Browser round-up

Published on 9 Oct 2006 at 8:02 pm.
Filed under Web stuff.

It looks like the month of October is going to be a big month in the world of Web Development. Microsoft has announced that IE7 is will be coming this month, and Firefox 2.0 has reached release candidate 2 and is rumored to have the official release this month. Microsoft has announced that IE7 will be pushed to Windows XP users via Windows Update. I gotta admit, that’s a bold move. I hate to work in a help desks right now with the flood of calls complaining that IE is “broken”.

So, what does this all mean? What’s is the point in upgrading? Glad you asked. In essence, both browsers have improved in numerous areas — improved memory management, speed, security fixes, and the addition of phishing protection.

Internet Explorer 7

IE7 is the first major upgrade to IE in a whopping five years! As a Web Developer, all I have to say is thank you. It finally adds native alpha-transparencies for PNGs, native XMLHTTPRequest objects, and most importantly to me improved CSS support. For users, IE7 finally adds tabbed browsing and RSS feeds. Tabbed browsing has been available in every other Web browser for at least three years, and is essentially the reason why there are about a billion browsers out there are essentially wrap IE into an environment with tabbed browsing support. While I find their implementation lacking, I think the push for RSS will raise awareness and thus increase support. While this comes as a result of how developers code, users should be ecstatic that Microsoft has improved the garbage collector in IE7 so that certain JavaScript closures should no longer cause memory leaks. About damn time. Also, IE7 will finally have a search box in the menu, like how every other browser has had for at least two years.

Now the developer in me is a bit annoyed because the claim for “native” PNGs seems to be a bit half-assed, not adding all PNGs features, but being able to do transparencies is good enough. In addition, the CSS improvements are definitely appreciated, but it is seriously lacking compared to that of Firefox. Support for generated content and the addition of the table-* values for the display attribute would literally revolutionize Web Design — no longer would designers have to go through unnecessary hacks to produce columns or rounded corners.

Firefox 2.0

Now on to Firefox. Big changes for Firefox involve an in-line spell checking, a session manager, improved tab browser support (adding an undo close tab, arrows for scrolling tabs, and a close button on the tabs), an improved add-on manager, JavaScript 1.7, search term suggestion in the search box and better search engine plug-in support, improved SVG support, and a new default theme. Now, the spell checker, session manager, and the tab browser changes are already possible with Firefox 1.5, but those require extensions. While I definitely find a spell checker useful (heck, I have the extension installed), I don’t see why it should be a native feature. I already use an extension that does all the changes for tabbed browsing and the session manager, so I’ll be happy to remove that extension as I definitely see those features as necessary for a great tabbed environment. That said, I do not know if they will add a “duplicate tab” feature, which is the only killer requirement to me for tabbed browsing, and I will look for an extension to add only that feature after I drop the then useless extension that I currently use that has that feature. All of that sounds good, and I’m looking forward to its release (though I will not upgrade until my mouse gesture extension gets upgraded).


Surprisingly I never wrote about this new Web browser. Why would I do that you ask? Because it intended to give Windows users a Web browser that used the WebKit rendering engine — the same rendering engine that Apple’s Safari Web browser uses. No longer would Windows users have to switch to a Mac to test their pages … or so we thought. The browser only reached a 0.1 release when it hit the blogosphere. Unfortunately, this achieved more success than the sole developer hoped, and resulted in him spending $350 to keep his site running for the two-three months that it was open, and he only took in like $140. He said he was going to have the site up for a little bit and just give up after he released version 0.2, but as you can see by his Web site being down, I don’t think we’ll ever see his next iteration. Kind sad, because I know there are thousands of Web Developers that would like to have seen this take off. Personally, I wish that it got further, as version 0.1 hadn’t implemented enough features, and crashed whenever I went to my Web site. 🙁

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