Web Standards

Last Edited – January 20, 2010 by Randall Crock
Filed under: Graphic Design, Personal, Technology

Putting together a web site can be quite challenging, especially when you are trying to make everything work in as many browsers as you can think of. People are constantly complaining about Internet Explorer not supporting Cascading Style Sheets (CSS) properly, and I can’t understand why Microsoft doesn’t just develop the standards-based browser they keep claiming they have. Now, I used to be a real die-hard IE person; I loved the way bookmarks were handled, I didn’t really use any extensions, and I had no problems developing since I just ignored CSS and a lot of the other W3C standards in use now.

So long as you only use the simple style elements and keep everything in tables, IE is easy to work with, and renders everything the same way. As soon as you try to float things, or want to dynamically change the background of a cell, it starts doing weird things, and the really odd thing is that it does different things every time, and does different things on different computers. The biggest problem is getting IE to repeat the problem enough to fix it.

I did all the development for my site in Google Chrome, which I have moved to since it is is more stable than when it was first released, and everything just works perfectly with it. I didn’t even think about how Firefox or IE would handle it until the end, and as usual, IE had some problems rendering the tabs. Interestingly, Firefox also had some problems with the tabs, but a couple fixes in my CSS and it worked beautifully. IE however, was not as pleasant and I ended up having to make a unique stylesheet for it, which was made possible by Microsoft who added a neat feature called Dynamic Comments, where you can do some checking in comments and change the HTML depending on what conditions you set.

To summarize my rant better, Microsoft needs to get on the ball with the W3C standards, and move farther toward passing the Acid3 test. Even Firefox doesn’t get 100 percent, but IE9 (which is still in beta) is still only running in the low 30 percent range. For claiming to be a “standards based browser” IE is way behind the times as far as standards go. Is there a valid reason, or does holding 70% of the market share mean they can just sit back and let other people do more work to make their websites work with everyone?

Getting a little off topic, but in the same vein, I don’t understand why the EU is requiring Microsoft to stop packaging IE with copies of Windows sold in Europe, but not requiring Apple to stop selling Mac OS without Safari. Their basic argument is that Microsoft doesn’t give you to option of using another browser from the beginning, but to be honest, why should they? It’s called good business practice. It isn’t like you can’t get to Mozilla.org and download Firefox and start using that. If the EU is telling Microsoft that they cannot package their products, they should be doing the same to everyone else to make the playing field more fair.

Anyway, I just like ranting about this stuff, though it may have no impact whatsoever on anything.

Acid3 Test – The newest test for W3C compliance in browsers.
W3C on Wikipedia – The organization responsible for web standards

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