Why do web designers test with multiple browsers?

Programming, Tech, Web No Comments

Related to my post yesterday, friends and family members often ask me why I recommend Firefox as their primary browser. I am frequently asked questions like, “What’s wrong with Internet Explorer?” Despite the fact that alternative browsers are gaining market share, the vast majority of users still use IE, simply because they don’t feel they are advanced enough to use something else.

In addition to the added security and features, I use Firefox for one other very important reason. Believe it or not, other programmers have actually asked me why I test webpages in multiple browsers! I know this is hard to believe, but the logic is that since the overwhelming majority still uses Internet Explorer, why worry about the last 10%. Obviously there are flaws in this logic which brings me to the other important reason I use Firefox. Standards Compliance.

While, no browser is fully standard compliant, Firefox and Opera are much closer than IE6. Microsoft promises that IE7 will be more standards compliant, actually stating that some pages hacked to work with IE6 will have to be rewritten/fixed to work with IE7. Thankfully, as an ASP.NET developer, I was delighted to hear that ASP.NET 2.0 produces standards compliant code!

The problem is, writing code for IE6 is a bit like Black Magic. It will cause a programmer to rip their hair out, which I will use as an excuse for my receding hairline :). Therefore supporting standards compliance is the battle cry of most web designers.

This brings me to this hilarious, yet truthful graph from Poisoned Minds which shows how web designers divide their time.

Web Design Time Pie Chart

*Note: I have slightly modified the image to keep the site family-friendly.

Internet Explorer 7 Beta 3 for Windows XP & Opera 9 Now Available

Programming, Tech, Web No Comments

Firefox, Internet Explorer, OperaAlthough I primarily use and recommend Mozilla Firefox due to its wonderful extension support, I thought I would take a moment to discuss other browsers.

Microsoft Internet Explorer Team has officially released Internet Explorer Beta 3 for Windows XP.
If you refuse to use any browser other than IE, or if you absolutely need IE specific technologies such as ActiveX, I highly recommend giving IE7 Beta 3 a try. Security has been greatly improved, and the interface is growing on me, although slowly. The tab support works well, and the browser seems quite speedy and responsive.

In other news Opera has released Version 9 of their web browser. I must say, I am really impressed with the newest version of Opera. Although it lacks the vast extension support of Firefox, the browser it self is very, very, good. It is speedy, lightweight, and stable. Version 9 sports an impressive list of features including support for the holy grail of CSS compliance: Acid2.

Although I will likely stick with Firefox on the desktop because of its extension and plug-in support, I think Opera is an excellent browser for alternative platforms. Opera Mini and Opera Mobile are available for mobile phones and PDAs. If you are still using Pocket Internet Explorer, give Opera a try. Also, Opera and Nintendo have announced that the Nintendo DS and the next-generation Nintendo Wii Console will use the Opera Web browser. I think this is an excellent move for both companies. Nintendo will get a very functional, light weight browser. Opera will gain a large chunk of market share. This is a win-win for not only the companies, but standards compliance and webpage compatibility.

Of course, I suggest all web developers have Opera, Internet Explorer 6 and 7, and Firefox installed for testing purposes.

Internet Explorer 7.0 Gives Exciting New Print Experience.

Microsoft, Web No Comments

Printing in IE7One of the most annoying things about Internet Explorer 6.0 has always been the lack of printing options for printing web pages. It is almost impossible to print a modern webpage in Internet Explorer because you typically get the left navigation menu and a bunch of cut off sentences.

Firefox helped this need tremendously by adding a “Shrink to Fit” printing option so that the entire page could be printed. This is a wonderful feature that I use very often.

But what if we don’t need the side navigation menu, and want to keep the page layout in tact while printing?

Enter Internet Explorer 7.0. (Note: Internet Explorer 7.0 is still in beta. Do not use on your production machine!)

Microsoft has listened to our complaints and answered our prayers. IE7 adds the wealth of printing options including shrink to fit, as an exciting new cropping print tool that lets you select what area of the print preview you wish to print.

This is very exciting stuff!

Here’s hoping Mozilla adds this type of printing support to Firefox in the near future.

Isn’t competition great?

Read more about IE7’s printing enhancements over at the IE blog on MSDN:
IE7 Printing: An Experience You Won’t Want To Miss

Useful Firefox Extensions

Tech, Web No Comments

Firefox Extensions make my life easier in countless ways on a daily basis.
I believe extensions are the primary advantage firefox has over its competitors.

In this post, I will give you a list my favorite extensions, and a description of each.
The links I provided are to the extensions homepage; however most can be downloaded from Mozilla Update.

1 ) Image Zoom – This is my absolute favorite extension. It allows zooming in/out on image files via Right-Click menu. This is excellent when an image is too small or too large to be viewed easily on your monitor.

2 ) BugMeNot – This extension automatically grabs usernames and passwords from http://www.bugmenot.com. This saves countless hours when trying to read a quick article on a site that requires registration.

3 ) GMail Notifier – This extension is self explanatory. It will monitor your GMail account and notify you when new mail arrives.

4 ) PDF Download – Have you ever clicked on a link, only to realize that it is to a PDF when Adobe Reader freezes your browser while loading the document?
Fear no more with this handy extension. When a PDF link is clicked, a menu will be displayed asking how you want the file opened.

5 ) Session Saver – This extension will save your open tabs when the browser is closed. This is wonderful to reserve resources while not using Firefox. As an added bonus, Session Saver automatically saves your session in the event of a browser crash.

6 ) CustomizeGoogle – This extension customizes Google. It will add links to search your query on other search engines, adds preview images of search results, and adds Google Suggest functionality to the good search box.

7 ) IE Tab – This extension allows rendering webpages using the Internet Explorer engine inside of a Firefox tab. This one is really great when a page is not compatible with Firefox, or you need to run Microsoft Update.

8 ) ColorZilla – Eye dropper tool for Firefox. This extension allows you to grab the RGB and HEX color values for any pixel of a webpage. Essential for web development.

9 ) Web Developer – Excellent suite of tools designed to aid in the development of web pages. A similar, but less feature rich Internet Explorer Developer Toolbar is available from Microsoft.

10 ) Linky – Open a set of links in Tabs. Useful for link sites such as Reddit and Digg.

11 ) Menu Editor – As you can see I use a lot of extensions. Several of the extensions add extra entries to the Right-Click menu. Menu Editor allows you to reorder or delete items on the Right-Click Menu

12 ) Form History Manager – Firefox’s form history can be a life simplifier, by remembering your email address and other information that frequently need to be entered in forms. However, isn’t it annoying when the form history displays incorrect information, due that that time you accidentally mis-typed your email address? Form History Manger to the rescue! This handy little extension will allow you to remove unwanted elements from the form history.

13 ) StumbleUpon – The cure for internet boredom! Simply select categories that interest you. Press the Stumble! button on the stumbleupon toolbar, and be instantly sent to a webpage about one of your interests. Be sure to rate the sites thumbs up or thumbs down as this will help stumble upon weed out which types of pages interest you most.

14 ) ForecastFox – Weather forecast on firefox status bar.

15 ) Adblock Plus – Improved version of the popular Adblock Extension. This extension will allow you to block ads at a whim. It will also allow you to create white lists of allowed ads. Don’t forget to install the Adblock FilterSet.G Updater extension to automatically update your list of filtered ads.

Dave

FCKEditor, an alternative to FreeTextBox

Programming, Web 1 Comment

FCKEditor is a free, open source (LGPL) alternative for those of you who need more flexibility than FreeTextBox.
Unlike FreeTextBox, FCKEditor is not limited for unlicensed users.

FCKEditor is not only available in .NET, but also JAVA and Plone.
Check out the demo here.

I may have just found my text box of choice for future applications!

Firefox 1.5RC2 Released.

Web No Comments

Much better Update Mechanism and Extension support.

Most extensions and themes have been updated, grab it now!

Firefox 1.5 Beta

Web No Comments

I have recently switched to Firefox 1.5 beta as my primary browser.

As a long time user of Pheonix/Firebird/Firefox I eagerly anticipate the final release of this next version of firefox.

The Extension system has been rewritten which should prevent old extensions from breaking firefox in the future.

Also there is a new auto-update mechanism which is a very welcome addition to myself and other system admins of the world.

The only downside I currently see is that the beta does not convert your old profile, so you will need to create a new one.

For those of you willing to play with beta software Grab it here and give it a whirl:
Firefox 1.5 beta