Category: browsers

From the market leaders to the up-and-comers; news and opinion on browsing software.

State of the Browser

This weekend I attended the London Web Standards group’s State of the Browser, a one-day event with representatives of many of the major browser makers giving us status reports on their products. Chrome, Firefox, Opera and Blackberry were all there; a member of the IE team was due to show but had to pull out for personal reasons (he viewed the live stream and answered some questions from home). The notable absence was Safari, whose community engagement is really not good enough.

There were long talks and shorter breakout sessions, as well as plenty of time to socialise; the LWS must really be congratulated on organising such a good event. There was plenty of news and talking points throughout the day — far too much, really, for me to write here, so I’ll just write up notes of what I found most interesting to me.

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On Internet Explorer and Microsoft

I’m not a blind Microsoft-basher, neither am I an MS fanboy (in fact, I think the whole idea of aligning yourself with any single technology or brand is pretty narrow-minded). I think MS do some things well, and some things poorly. I am going to have a bit of a pop at them at the end of this article, but I’m going to start by defending them.

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An IE9 review with a massive error

I downloaded the IE9 Beta last night, and while I haven’t had the chance to give it a proper once-over yet, I’m pretty impressed with its capabilities so far. The real star is the hardware acceleration, which opens pages so fast it seems like magic. The new HTML5 and CSS3 support is very welcome.

You can read an in-depth review of it at ZDNet, except it seems to be written by someone who doesn’t really understand CSS very well.

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HTML5 block-level link bug in IE7+

HTML5 allows the use of block elements inside the a tag, which was not permitted in HTML4. This means that you can wrap a link around whole sections of markup, making all of the child elements of the a become the link. You use it like so:

<a href="http://example.com">
  <div>
    <h3>I'm an example</h3>
  </div>
</a>

You can begin to use this straight away, as every browser supports it — although you must be wary of one rather glaring bug in Internet Explorer.

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Where do I find out what’s new in WebKit?

I’m a big fan of using nightly and pre-release versions of browsers; not for day-to-day use, but to find out what new features are on their way. Obviously this is made a lot easier when detailed changelogs are provided.

Firefox do a great job of this with their website The Burning Edge, which gives fortnightly (more or less) lists of changes in the latest trunk builds, and Opera’s Desktop Team Blog does likewise on a semi-regular basis. The Internet Explorer team have done a good job of documenting all the changes in IE9 with the Platform Preview Release Notes.

The notable exception seems to be WebKit. I’ve looked around but I can’t find any site which gives an overview of changes in the nightly builds. I could subscribe to the RSS feed of their Trac, but it would be a nightmare trying to find the interesting features amongst all the technical changes. The Surfin’ Safari and Planet WebKit aren’t any help.

So does anyone know how to find this information for WebKit? I can’t believe it doesn’t exist.

Update: As if by magic, look what I found just a day later: Last week in.. WebKit and Chromium!


New to Firefox: ‑moz-calc and :-moz-any

The latest nightly releases of what will become Firefox 4 have implemented a couple of experimental new CSS features. The -moz-calc function allows calculations on length values, and the :-moz-any selector permits grouping of simple selectors.

If you have a nightly build of Firefox you can see a little demo I’ve put together of them in action.

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Aside

I’ve updated my Speaking page to include more conferences, more videos, and a little on my speaking requirements and preferences. I’m planning to cut down on the number of talks I give in 2014 (twelve is too many), but am always open to interesting offers and opportunities, so please get in touch if you’re organising an event.

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