Archive for the ‘Internet Explorer’ Category

Wednesday, June 22nd 2005

Some More AJAX, Anyone?

Just found a rather nice JavaScript application, so I thought, since everyone else is hyping JavaScript/AJAX/DHTML/whatever right now – why can’t I?

The website in question is a Swedish website where you can find phone numbers to basically anything (in Sweden). It seems to be specifically the private phone numbers part which has a slick JavaScript hack: After searching for a name (try Pettersson, that should give you a few hits to play with) you can click any entry, and you will immediately get a map showing where the person in question lives:

Click again to minimize the entry again. Well, I guess it’s not all that advanced, but it’s definately handy. And, believe it or not, it actually works in IE, Firefox and Opera. I think I’ll have to send them a short thank-you-letter. 🙂

Wednesday, June 1st 2005

Opera Moving Towards Acid2 Compatibility

It looks like the Opera devs are pretty close to passing the Acid2 test. Just a few more bugfixes and they will be done! Hopefully they will release a version with all the fixes too, in a not too distant future.

Firefox has got left in the backwater of Safari and Opera here. The current nightlies of v1.1 still display the face like this:

Slightly broken Acid2 face.

Hopefully we will see the Acid2 fixes for Firefox after v1.1 is released this autumn. (Don’t expect that release any sooner…)

I also sincerely hope the IE Trident developers (Chris Wilson & co) are working towards passing the Acid2 test. If there isn’t time before shipping v7.0, then maybe at least for a version such as 7.1 or 7.5.

Monday, May 9th 2005

Is Bill Gates Not Getting It?

In an analysis by Tim Weber over at BBC News, regarding the competition Microsoft is currently having to deal with, Bill Gates is quoted: (on the subject of Firefox)

“I played around with it a bit, but it’s just another browser, and IE [Microsoft’s Internet Explorer] is better,” Mr Gates told me, and challenged my assertion that Firefox’s ‘market share’ is growing rapidly.

“So much software gets downloaded all the time, but do people actually use it?” he argued.

Just another browser, eh? IE is better is it? How come then that almost ten percent of the Internet’s users already ditched IE, counting only from the beginning of November? When (ex-) IE users realize how easy and efficient web surfing actually can be if you’re only using the right software, in my experience, they seldom look back.

The lowest Firefox usage figure at the moment is 5.69%. That figure, though, is now close to three months old, so we can easily reckon on Firefox being at a minimum figure of around 7% now. (We’ll soon find out – Web Side Story are due to release a new lot of numbers during this week.)

Update: It seems the page i linked to at WebSideStory has been removed. Maybe this is because of the imminent update.

Update 2: WebSideStory have now released the update, giving Firefox 6.75% of the US usage.

Tuesday, April 19th 2005

SP2 Turns AMD 3200+ Into AMD –3200

Today I decided I’d have a go at installing SP2 for Windows XP. Having heard of the various problems people have been having with SP2, I made a system restore point before starting.

I wasn’t really expecting any problems, thinking “Oh, I’m sure those things won’t happen to my computer”… Well, it turned out, SP2 made my AMD 64 3200+ (relatively speaking now) extremely sluggish. Everything that had previously been quick as a flash (like raising and lowering windows) was now excruciatingly slow. Windows were slowly rolled out over the desktop instead of just being maximized. Also, it decided to paint vertical turquoise lines of various lengths all over the screen.

So, after about one minute I decided to get rid of it. Thankfully, that wasn’t too difficult. I first went to Add/Remove Programs and uninstalled it from there. After the computer had restarted, I did a system restore back to the point I had saved before starting the installation. Now things are back to normal. And, strangely, the bug which pushed me into trying SP2 in the first place seems to be fixed now. (Dragging shortcuts from submenus of the Start menu to the Start menu itself didn’t work.)

So far, I’ve stayed safe by just using Firefox for (basically) all my surfing, Thunderbird for email and by using the NAT firewall in our WLAN router. (Plus an up-to-date antivirus of course – AVG 7.) That has been enough security to prevent any spyware or adware from getting in. The worst intrusion I’ve had so far has been a few tracking cookies. (Most of which have got in through Internet Explorer, for some strange reason.) I guess I’ll just have to cope without SP2 in the future too.

Thursday, April 14th 2005

W3Schools Visualized

The latest browser stats from W3Schools have just arrived, and I had some fun making a graph: (I love making graphs)

Remember, this only reflects what the tech spear-head internet users are browsing with.

Edit: Does anyone know what can have caused the pothole in the IE curve, back in 2002?

Wednesday, April 13th 2005

Acid2 Already Affecting Rendering Engines

The Acid2 test is already having impact on some of the main browsers. David Hyatt, who is one of the developers behind Mac’s Safari, has just blogged that he has already fixed two bugs which cause Safari to not display the test correctly. More bugfixes are on the way, too. The Mozilla browsers have also joined the party – an Acid2 bug has been created in their bugtracking system, which is meant to make up a list of all the rendering bugs which make Firefox et al fail the test.

Let’s just hope these guys also decide to come and join the fun.

Friday, April 8th 2005

Web Standards: The Acid2 Test

About a month back, Håkon Lie announced the planned creation of a browser technology test page named Acid2. The Web Standards Project agreed to sponsor and host the effort. Now the Acid2 test has been launched, although it hasn’t yet been officially announced.

It’s quite an ingenious work of art actually. It consists of a complex HTML page which makes use of a whole number of advanced CSS2 features. If rendered correctly, the various divs and spans and what-nots will make up a happy yellow face.

This test page makes me realize that even though Opera and Firefox are pretty good, they still have some way to go before they fully implement the available and useful standards. Here are screenshots showing how three common browsers cope with the test:

Here are screenshots of some old and some yet-to-be-released browsers: (Comparing Netscape 6.1 and a recent Firefox nightly build shows how far the Gecko layout engine has come since August 2001.)

Hopefully the Acid2 will inspire all the browser makers to further improve their standards compatibility. He who lives shall see.

Update: Reduced the size of the screenshots a bit.

Update 2005-11-02: Safari now passes the test! HamsterDeCombast posted a screenshot in the comments.

Wednesday, April 6th 2005

Improvements for Firefox 1.1

The great thing about open source programs like Firefox is the steady, never-ending stream of improvements and bugfixes. Here are some of the recent fixes, which will appear in Firefox 1.1:

  • The default settings have been changed to open requests from other applications in new tabs. (Bug 275430)
  • The CSS 3 outline property has been implemented. (Has previously been available as -moz-outline.)
  • Websites can now specify an image as the mouse cursor. (Bug 38447)
  • Selecting text on a page with a background colour similar to the text selection colour will now cause Firefox to invert the text colour and the background colour. (Bug 56314)
  • When zooming in on an image which has been automatically fitted to the window size, Firefox will now zoom in on the selected part of the image. (Bug 207219)

Of course, this is on top of some fairly major improvements already made:

  • The options dialog has been seriously improved and simplified.
  • The Sanitize function has been added, making it possible to automatically sweep your tracks when exiting Firefox (or via a key-stroke).
  • The Internet Explorer style error pages now work properly. (These error pages are enabled by typing about:config and setting browser.xul.error_pages.enabled to true.) (Bugs 237244 and 157004)

Also, maybe of minor importance, but good for website devs:

  • View source now shows exactly the HTML code sent by the server. (Bug 57724)

For up-to-date info on fixed bugs in Firefox, see the Burning Edge

Friday, April 1st 2005

GMail WAAAAY better

It looks like Google have done it again. That is, they have even further increased the uber-ness of their free e-mail service. Oh, if only all the millions of Hotmail users knew what they are missing. My girlfriend, for instance, is too stubborn to switch…

Among the important improvements this time around are:

  • Increased storage, which will be climbing slowly to 2 GB over the coming days.
  • Rich-text editing. It’s now possible to use fonts and colours in your g-mails – independant of which browser you’re using. (Hotmail and Yahoo!’s rich-text editing only works with Internet Explorer, probably due to the use of ActiveX.)

GMail is just so wonderful to use. If you want an invite, I’ve got about 49 to dish out. Send me an e-mail at d .(dot) naylor _a@t telia dott com.

Tuesday, March 22nd 2005

The Nice Aspects of Being a Firefox User

Through Slashdot I found this article at The Age. It’s very accurate and an interesting in-depth read on Firefox and open standards. It would be interesting to hear where they got the 40 million figure from though – Spreadfirefox.com hasn’t updated the counter for ages, and even though I read basically all the Mozilla blogs, I haven’t come across that figure anywhere.

Anyway, the article reminded me of all the nice and truly good things about Firefox:

  • Conforming to standards: By using a browser which follows the W3C standards and doesn’t make up standards of it’s own I am helping to move the web forward. The current technological grid-lock on the web wouldn’t have been at all as serious if IE6 had implemented the standards properly. (As I have previously written here, IE6 claims to comply with CSS1, but doesn’t.)
  • Security and privacy: Since I started using Firefox, I can’t remember having a single unwanted pop-up. Having seen the adware and spyware mess that infests computers on which IE6 is the mainly used browser, I know I am using a browser that stops that kind of junk in its tracks.
  • Efficiency: The tabs in Firefox together with the middle-click (or Ctrl-click) are huge time and annoyance savers. The default behaviour of Windows XP to group similar buttons in the taskbar makes web browsing with Internet Explorer into a full-blown IQ test. Trying to find the right window in the list that pops up when you click the Explorer taskbar-button is just such a pain – at least when you know how simple and swift a truly efficient web browsing user interface can be.

Well, those are the main points anyway. Then of course there are many nice little details, such as extensions and themes, too.

Thursday, March 17th 2005

Microsoft being Microsoft

At the beginning of March we could read the following at the IE Blog:

We know we have a lot more work to do in addressing our consistency issues with CSS and furthering our coverage of these standards. Expect to see more detail on our plans in IE7 in the future.

Now we can read that IE7 will (according to unofficial sources) not include full support for CSS2, just like IE6 doesn’t include full support for CSS1. (The IE team are claiming it does, but judging from how this CSS1 test page displays in IE6 it clearly doesn’t.)

So, congratulations all fellow website devs – we all just got another five years, or so, of hair-tearing and endless IE-hacking.

Update: I just found this petition asking the IE team to include (real?) standards support in IE7. I would probably have worded it slightly differently myself, but the basic message is there.

Update 2: Robert Scoble just wrote I’m also telling you that the support for standards is changing at Microsoft. Stay tuned. in the comments to his post about the Acid2 challenge.

Wednesday, March 16th 2005

Is Microsoft going to be good?

Hakon Wium Lie has written a great article for CNet which challenges Microsoft to live up to their claimed commitment to interoperable software.

Hakon proposes that the Web Standards Project hosts a test suite, named Acid2 (Acid was the nickname of one part of the CSS1 test suite over at W3C – have a look and you’ll see why), which will serve as a means of testing the capabilities of modern web browsers in general, and IE7 in particular.

I think this is a great initiative, and I think it’s good that it has been made in a forum which gets a certain amount of publicity, and that it was made by someone who knows what he’s talking about. Now it’s just a matter of convincing the IE devs that this is what we want.

Seriously. Making websites could be fun, all over again, if only all web browsers (hrrrk-hmm IE cough cough) would follow standards – and all the standards. So, I’d better get a-nattering over at the IE blog…

Tuesday, March 8th 2005

Browser Recognition of Statistics Services

Over the last few days, having had nothing better to do, I’ve investigated how well the main (free) website statistics services cope with browser recognition. The results of my testing are presented in this table.

The first step was to create a webpage containing all the counters to be studied. I started off with Nedstat Basic 3.0, Statcounter, OneStat Basic 3.0, eXTReMe Tracker, CQ Counter, S-Tracking, Site Meter, NextGenStats, WebCounter and PowerPhlogger. However, the last three turned out to be excruciatingly slow in updating the stats reports and I didn’t have the patience to sit and wait for them. They were excluded from the study, and I don’t feel it was a great loss since the quality in general of those services felt rather low. (WebCounter, for instance, was constantly trying to get you to pay for stuff even though this was supposedly a totally FREE sevice.) After publishing some preliminary results in the user forum at statcounter.com I was asked by David Smith to check out Site Meter too. (I later realized he is the creator of Site Meter.)

The results were collected by loading the counter page in one browser at a time and subsequently checking the browser reported by each stats service. Some services (NedStat, OneStat and CQ Counter) don’t show detailed information about each pageload, which means that I had to track the changes on the browser stats pages available.

For pageloads with non-Windows browsers (Safari, Camino and Konqueror) I received help from Jeff Pony, David Smith and Johann Petrak.

Interesting Findings

There weren’t any really big surprises. However, the myth that “many Opera users are detected as IE users” is at least killed, once and for all. (Opera’s default setting is to identify as IE, so as to prevent the user from unecessarily being locked-out by clueless webmasters.) The only statistics provider to be fooled by the Explorer spoofing is S-Tracking, who seldom (if ever?) drop browser figures on the world OneStat&WebSideStorystyle.

One noteworthy fact is that OneStat’s free stats service doesn’t discriminate between Firefox and the Mozilla Suite (or any other Moz browser for that matter). Yet they publish press releases which do (or look like they do). There are three possibilities here: Either (1) they exclude statistics from the free accounts in their press releases, (2) the browser stats in their press releases are seriously flawed, or (3) they actually count Firefox and Mozilla Suite seperately for the free counters too, but to make a paid upgrade seem worth-wile they don’t report them separately.

Netscape 8 beta had an interesting habit of importing the Firefox user agent string when importing other settings from said browser. The original string includes the information Firefox/0.9.6, which was exchanged for Firefox/1.0.1 after importing Firefox settings. As well as fixing this bug, Netscape need to produce a unique user agent string for the final release if they want to be visible in website stats at all.

Another slightly odd thing was that Site Meter sometimes claimed to be able to see more information in the user agent string than was actually there. One example was Netscape 8 beta in Internet Explorer rendering mode: the user agent string presented when calling navigator.userAgent using JavaScript was Mozilla/4.0 (compatible; MSIE 6.0; Windows NT 5.1), while Site Meter claimed it was Mozilla/4.0 (compatible; MSIE 6.0; Windows NT 5.1) NS8/0.9.6. I can only presume I am missing something here, so if you know – please contact me.

Conclusions

Statcounter is quite clearly king of browser recognition – it accurately reports even the minor versions of almost all browsers. The only thing holding it back from total perfection is that it doesn’t understand Mozilla Suite version numbers. Judging from this test and previous experience it seems like all Mozilla Suite 1.x versions are reported as version 5.0. (The user agent string of Mozilla Suite always begins with Mozilla/5.0.)

Worst of the pack is S-Tracking. For starters it’s the only service fooled by Opera’s user agent spoofing. It also puts all Mozilla-related browsers as well as Safari (!) into one category and simply calls them Netscape. However – because of this – it’s the only service that correctly identifies Netscape 8 beta. Impressive! 🙂

OneStat, which is a fairly popular website tracker, can probably be considered second last. Even if it seldom actually gets it wrong, it’s a pretty blunt tool. It groups all browsers into Microsoft Internet Explorer, Mozilla, Netscape Navigator (including Konqueror!), Opera and Apple (better known to us earthlings as Safari).

Tuesday, February 15th 2005

IE 7 beta to come this summer… yeah right!

It seems Microsoft are planning to release an IE7 beta for WinXP SP2 this summer. I must say it sounds very much like a ‘hang-in-there’ message to all the corporations out there thinking about switching to Firefox… After all the betas and delays, I would expect a final IE7 to be out no earlier than spring 2006, which isn’t much earlier than the planned release of Longhorn.

Reading the description of what is to come, IE7 sounds like little more than a glorified XP SP3.

Also, I believe “maintaining compatibility” is equal to (practiacally) not touching the rendering engine. So, don’t hold your breath for real CSS or PNG support…

Blake Ross of the Mozilla Foundation has produced an interesting time-line of recent events in the browser sphere.

Friday, December 3rd 2004

Germany on Fire!

Mozilla Europe has successfully published an ad for Firefox in FAZ, one of Germany’s largest papers according to Tristan Nitot. The concept of the ad is similar to what has been planned for the NYT Firefox ad. Spiegel Online has an informative article [translation] covering the push. They write (if I understand Google correctly) that the heading ‘Fire!’ is used in the meaning ‘Attack!’, as well as symbolizing the passion of Mozilla developers. Nice touch.

It’s great to see that these campaigns really are getting a lot of coverage around the world. I presume it’s quite possible that more people learn of Firefox through the secondary publicity an ad like this generates, than through the ad itself.