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Rapid Browser Development Challenges Web Developers 221

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the commitment-is-too-scary dept.
Esther Schindler writes "Feeling a little overwhelmed by changing web standards and new browser choices? You aren't the only one. Mozilla is launching development tracks for the next two editions of its Firefox Web browser immediately, with hopes to push both into general release before the end of the year. This while Microsoft previews Internet Explorer 10 on the heels of its IE9 release, and Google projects Chrome 13 just one year after Chrome 7. Meanwhile, HTML5, the next version of the Web's primary language, appears to have entered a permanent gestation phase. Writes Scott Fulton: All the confusion has prompted Web developers to ask this question: What do we develop our sites against now?"
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Rapid Browser Development Challenges Web Developers

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  • by arth1 (260657) on Tuesday May 31, 2011 @05:42PM (#36302074) Homepage Journal

    What do we develop our sites against now?"

    Why, standards, of course. To develop a web site "against" or "for" browsers is having lost the battle before you've even started it.

  • by Daniel Dvorkin (106857) on Tuesday May 31, 2011 @05:54PM (#36302190) Homepage Journal

    Yeah, but what standard? That's the problem. For a number of years, ever since we got past the bad old days of Netscape vs. IE, you could point at HTML $NUMBER and say, "that's it, that's the standard." Kind of the point of TFA is that you can't do that anymore, or won't be able to shortly, and it sucks.

  • by Drooling Iguana (61479) on Tuesday May 31, 2011 @05:55PM (#36302200)

    I'm not going to click on your link as it's a tinyurl. This isn't Twitter; you can link to proper URLs here, so that people can actually see where they're going before they click.

  • by Phyridean (1122061) on Tuesday May 31, 2011 @05:58PM (#36302224)
    Not that I disagree with your philosophy, but this is rather like saying "Don't develop for real-world conditions. Develop for our theories! I don't care that the real world doesn't conform to our theories, it really should." and then being surprised that whatever you're building doesn't actually work.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday May 31, 2011 @05:59PM (#36302234)

    You must have not been paying attention over the past 15 years; the battle was already lost, people have been developing against browsers and not standards for a long time.

    Just because it's the way it has always been done doesn't mean that it is correct. Develop for standards. The browser that best supports the standards will be the one that wins. The browser developers should be the ones aiming for compatibility, not the web developers. Once you make the switch, the only viable browsers are the ones that support standards. Bye bye IE. See you never.

    If enough high profile clients complain to microsoft that their browser makes their site look funny, maybe they will actually fix it. I realize this is easier said than done, but it's a case of throw a handful of developers for the browsers at the problem to make it standards compliant, or throw millions of developers at the web programming end to try to keep up with it. On the other hand Woo! Job Security!

  • IE6 (Score:4, Insightful)

    by nedlohs (1335013) on Tuesday May 31, 2011 @06:00PM (#36302238)

    with flash if you want to be fancy.

  • Wait until 2014. (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday May 31, 2011 @06:06PM (#36302290)

    Then HTML5 will be finalized and XP will have its support dropped so no more IE6,7 and 8 to worry about. Until then design for IE7/Firefox 3.6 and if your business still needs IE6 then install another browser, the world isn't going cater to your old browser forever, no matter how persistent your incompetent managers are.

  • by arth1 (260657) on Tuesday May 31, 2011 @06:11PM (#36302344) Homepage Journal

    Not that I disagree with your philosophy, but this is rather like saying "Don't develop for real-world conditions. Develop for our theories! I don't care that the real world doesn't conform to our theories, it really should." and then being surprised that whatever you're building doesn't actually work.

    And that is how you should develop. But, you should, of course test against real world conditions, once you have working code, and not a moment before.
    Fix or adjust for the few browser-specific issues that may be left at that point -- they will be far fewer than the issues you create if you code for real world browsers - that's painting yourself into a corner, and pretty much guaranteeing that your product will fail spectacularly when a new browser enters the market.

    Resist the temptation to want to see how the web site looks before it's finished. It doesn't buy you anything, and sidetracks you. If you build a building, you build it according to code, and don't build it to fit particular users, or move the windows and resize the doors while building because of how one individual is built.

  • by cdrguru (88047) on Tuesday May 31, 2011 @06:30PM (#36302522) Homepage

    The creators and maintainers of HTML and XHTML have said over and over that the language is a description of content and absolutely not in any manner a design for presentation. Presentation was to be left to the browser and the user.

    Well, that lasted all of about five minutes. The first thing that came along was the use of white-space spacing graphics and tables to push things around so they looked consistent across varying screen widths - so that the 800x600 screen looked like the 1024x768 screen. To make the presentation customized as designed by the web developer (and whoever is paying them) and to have a consistent user experience. Not at all what the design of HTML is for.

    So today we have web sites developed with the specific intent of circumventing the design of HTML and XHTML. Amazingly, these design hacks are not something that anyone really tests for in browser development - they are interested in developing something that meets the criteria of the design of HTML, not the intent of the web developer. In a few cases there are actually things that have been adopted into the browser design to make the web developer's life easier. Since these things are clearly non-standard and unique to a particular browser they make the web developer's life hell.

    So where there were maybe 4 or 5 specific platforms to test against before, now there are far more. 15? 20? More?

    The real solution is to have a web presentation language that does define presentation, which is what just about everyone really wants. Except for the maintainers of the HTML standard. Not only is the problem not going to get any better, by definition we have two groups moving in different directions. It is going to get a lot worse and probably at an expotential rate.

  • Re:HTML 3.2 (Score:3, Insightful)

    by next_ghost (1868792) on Tuesday May 31, 2011 @07:02PM (#36302788)
    HTML 4.01 Strict. At least until W3C comes back to its senses and drops the "living standard" crap for HTML5.
  • by pavon (30274) on Tuesday May 31, 2011 @07:19PM (#36302954)

    Yeah, we should be writing standards compliant code. Nobody disagrees with that. However, all of the browsers only implement a subset of the standard, and if you implement an important feature using part of the standard that isn't well supported yet, then you fucked up. Last minute tweaking won't fix that; you have to completely redo the code using a different approach.

    You need to know what subset of the standard to use before you start coding. This is arguably getting more difficult these days as W3C takes ages to release a standard and WHATWG has decided to abandoned released standards, and instead continually adding to a moving "standard".

    The difficulties in trying to determine this subset is the point of the article.

  • by Eponymous Hero (2090636) on Tuesday May 31, 2011 @07:28PM (#36303016)
    if you think IE is ubiquitous because web developers never took a stand against it, you are hopelessly naive. the microsoft standard wasn't created by developers, it was created by businesses who put millions of IE browsers in front of their workers. IE won't go away simply because some other browser developer will make a better browser -- that's already been done! good lord, you are naive.

    your idyllic utopia:

    pogue: look boss, this website we developed for the company looks like crap on IE browsers when we follow web standards.
    boss: oh that's alright. you did it the right way, despite that the majority of users have IE. i'll just complain to microsoft and they should have their browsers fixed before our launch deadline.

    reality:

    pogue: look boss, this website we developed for the company looks like crap on IE browsers when we follow web standards.
    boss: well make it look good in IE (as well as other browsers that follow web standards to differing degrees), and your deadline still stands. oh, and there's a list of features we'd like to add while you're in there testing. some of them contradict the user stories you've been building for. make it work in IE 5.5 for mac too. because my mom uses that, and when i show it off to her i want it to look perfect.
  • by sycodon (149926) on Wednesday June 01, 2011 @12:15AM (#36304842)

    ...at least for corporate online sites.

    Too much time is wasted jerking off to the restrictions of the browser model. Code all over the fucking place...javascript here, server code there. Sessions variables that aren't available because...excuuuuse me, I'm in the wrong code block. Is it full Postback or a partial Postback? Do you really need a fucking library of books that constitute an entire zoo? Perl, Python, Ruby, PHP, Java, .NET, C#, C++, C++++, VB.net, F#, FU! Ajax, SOAP, Object not set to an instance of an object...which fucking object God Dammit!

    AAAAHHHHHH!!!!!!

    This wheel has been reinvented so many times the development world is like a huge used tire depot. More often that not, it's on fire.

You can do more with a kind word and a gun than with just a kind word. - Al Capone

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