox it looks like a badly printed menu for a Wolverhampton Balti House using a worn out inkjet cartridge."

You say "crisp" and I say "jagged and ugly".

This is not a resolution issue, but a font rendering issue. Windows renders fonts to a set grid and therefore type looks "crisp" (or jagged and ugly) and Windows will distort the shape of fonts to make them fit this grid.

This does not happen on Macs, which use anti-aliasing (smoothing) to preserve the shape of the glyphs.

I know that Safari on Windows uses anti-aliasing, so I assume that FF3 has adopted this too.

In my opinion, once you get used to it, anti-aliasing is much nicer and easier on the eyes but I am aware that not everyone shares this view.

As a designer, of course, I deplore the type grid rendering for its ugliness and distortion of carefully crafted typefaces (just another reason why Macs are more popular amongst designers).


ade said...

DK - I thought macs were more popular as, back in ye olde 1980s, the Mac existed wheras the PC didn't... and desktop publishing was born on the Mac?

Inertia did the rest...

MatGB said...

Ade, nah, that may've been part of the initial appeal, but those initial Macs have been replaced several times over since then.

Macs are expensive, businesses don't buy expensive stuff if there's a cheaper equivalent that'll do the job. I use a PC, I am not a designer, I manage content for people and occasionally pay designers. Many of the designers use Macs, and having seen them in use, I can see why. In my old job, the guy that did our adverts bought his personal Mac in to do them on—for his general office work, a PC was better, but for visual design (and that boy was good) a Mac just stomped all over it.

They're bloody expensive, and more suited to certain tasks, but for what they're good for, Macs have a niche.

My brief spell in IT marketing taught me a lot about this sort of thing, and a lot of companies would use PCs for general stuff but pay for top whack Macs for certain creative teams.

Devil's Kitchen said...

Waht MatGB said but with the following additions:

1) Windows PCs did exist when DTP took off. However, DTP was born on the Mac because of certain features and the Mac still has these advantages over Windows, e.g.

a) native Postscript support throughout the system. Postscript is the system that laserprinters and imagesetters (big laser printers that professional printers use to produce film or, these days, direct to plate).

As such, you didn't need to put in a Postscript emulation programme or bridge, both very expensive. Plus, you could preview more reliably.

b) Easy font control and installation, but with immensely shophisticated typeface rendering.

2) For similarly speched machines, Apple Macs are actually no more expensive than their Windows counterparts.

However, Apple do not do cheapo, cheapo machines (which is, let's face it, all that many people need) and so, since most people in business do not need powerful machines, they tend to buy WinTel.

In other words, Apples are not expensive compared to other machines (although they were in the mid-90s but prices have dropped significantly since then (although so has the quality of components, i.e. no more SCSI)) but you cannot buy a cheap Apple (the Mac Mini, at about £450, is the closest you'll get).


ade said...

Whoops, my bad - of course the PC existed. [slaps self]

However, the Mac definitely beat Windows - Win1.0 wasn't released until late '85, and Win2.0 (the first sensible version of Windows) in late '87 - by which time, Apple had well cornered the DTP market - and I'm sure the reasons you cite are amongst predominant factors.

nbc said...

With regards to font rendering, if you are using XP on a system with a flat screen try the Cleartype Tuner from Microsoft. It may help.

Ian B said...

Well, its interesting how many libertarians are in favour of private companies being expected to adhere to the "standards" decided by an unaccountable bureaucracy (the w3c). So much for different companies all offering different things and the best product wins market share.

Most ordinary people use IE (I don't, I use Opera as it goes). The most high profile alternative is a not-profit (unless you work for Mozilla Corp, then you're rolling in dosh) quasi-communist product whose primary marketing is anti-free market (use our product not because it's good but because it's not Evil Microsoft). And then, as I said, everyone's supposed to want to do what Tim and his crowd of crats want them to do. "Don't use Table Tags, because Tim says so".

You'll all be laughing out of the other side of your faces when the UN finally gets its greasy paws on the WWW (Obama may well do this) and the w3c get their dream fulfilled and are made the official tranzi quango rulers of the internets. Then Timbo can force us all to adhere to his semantic web fantasy (t'won't work by the way, like most lefties he's fallaciously convinced that sufficient metadata comprises intelligence).

It ain't Microsoft who are the enemy. Nobody will realise until it's too late. Expect, in some near future, for the costs of statutory UNW3C compliance to knock all but well-financed websites that can afford them off the web. That's how The Enemy works, you know.

Ian B said...

Having just read that thing what I wrote above, I think by jove I might have hit on something, so I might as well say it again. Timbo's belief in the Semantic Web precisely characterises the fallacy of the technocratic left (i.e. the people we're up against).


They believe that by collecting social metadata, they can develop understanding of society. The metadata will itself gradually construct an intelligence. That ultimately sufficent data (i.e. the "database state") will itself become an intelligence; more than a model, an actual description of reality which contains understanding. Just as Timbo (a progressive) thinks that sufficient metadata (Semantic Web) will itself become a layer of intelligence which understands the web.

I'm not putting this very well, because I'm not good with words, state education and all, you know. But there's got to be a useful anti-proggie argument in there somewhere. Or not.

Old Holborn - bitter and twisted said...

Tried the Cleartype tuner and it's still shite and blurred.

Mind you, I have a top of the range Sony Viao laptop set at 1900 x 1200.

Also, bookmarks are two clicks away, whereas on IE, it's one.

I'm a lazy cunt, so shit like that matters to me. My life is busy. Christ, it's hard enough actually bothering to wake up in the morning as opposed to simply dieing (which is a piece of piss apparently, even downs syndrome mongs manage it with their eyes closed. Even my mum managed it and she couldn't boil an egg), the last thing I need is weedy fonts, fraggled text and some dweeb telling me I'm unhip.

wonkotsane said...

Don't forget Flock DK. I'm trying the first beta of Flock 2 which is built on Firefox 3. I've tried FF3 and Flock 2 and despite Flock 2 being FF3 with bucket loads of features shoe-horned into it, Flock 2 is faster for me than FF3.

MatGB said...

Ian, interesting perspective. I thought one of the basics of libertarianism was a belief in competition, and thus in favour of anti-monopoly practices.

"primary marketing is anti-free market (use our product not because it's good but because it's not Evil Microsoft"

Strange, I've seen more of the "it's good" marketing, but being opposed to a monopoly provider that's been shown to use it's position to leverage the market in its favour is hardly anti-market.

One of the principle reasons to support Fx for me has been I preferred Netscape back in the day and the developeent of Fx has made IE better.

I'll leave aside your strange belief that different systems of ownership don't fit within a libertarian market system as that's another debate.

Holborn: "bookmarks are two clicks away, whereas on IE, it's one"

What? In Fx, bookmarks can be on your toolbar and thus zero clicks away if you want the to be, in IE you get that drop down menu to the left, but in Fx I can have as many drop down enues on my toolbar as I want, or just turn the feature off.

I've not noticed a font rendering problem, and use both IE and Fx for work (crappy intranet requires M$ proprietary code).

But, y'know, if you don't like it, that's fine, that's why markets and competition are good—I like Opera, I prefer Fx and IE7 is passably OK—the previous versions were terrible though. But that's my preference. That we disagree is good, last thing any of us want is another monopoly browser.

ade said...

Well, its interesting how many libertarians are in favour of private companies being expected to adhere to the "standards" decided by an unaccountable bureaucracy (the w3c).

Methinks you miss the point, slightly: Whilst the w3c comes up with standards, etc., there's absolultely no law which requires anyone to adhere to them. I could write a browser tomorrow that required all html-like tags to be enclosed in square brackets; and no-one could (legally) stop me. [Of course, the chances of it ever catching on are fairly miniscule...] Similarly, I could unilaterally decide that north is south and east is north-north-west; no-one else would be required to follow me & I'd be the one who ended up lost.

Just because one is a libertarian doesn't preclude one from recognising, and desiring adherance to, standards. It may well preclude one from enforcing those standards on people against their will...

Ian B said...

Microsoft aren't a monopoly. They're the dominant supplier of OS's and browsers for PCs, but that's not the same thing.

All kinds of systems of ownership fit into a libertarian market system. I was just saying it's gobsmackingly funny that Mozilla have figured out how to get rich by manipulating the believers in a socialist anti-market mindset. Kudos to them for that, if nothing else. As governments keep showing, people can be induced into any sacrifice if you can give them a big enough notional enemy to be scared of.

But my main point was the strange adulation of the w3c, who are just the same kind of crats libertarians normally deride.

Devil's Kitchen said...

Ian B,

I don't worship W3C but, as a designer, it would be nice if browsers adhered to minimum standards (IE's hasLayout bugs complicate things considerably and they break basic layout).

W3C are less than impressive: the idea that they are projecting fifteen fucking years until CSS3 is standardised is ludicrous.

That is why, although I support minimum standards (to make my life easier and, frankly, more exciting. I mean, do you know how much effort has to go into making a box with rounded corners that is also compliant with DDA? And what you have to go through to make IE see it too?), I also support people like the Webkit team who are pushing the browser capabilities way, way beyond what the W3C are coming up with.


Ian B said...


Minimum standards is all very well, but I'm the lone voice on the intarwebs here trying to raise a level of scepticism about the w3c. I know there's this thing that we should follow Tim's advice because he invented the www, but that doesn't mean he should be in charge of the thing any more than John Logi Baird should have been on some kind of world televisor committee.

What we do get with the w3c is your standard government by committee bollocks. Grand social engineering plans and schemes (Semantic Web, XML), things that nobody actually wanted (MathML, SVG) and so on, all at a glacial pace. They keep wanting to kill of HTML apparently because it's easy and anyone can write it and it degrades gracefully. It must be too democratic. You think the web would've taken off if we'd all had to write XML, ECMAscript and CSS just to say "hello world?"

The w3c is all the classic problems of bureaucracy and rule by committee. Look at CSS. We moan about the rendering bugs, but I pity the poor bastards having to code the thing. If not for the w3c, somebody else might have come up with an actual page design language/system/whatever instead of something that started off as a way to make your <h1/> big and purple, extended far beyond that, and with grudging additions of floats and positioning because the w3c don't really like the idea of page design and are still stuck with the webpage-as-academic-document paradigm.

This whole adherence to the idea that the w3c need to invent the web just means other people aren't (although WHATWG gawd bless 'em are at least having a go). Libertarians are supposed to believe in market solutions; different people bring different ideas to the marketplace and the consumers decide. Not "let's form a committee and maybe by 2020 we'll have a one-size-fits-all solution".

Remember IE's page transitions? Nobody uses them because they're bollocks. But Netscape's <img> tag was a good idea, so that stayed. That's how products evolve. Not waiting for a fucking committee to tell everyone what they should do.

Devil's Kitchen said...

Yes, Ian, as I said, I know all of that.

All I am saying is that I would like browsers to adhere to some minimum standards. They don't have to be W3C.

Ah, fuck it, I could write more but I would simply be repeating the comment that I wrote above.


I can't make it any clearer than that. You can moan about the W3C but I am a web designer and I am fed to the back teeth spending half of my time hacking my code about -- and not being able to do cool things with CSS -- simply because some arsehole at MS (or wherever) decided that if a float div didn't have a width, it wouldn't show.

I don't really care if the browser companies all got together and said, "let's make x render as y" as long as it fucking well does so.

There is nothing unlibertarian about the current system in the slightest.

I think that IE is a horrible browser. I am therefore urging people to move to what I consider to be a better browser.

I am doing this because it will make my life easier and thus their websites cheaper.

The W3C is shit but it doesn't force browsers to do x; it can only recommend.

And, as I said, some browsers are going beyond W3C and will patently have CSS3 enabled and codified before W3C does.

Good: competition makes better products.

That doesn't alter the fact that I have to hack the shit out of my nice clean code in order to make some cunting browsers render a page even vaguely coherently.

I advocate certain standards because they are coherent: IE's bugs are not.


Chalcedon said...

I've been using Firefix ever since it was launched and upgraded to #3 on 17th June. It's very good and still has far fewer backdoors than IE

Chalcedon said...

That would be Firefox of course. Can we have an edit functon please?