Browser optimize

Why I'm not looking forward to Safari's success on Windows


I have written my fair share of browser reviews -- it used to be part of my job when I was an editor for CNET. But, these days, I view a Web browser as just a platform, a way to deliver the Web applications that I build.

This is why I'm not a big fan of Apple's new Safari browser for Windows. Don't get me wrong, I think it's a great move for Apple. It will increase the company's mind share in the Windows world beyond just the iPod and iTunes. And it's great that it passes the Acid Test for CSS rendering, something that neither IE7 nor Firefox 2 are able to handle.

But if a Web browser is just a platform, then what really matters to a developer is the stability of that platform. A new browser brings with it new challenges and new incompatibilities, which is the antithesis of a nice, stable platform on which to build applications.

Instead of spending time innovating and moving our Web applications forward, we now have to go back and re-test everything against Safari on Windows. We have to re-verify that our JavaScript code still works, that our CSS still renders properly, yada yada yada. And as Safari creeps forward from beta to release, you have to repeat that process for each new release.

Meanwhile, it's not like IE and Firefox will stand still -- they will probably have new releases, either because of previously-planned releases or new features added in direct response to Safari. This means another round of testing and re-verification of code.

Now I know that we're moving to a world where most of what happens on the Web happens on frameworks like Prototype and Google Web Toolkit. In theory, all you have to do as a developer is code to those frameworks and let the framework developers worry about testing and re-verifying on a new browser like Safari for Windows.

But let's be real, the framework developers cannot guarantee that every nook and cranny of their code will work the same on all of these different rendering platforms. You will still have to test and re-verify your own app if you really intend to support Safari for Windows. You can't just leave it up to the framework developers.

Besides, you probably have some things you did in your own code that was outside the scope of the frameworks -- some CSS or JavaScript that's unique to you, which you will definitely have to re-verify for Safari. If Safari does grab reasonable market share, then your testing matrix has gone from two primary browsers (IE and Firefox) up to three. This is a fifty percent increase in the number of tests you have to run.

I don't want to sound like a Luddite -- I do think competition and innovation in the software world is a good thing. It's just such a headache personally to have to deal with yet another platform. I guess I'm getting too old to deal with a new round of the browser wars.

46 comments
kvo
kvo

You mentioned the problems with compatibility testing. HTML has been created with the goal to provide information from any point of the globe, viewed via ANY browser. So, main problem is "How well each browser follows to standards?" Existing of sites with "Optimized for IE" should be punished (best os to view site via your eyes ...) If Safari follows to stardards well enough, why should you worry?

hanskrueger
hanskrueger

bitch bitch bitch what's the problem it's a windows world if it dosen't work use IE thats why I use linux no problem wine ass

catseverywhere
catseverywhere

I agree with the last post. I have used Linux exclusively for going on 9 years now. I was interested to see Apple targeting all the other competition in this platform war EXCEPT Microsoft. They explicitly commented they are not looking to effect any of Microsoft's market share. But Safari is cool. I was also interested to see they lifted the rendering engine from KDE, using khtml rather than mozilla's gecko. Sure competition is good. It'd be nice if there actually were any out there. ;) cat

bojan
bojan

Since Apple II, back in 1976, I've not used an Apple, but isn't it what you do to write about these products? So why are you complaining? Competition, and more product to use can be only good!!

jackie40d
jackie40d

If the people whom make the site can do CSS correctly it comes out right . . And if your dumb enough to use IE for any thing . . Go ahead be my guest . . [b]ALL of the sites which are WRITTEN CORRECTLY in CSS come out right in Safari and FireFox ! [/b] Its the ones which do not seem to be able to figure out where things go on the screen you can't put two thing in the same spot with out one being on top ! There is a good example of a site like that over on a motorcycle group it has part of the page done correctly and part of it messed up . . All IE does is move it over as it does not want things parked on top of other things . . In CSS you tell it where on the page it goes and some people just do not seem to be able to get that part in their tiny mind and the put something 3 lines down on top of the item 3 lines before DAH ! it like drilling the same hole twice . . I wrote CNC programs for machine shops and I would have gotten fired for doing that drilling same hole 3 or 4 times . . So your IE is still a piece of SHE - - it !

meron_bisrat
meron_bisrat

Hi, I have developed a website that has its body color to be black. This works perfectly on Firefox,Netscape and IE6 but IE7 creates a purple text instead of black. This actually changes when resolution is changed on computer to a higher resolution and/or the "Always use clear type for HTML" option on the browser. Does anyone know how to set the body text color to black no matter what the setting???

kghia74
kghia74

Currently writing CSS correctly means writing CSS that tailors to the quirks of IE, the quirks of firefox and just about any browser, the acid2 test is used to assess the ability of a browser to both comply with standards setup by w3c and to handle imperfect CSS, viewing the acid2 test in IE is a nightmare, Firefox fails miserably as well, safari doesn't quite pass with flying colors but its much better. But to say that you write css correctly and it works is entirely untrue, sure there is a correct way to write css, is that the Microsoft way with 70 percent of the browser market? or is that the w3c way?

jackie40d
jackie40d

Thats why a lot of ahum web masters can't tell if their site is any good they make it so it looks good in IE and the rest can go to . . I use an OLD version of Netscape ( version 4.9 ) so ANY one can see the site ! And to add special code I use an even older Arachnophilia . . Some pages I do are in CSS but I run a check on it to see if its right with every change ! I use 3 different Browsers to check it with then I add it to the web . . NONE of the 3 are IE . . ;-)

Ronin701
Ronin701

I just tried the acid2 test with Safari, Opera, IE7 and Firefox, all latest versions. IE7 is laughable, Firefox was horrendous, Opera and Safari passed................. Arghhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh............

jtmcmahonjr
jtmcmahonjr

oh my, you mean IT people will have to do some testing? News flash! Things change! Adapt or flip burgers...it's job security folks, we test, we approve, we all improve.

dukker
dukker

Rex, While I have empthy to you this is what keeps you in a job. The IT World will not stand still, sometimes not even long enough to touch it before a solid turns into sand. I've been in this business for about 30 years and I have had to "Re-Wire" my work, my prespectives, my thoughts so much that I say, Accept it. Safari is a good browser and I am "Not" a Apple Person. My typical line has been "I don't do Fruit!" I just wrote a review on Safari www.enewspf.com/index.php? option=com_content&task=view&id=880&Itemid=1&ed=38 A freind of mine who shares some of your same feelings looked on the bright side. Scott commented at least now I can do some Safari programming without having to buy a Mac. Just like the iPhone the end user are the people we have to support, satisify and recieve payment from. For the user it will be a good solution. Hey if Burger King offered a Whopper on a Bagel, " Have it your way " ! If the world puts Safari on Windows, Rex you will always have a job! Thanks P.C. Smith dukker@netzero.net

kghia74
kghia74

Safari is fast but the beta i'm trying out does not entirely pass the acid2 test, close but not quite (scrolling destroys the image), I won't even touch IE just simply for how slow it is, firefox is better, still not super quick. I can't wait for safari because its fast, I'm tired of bloated and slow browsers.

RexWorld
RexWorld

Ah, thanks for the update on the Acid2 test. I did not try the scrolling to see what it would do. Apparently neither did Apple's QA department :-)

vmaatta
vmaatta

I'd say the basis of this article is quite lost to me. Safari is NOT new. Yes, Safari for Windows is new. But as a browser it's not at all new. And as a browser it's had prolly something like 3-4% of net users until now anyway (I have no data at all about this.. just a gut feeling). On the Mac.So it's quite close minded (Windows only writer) to think that Safari is a new platform to test against. There's been lots of other browsers besides IE and Firefox for a long time. And no.. no one can seriously test against all of them (many of them use Mozilla core just like Safari anyway). But you did point out one thing about Safari worth noting: "it passes the Acid Test for CSS rendering, something that neither IE7 nor Firefox 2 are able to handleSo I'd say as a response to "another platform to test against" (tho testing is not bad at all). Code using standards.

abelsp
abelsp

Of course, this wouldn't be an issue at all if broswer manufactures supported standards and stopped inserting proprietary "goodies" in their products. It's no wonder programmers complain about having to do this "extra" work. However, they're often part of the problem as well, creating solutions that only work in IE, for example. So, if you really want to avoid this situation, start creating solutions that work in all browsers from the start.

jeff
jeff

Safari complies with the W3C Acid Test, where's the problem? Let me guess ... IE7 does not come close to passing the Acid test and that's why Web Developers need to spends hours and hours making their code IE7 friendly. This is precisely why you should be looking forward to Safari's success of Windows.

davidtristan
davidtristan

Standards means XHTML/CSS. The Acid2 test web page is very bad bad html code. The Acid2 home page is xhtml/css and IE renders it perfectly. So what if IE does not render the Acid test page correctly. I would never expect code written that bad to work correctly in any browser. Why encourage bad coding practice? Pages written that bad should crash and burn! By the way, how many people here use a html table to frame their web pages? That is not 'standards' practice.

Roho
Roho

The Acid2 test is maybe a real weird piece of code and not something you would use in real life. However it is test for the correct rendering of xhtml and css. Just like any exam you have done or will ever do it is a test to see if you know how things should be done. Later in practice you will find that you have to put into action the things you have learned. Likewise the Acid2 test is the exam for a browser. Passing that means a zeal of approval showing that the browser knows the rules of the game. When you do not know the rules you shouldn't play. But well, that doesn't work in the browser world, most web users use a browser that does not know all the rules. In most cases not a problem, but we (as web builders) have to provide work arounds and fixes for this badly informed browsers. Too bad. Passing the Acid2 test makes life easier for us developers in the sense that we can trust the browser to render correctly if we code it correctly. The badly informed browsers add another degree of freedom to the equation. Personally I would welcome any browser that passes the Acid2 test. It's a big bonus for everyone.

cwkoller2
cwkoller2

Complexity vs Standards - Reward standards-based providers. The ongoing paradox (up to this point) is that the more complex Microsoft made its solutions, the more entrenched we became, as well as fearful of using anything else. "Embrace and extend" has caused MS to take html, Java and other standards-based technologies and "add" functionality that causes problems on most other browsers except MSIE. And yet we reward them because they're the big dog. Or maybe its the Stockholm Syndrome... If Big Oil had to make different gasolines for every different brand of car, they wouldn't stand for it. And the developer community should demand adherence to standards that allow easy deployment on different browsers and platforms. To be fearful of a new entrant is a sign that something is terribly wrong.

nanobot
nanobot

Two primary browsers? You should have been developing for at least four graphical browsers already: IE, Firefox, Opera, and Safari. And if you're coding to standards, Firefox, Opera, and Safari usually work first-go (Safari 2 had a number of annoying bugs, but Safari 3 seems to have fixed every major one I've come across). In the long run, I think Safari entering the Windows market will make the job easier for us web developers. It means yet another option that is more standards-compliant than IE. It means the IE developers will have to stay on their toes and keep improving their browser. IE still has five years of lost development time to catch up on, and anything that motivates them to do so is a good thing in my book. Plus, Safari already had about 5% usage share before the Windows version was made, so it was already important to test your pages in it. Now that it's available on Windows, you don't have to buy a Mac just for Safari testing. I hope Apple ends up releasing a Linux version so I can do all of my major testing on a single platform.

wayne.smallman
wayne.smallman

If we assume that Safari for Windows will be much closer to the standards than the other guys, then surely anything you would have developed that didn't work on Safari wasn't developed correctly in the first place? Isn't this an issue of best practice and not a browser issue? I hear what you're saying about new features, bugs et cetera, but I always point people to the stuff I do that works in Firefox straight out of the IDE and struggles under Internet Explorer, and typically Safari for the Mac in terms of UI. I, as a web developer, cannot be held accountable for the shortcomings of Microsoft and their political machinations impacting their own in-house development teams. But I am entirely accountable for not observing best practice...

RexWorld
RexWorld

I see your point about best practice vs. browser issues. But ultimately you can't ignore market share. Yes IE's buggy but we all code to it since it owns the lion's share of the market. Then the question becomes do we support the other browsers? Right now I'd say yes to Firefox, because it is a decent second-place to IE. Then if Safari gains traction and market share you have to consider supporting it as well. No amount of best practice is going to support all three equally well, given their respective quirks and bugs. I agree with you that we shouldn't be held responsible for those bugs and quirks because it isn't our fault. But we have to deal with them anyway because that's the market reality we face.

Neon Samurai
Neon Samurai

If you code to standards instead of each browsers personality traits then it becomes the browser developers responsability to make there software work with the standard instead of the webdevelopers responsability to pick favourits and jump through browser specific hoops. By picking the market share fravourit, your only supporting and purpetuating the "extended features" that give you grief in the first place.

vmaatta
vmaatta

Now why would those contradict. If you do code using standard code it works just as well in IE than the others. That's the idea about best practices. If standard (as in W3C i.e.) doesn't work properly in IE then it's Microsoft's place to fix the damn browser. It's not always good to blindly follow the big corporation that doesn't give a rat's arse about standards.

nanobot
nanobot

"No amount of best practice is going to support all three equally well, given their respective quirks and bugs." If you follow best practices, Firefox, Opera, and Safari are *usually* supported equally well right out of the box. The exception is if you're using advanced CSS features that IE doesn't support anyway, or if you're using certain scripting features that Safari doesn't support correctly (I haven't tested Safari 3's scripting engine much yet, but Safari 2's was really buggy in certain places). As time goes on, there becomes less and less of a difference in webpage rendering among Firefox, Opera, and Safari, and they've been improving rapidly the last couple of years. Internet Explorer still has a long way to go before it's on par with the other browsers. Its CSS, scripting, and even HTML support are still abysmal compared to the other browsers. Luckily it has conditional comments to work around the bugs, and IE 8 and onward will have a new kind of quirks mode system so that any page written to work in IE 7's standards mode will automatically be displayed the same in all future versions (there will be some special opt-in mechanism for future rendering behavior).

RexWorld
RexWorld

Am I just being too much of a curmudgeon about Safari on Windows? Maybe I am only seeing the glass half-empty--what are some of the positives that will come out of Apple's inevitable success with Safari?

squirrelonfire
squirrelonfire

Well I work at IBM and we require to use IBM for browsing the internet. Firefox will not work on some pages. WHen I downloaded Safari, Safari uses the IE engine so all the IBM websites work . Yet it runs so much faster than firefox, which also means it runs way faster than IE. - Moreover, it's very beautiful. In addition, the search feature is INTELLIGENT, it actually dims out the screen and highlight the search keyword for you on the page, now that's technology. - I wonder why IE and Firefox haven't thought of that yet.

Roho
Roho

Let me say that again: Safari does not have a pimped IE engine! There is no way you can pimp up an IE engine to be as good as the Safari rendering engine. And on top of that the old question: who's to blame for sites not working in a browser? Let me give a hint: it is usually the site creator for straying too far from the standards based path.

jeffusa
jeffusa

I downloaded it after reading apple's claim that it was faster. My use shows that it is actually a lot slower than IE7 and Firefox.

jackie40d
jackie40d

Do you have the needed video ram and on board ram for running it think it was 512 megs of video ram and at least a gig of ram on board forgot what CPU speed was needed ! Mine is about even in speed but I do not have IE either to check it against just FireFox and I am using broadband to run the web with . .

Ronin701
Ronin701

Safari on windows is not the problem, the problem is bully boy Microsofts refusal to make their browser standards compliant. If your site is coded properly and standards compliant, it displays properly in Firefox, Opera, Netscape and lo and behold Safari, but then you have to check it in IE, the short bus browser, and have to do all kinds of superfluous work arounds and stupid IE tricks to get it displayed properly. I strongly believe that this problem with MS's browser and their continual refusal to get in line with the rest of the development community is hindering creative and technical development, slowing down progress and make it much more difficult to move twords a richer more vibrant communication medium.

rhisiart22
rhisiart22

Sounds like it is time for you to go flip patties at Mickey D's instead of griping about your job.

CodeBubba
CodeBubba

>> I guess I?m getting too old to deal with a new round of the browser wars. Am I just being too much of a curmudgeon about Safari on Windows? Maybe I am only seeing the glass half-empty--what are some of the positives that will come out of Apple's inevitable success with Safari?

Neon Samurai
Neon Samurai

Force your viewers to do it your way and your way only. Restrict your viewers choices and make it as hard as you can for them to user your website. Brilliant words of wisdom from another lazy developer pushing Redmond's mandate.

hercules.gunter
hercules.gunter

If you're making your Web site for your own purposes, you can set it up any way you like and if potential visitors can't view it unless they want to view it your way, that's fine. If, however, your Web site is for the purpose of persuading people to part with money and you don't make it accessible to their browser, they're going to go away and not spend money. I have encountered such sites which want to download ActiveX controls, and I simply will not permit that - it is with reluctance that I trust the Windows Update site! So, if you refuse to be browser-neutral, you're throwing away up to 30% of your potential market. This is not, in my view, a wise decision.

tsavage
tsavage

Yep! Posts about "coding to standards" obviously haven't lived through previous w3c standards that prohibited graphics except for procreative purposes, the "Best Viewed in Netscape" revolution and others expanding (ignoring) standards for the collective good. If we all coded to standards, we'd still be using SGML. (Which was really fine for the purpose it was intended. Oh, nooo I've probably offended IBM, Carnegie Mellon and a large group of CERN folks).

k1p2k1p2
k1p2k1p2

Nothing too bizarre so far...Safari seems to have more going on *right* than some elements of other browsers, and users will be the test of its survival...keep your code high and tight!

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

Why do you feel Safari for Windows will inevitably be a success? How do you define success? For all it's success, Firefox is installed on less than 15% of Windows systems. Most Windows home users don't care about switching browsers, so Safari's growth will probably come from those of us who didn't mind trying Firefox, Opera, etc. Will most of Safari's growth on Windows systems come from Firefox's installation base?

jeffusa
jeffusa

It won't surprise me if apple makes it an option to install safari in a later version of itunes. This will expand it out to the non-techie types. Firefox is mainly used by techie types.

RexWorld
RexWorld

I'm guessing they have a chance to at least double Safari's share (when you combine the Windows with the Mac versions). I don't know what Apple would consider a success, but to me doubling your market share sounds like a success. In fact they will probably do even better. Look at iTunes, there's far more PC installations than Mac. So if they can get similar results with Safari they might triple or quadruple their current browser share.

vmaatta
vmaatta

Actually I'm quite sure Apple doesn't care all that much about Safari's "market share". It's a free software. Apple is a hardware company. Yes it does make OS X and a lot of other software but it is a hardware company. What apple would like to see with Safari for Windows is more users moving to Apple hardware from Windows. Probably one bug motivation of making Safari for Windows is the fact that a lot of web developers use Windows and thus this gives them a chance to test their apps on it (iPhone apps i.e.)

Roho
Roho

This must be sarcastic. This can not be serious. I mean, on comes another good browser that does it utmost to be standards compliant and we should shoo it away because there is one big bully that doesn't comply, but is just big. Don't think so. Safari for Windows should not give you much extra work. You should have tested against Safari on Apple. And the other browsers: Firefox, Opera and IE6/7. I still love the quote: "Build for the best and test for the rest". I think Safari is one of the best in rendering and standards support so if you have followed the advise there shouldn't be too many surprises. Unless you have turned the process upside down and build for IE7 (or worse IE6) and then Safari for Windows makes you go back and redo things. No, this article was a very good sarcastic piece and so far all the commenters have fallen into the trap. Very good one! LOL!

Roho
Roho

All the way!

dke
dke

Crumudgeon is not the problem, myopic is. Yes, we all realize that QA is annoying. The problem is that Microsoft has undermined people's thinking to the point where they THINK that single platform compatibility and conforming to non-standard is a good thing. Yes, Safari will require more work. But it is work that REAL developers should have been doing for a while -- but weren't. They instead assumed that Explorer compatibility was good enough. And it wasn't, as anyone with any other browser realized. The worst sites out there are usually have half-assed QA, and think that developing on Explorer and a quick pass by Mozilla (of some flavor) is good enough. It never was. Safari and all the iPhone users may FINALLY wake them up to that fact.