letting the dust settle…

…across reinvented web browsers and devices.

Whenever a browser implements a new standard or non-standard feature, joyful outcries from groups of web designers over “the new toy” can be registered across internet. Almost immediately we can surf around between numerous tests and demos for the new feature, and then after a while it kind of goes quiet.

That one or two browsers support some new code or set of commands that work on one type of hardware, is great fun. Of limited use until all, or at least most, browsers support the same code and set of commands similarly across a wide range of devices in general use though.

There are of course those web designers – usually hobbyists or freelancers with plenty of time on their hand – who are satisfied with creating utopian designs for their favorite browser no matter what turns up in other browsers, but professional web developers can and should for obvious reasons not go that route. We need full cross‐browser support, or at least ways to implement acceptable fallbacks for non-supporting browsers.

reality check.

I see no point in being first in line in testing and demoing new features on line. Maintaining a list of links to other people's progressive work, and following evolution across browser‐land from the sideline, makes more sense in my line of web development work.

For the most part I focus on local testing for bugs and/or differences in how browsers handle stuff that has been “widely supported for years”. This web site may not push browsers very hard on new features, but it uncovers a surprising amount of real‐world support failures, bugs and troublesome differences in handling “old features” in new browser versions.

That browser vendors claim support for features by referring to web standards, is in itself not important the way I see it. It is so easy to serve valid real‐world combinations of code that split browsers into “strong and weak supporters”, that nearly all claims of support made by any browser vendor can be proven wrong.

In reality we are working around and debugging browsers all day long while coding for them, to prevent end‐users from seeing browser weaknesses as failures on our part. For the most part this is not causing problems in our day to day work, as long as we allow for and accept some differences and variations across browser‐land.

invent all you like.

Browser vendors, device developers and standard bodies may invent and implement as many new and fancy standard and non-standard features they like for all I care. However, the higher number of “exclusive features” I find in a product while shopping, the less serious I take that product for anything but a play‐thing.

If browser vendors can't, or won't, agree on what and how to implement, it's their problem, not mine. Utilizing solutions that only work properly in some browsers on some devices and not in others, is OK, but only if it does not cause serious cross‐browser and ‑device problems.

a long time coming…

It has taken me well over a year to finish this article. Not because I had writer's block or anything, but because I have been looking for signs of real improve­ments across browser‐land. So far I haven't seen much signs of that, so I may as well finish writing and release my notes on the subject.

Once the dust has settled after one “revolution”, and all relevant products are lined up at a higher level of standards support, it may be time to take one more step up the support‐stairs and wait there for the next “revolution”. In the mean time, observing it all from the sidelines without taking any action beyond testing what works and what doesn't, works best for us web designers – in my opinion.

sincerely  georg; sign

Hageland 14.aug.2012

last rev: 21.oct.2013

side notes.

standards follow reality.

Someone has to come up with an idea and at least try to turn it into a product or utilize it in existing ones, before it can be standardized. Most ideas and whatever come out of them do of course not survive all that long, which means standards related to them are either never written, or they will have to be revised somewhat frequently to keep up with reality.

Quality doesn't matter much in the marketplace, so the best ideas may fall by the wayside just as easily as the really, really bad ones. Makes the task of making somewhat correct predictions of what we will have to deal with in a year or two rather difficult – not worth the effort in my opinion.

technology lacks prepared content.

Technologies exist for which we have few if any uses today. Surfing through old web sites is much like watching old TV‐series on a modern HD‐TV – HD doesn't help much and neither does modern browsers.

On one hand we need a higher number of web sites that utilize advancements in modern browsers, and on the other we need a wide range of advanced browsers and devices to justify coding at, or at least near, the very edge.

Now, the question is what will come first to drive progress across the board – technology or prepared content?

The answer is of course that technology has to come first, and that it quickly has to become somewhat standardized so we have something reasonably stable to prepare anything for. We can't all gamble on what will survive long enough to be worth our effort.

round and round it goes…

The increased speed and frequency with which new and/or seriously altered hardware and software products are released, may satisfy some people's hunger for new play‐things but doesn't contribute much beyond that.

For those of us who are not all that interested in play‐things, the share number of them arriving on the market each week only makes it slightly harder to find something worth our attention – something that will actually solve real problems in day to day life and last as long as we need it to.

The marketplace for technology is actually becoming a bit boring – more so for each year that passes, for those of us who don't aim at being first in line to buy things that quite predictable will end up in the garbage‐can in a few months to a year anyway.

Once we find a product with the qualities we need, we tend to hang on to it for as long as possible, knowing all too well that chances are there won't be another product available that can take its place once the old one quit working.

I think this is what some call “progress”.

www.gunlaug.com advice upgrade advice upgrade navigation