Friday, July 16, 2010

Browser Wars!

Pic Stolen From WebAppers

It seems to me that with all the talk about HTML5 and Web 2.0 we would have a little more standardization from one browser to the next. Somehow this is not the case. I can't quite figure out how pages can look so drastically different from one browser to the next. I do some Web development on occasion and I must say that even for a flat site with little going on, it can be a real pain making sure that it the page displays properly on all of these different browsers.

I have 5 different browsers running on my machine right now and 3 of them are terrible! I am going to go through and review the 5 browsers that I am currently running on my Windows system (My Linux machines are all running FireFox and Chrome. But that's a story for a later time). Ranked from worst to first, lets start a browser war:

5) Internet Explorer 8:
I really don't want to waste too much time here (no, really I don't). This is a poor excuse for a browser. It's slow, it's ugly, and there is no HTML5 support. I really only keep it around to test sites and make sure they display properly in IE and because there are some random sites that for some reason still only work in IE (you know who you are and if I find you I am going to brutally persuade you to change your Web programming practices with a baseball bat!!). If you are still using IE as your main browser...STOP IT! STOP IT RIGHT NOW!!!

4) Safari 5:
Before all the Mac Heads go crazy on me, let me remind you that this is rated purely on how the browsers preform on a Windows system. We all know about how awesome Safari is on the Mac and how it's the greatest piece of software to come along in the last 20 years (I really wish there was a sarcasm font). What most of us don't know is that, like it's ITunes counterpart, Safari's performance on Windows is poor at best. It doesn't have the speed of Opera or Chrome. It doesn't have the extensions and features of FireFox. In fact the only thing it has going for it is that it isn't IE. Safari only exists on my machine because ITunes keeps installing it with every update. I can't even use it to reliably test Safari's ability to render pages because it works and looks differently on a Mac, so why should I bother testing a browser/OS combination that no one uses?

3) Opera 10.6:
I like Opera, they are like the little engine that could, but I think that they really need to rethink a few things. I talked about Opera Unite in the past and I was excited about it. But it never worked properly and when it was working, it was so slow it was unusable. I love Opera mini for my Blackberry. In fact, I can't live without it. Perhaps Opera should spend more time and money on it's mobile browser. According to some recent articles Opera 10.6 has overtaken Google Chrome in speed tests and benchmarks. This has gotten some Opera fans in a tizzy about their favorite browser:

I have never been a fan of benchmark tests or any "Lab Tests" that are run on hardware and software. I prefer to rely on my own personal "real use" tests. My general use test showed that overall (at least for the sites I use most) Chrome still performed faster. I would have bumped Opera up to number two, but FireFox just has too many features/extensions that I use every day, that I just don't have with Opera.

For a long time FireFox was the only browser I would use. It has an extension for just about anything you could want to do on the Internet! It runs reasonably fast and renders most pages accurately. It is in line with many HTML5 features and could easily be the average users default browser. Just not mine. FireFox still takes way too long to open (before you get started, the default install of 3.6 with no extensions loads slowly) and the more extensions you add, the slower it gets! It still leaks memory like a sieve! If you leave a few tabs open and walk away from your computer to say, I don't know, go to lunch, you will most likely have to reboot your computer when you get back because your RAM will be all chewed up! The memory leaks have gotten better with each edition and I suppose that having the save & quit option allows you to close FireFox and pick it up again later. It's just annoying enough to keep me from using it as my number one.

At number one  is Google Chrome. It is the fastest browser available for the Windows operating system. I prefer speed and reliability above all else. I have chose Chrome as my default browser because it does almost everything faster than the other browsers available. I would like the ability to block ads and a FireFTP extension would be AWESOME! I will continue to use FireFox for a few things here and there (like FTP access), but Chrome gets my overall seal of approval. There are a lot of developer functions built into Chrome as well. The ability to right-click and select Inspect Element on almost anything is a huge time saver for me. It allows you to quickly go right to the source code for any given object in a page. The Developer menu gives you even more options like the JavaScript console and the Developer's Tools panel. There is even a task manager built in that lets you see where the browser resources are going. Besides the time I am saving with the browser's overall speed the amount of time I save by being able to track and look at all the resources of a given page in one location is an amazing gift of productivity.

What's your browser of choice?

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Changes Changes

Over the past few months there has been some changes to Blogger's format and I was unable to update my blog. I recently had the time to convert all the old entries to the new format and forward all the old links to the new Blogger location. Sorry about the delay. New posts coming soon. Until then enjoy the new layout :)