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Browser upgrade

If you were looking at this in any browser but Microsoft Internet Explorer, it would look and run better and faster.

Dori called attention to the Use a Better Browser campaign yesterday, and I actually wound up staying up late reading some of the links, including the excellent article from Tim Bray explaining why we can’t (shouldn’t, won’t) be tied down by the browsing capabilities built in to Windows. (I like his illustrations, too.)

I’ve been frustrated many a time attempting to create a site design which is valid (X)HTML and CSS, but also works well across the spectrum of browsers. Inevitably, I wind up compromising part of the design because it is both really slick in “standards-compliant” browsers, and an awful train wreck in Explorer. (Concrete example: www.devbio.com/ has a company logo floating under the navigation bars. That’s supposed to be anchored to the bottom of the browser window, but you can’t do that in IE; if you try, it works everywhere else, but in IE it winds up running over the chapter selection menu.)

Based on that paragraph, I wouldn’t bother posting this, because if the only message of “Use a Better Browser” was, “Get rid of the software you’re comfortable with and have a bookmark investment in so that I can have an easier time doing my job,” it wouldn’t be worth doing. There will always be people using IE, and as a site builder I will always have to allow for them, even if they’re less than 10% of visitors to a site. Evangelism won’t change that.

The message, which Bray makes clear, is that using a “modern” browser (such as Mozilla, Firefox, Opera, or Safari) actually provides a better Web experience. They render pages faster. Many designers are taking advantage of tweaks and quirks to hide features from IE (because they’re “broken” there) and display them in the newer browsers which can take advantage of them. And there are upcoming technologies, like SVG (Scalable Vector Graphics) which improve the online experience, and which IE will not support until Longhorn, which we’re now hearing might not arrive until 2006. Not convinced? All four of these browsers have pop-up ad blocking built in. (I haven’t checked Opera, but I’m sure it’s not missing there.) Microsoft is just now admitting that might not be a bad idea.

Looking backward, there’s the security issue. I think I download and install a Microsoft security patch for IE on a twice-monthly basis. Personally, it’s a mild annoyance. As someone also responsible for a small network and slew of desktop machines, it’s a colossal pain. It is much, much easier for me to advocate Mozilla in-house, and help my users switch over. Every one who has made the switch has remarked on the improvement.

So, just like the security CD, I’ll make this a standing offer. If you’re switching from IE to Mozilla or Firefox on a PC, and need help moving your bookmarks or switching the default web application in Windows, let me know. (In the unlikely event that I don’t already know you, please remind me that you saw this here.) I’ll provide email support (and faster, probably, than mozilla.org can, since I have lower volume.)

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When I was first getting set up with Linux, I had all kinds of great people around to help (endico, dmose, leaf, myk, and others) and that made a world of difference. Even just knowing that I could send an email to Dawn or Myk made me that much more li... [Read More]

Comments

I just downloaded Firefox. Holy crap—the difference in page loading time is incredible.

I use Safari at home, and find it infinitely superior to IE for Mac.

Thanks for the heads-up.

Opera does indeed have pop-up blocking, and has had certainly since v6.

however, I use Firefox and firebird before that, mainly because of the adblock extension (http://adblock.mozdev.org/), I am always horrified how many adverts are on the web when I have to use IE (at university for example)

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