Just found an extremely interesting video where Mozilla’s Aza Raskin explains how they are thinking of the future of the web.
Wednesday, October 28th 2009
Just found an extremely interesting video where Mozilla’s Aza Raskin explains how they are thinking of the future of the web.
Wednesday, October 14th 2009
Visitors using IE6 are shown a pretty box at the top of the page, suggesting the visitor upgrades to IE8 or installs Firefox, Chrome or Safari. As usual, poor Opera are left out of the fun.
Opera is still among the supported browsers though:
We should do something similar at ekuriren.se. Heard my boss thinking aloud about perhaps suggesting Firefox, but then I believe IE6 is already as low as one or two percent!
Tuesday, September 29th 2009
Before I understood how this was meant to work, i thought
Wow! Google are going to rid the web of Internet Explorer! My happiness soon came to a screeching halt though.
If we ignore all the difficulties of making Chrome’s rendering engine (Webkit) play nicely with the Internet Explorer interface, there is one fundamental problem that stops Chrome Frame from becoming the web saviour that everyone was hoping for.
The problem that Chrome Frame aims to fix – the large user base of Internet Explorer coupled with its stone-age rendering engine – exists mainly due to lack of knowledge.
People who keep using Internet Explorer do so largely because they don’t know about the alternatives, or what a huge problem IE is for web developers.
The number of IE users who have made a conscious decision to stick with IE, but still are knowledgeable enough to understand the benefits of a modern rendering engine, can probably be counted on a few thousand left hands.
So, along comes Chrome Frame. But, the essential factor knowledge is just as lacking now as it has been before. Chrome Frame still requires IE users to knowingly install it, which I really can’t see happening.
However, Google may have another card up their sleve. A card known by the name Google Wave.
Google Wave is, drasticly simplified, a replacement for e-mail. It is an online tool for communication and sharing. Now this sounds like something we’ve all heard a million times before. It isn’t.
Anyway, Google have given up on trying to get Wave working properly in Internet Explorer. Wave relies heavily on modern standards, and IE is just too far behind. Instead, Google Wave will ask IE users to install the plug-in Chrome Frame. Or another browser.
If Google Wave catches on properly it may well give IE users a healthy nudge in the direction of better browsers and/or Chrome Frame. And having seen the demo of Wave, I think it may very well become the next big thing.
However, having followed the browser market for ten years or so, I’ve seen how slowly it shifts. I doubt Chrome Frame and/or Wave will introduce any dramatic changes.
Thursday, September 24th 2009
This, my friends, is development:
In one year …
*) This chart beautifully illustrates the efficiency of Firefox’s automatic update system compared to that of Internet Explorer (Windows Update). Firefox 3.5 has got further in three months than IE8 has in 6!! It wouldn’t surprise me if the Firefox 3.5 update is the fastest ever in the history of software, measured in number of users per time.
If we take a step back and look at the global numbers, things aren’t quite as rosy. But everything is still moving in the right direction:
Obviously, all these numbers are all according to Statcounter only. NetApplications numbers tend to show Firefox at slightly numbers. The trends are essentially the same, and the Statcounter graph tool is so much nicer to use.
Friday, July 3rd 2009
I was one of many who was fooled into installing some version of Microsoft’s .NET runtime which installed an annoying extension into Firefox. It was annoying because it couldn’t be uninstalled. What’s wrong with you people at Microsoft?
After searching around I found a way of getting rid of the extension. But yesterday I realized that the extension had added a bit about .NET to Firefox’s user agent string.
So, how to get rid of it? Quite easily it turns out:
Tuesday, June 30th 2009
Firefox 3.5 has been released today. Many improvements over 3.0. Faster, better privacy options, better standards support. Get it now.
Thursday, May 14th 2009
At the end of March, we launched a new version of our website at Eskilstuna-Kuriren, ekuriren.se. We replaced our ancient content manger with a new, modern, flexible system known as Polopoly. Polopoly is developed in Sweden and used by many of the large Swedish news sites.
The launch went smoothly, but soon we started getting e-mail upon e-mail from users about speed problems. After a while it turned out that many Internet Explorer users were having huge problems both loading the page and scrolling the page.
Apparently, when loading the website in Internet Explorer it can sometimes make the whole computer slow down to a halt, forcing a hard reboot. If you manage to load the page, it can scroll painfully slowly.
Obviously, this mainly shows that the site hasn’t been properly tested. A huge majority of our visitors use Internet Explorer. Or at least they used to. Perhaps the percentage has gone down now, from people simply giving up on us. It truly amazes me how the developers still haven’t properly managed to sort out the performance issues. They have supposedly been working on this from day one, which is almost two months back now.
While I still haven’t actually heard a precise technical explanation of what the problem is, this experience shows in a very tangible way how big a difference there is between Internet Explorer and the more modern browsers when it comes to speed. Whether it is the scripting engine or the rendering engine or something else that is causing the problems for Internet Explorer users I don’t know.
What I do know is that we simply haven’t had a single complaint about performance from Firefox or Safari users.
Here’s to hoping that the site admins get the issues sorted as soon as possible and that all browsers will be able to display our news site without the user suffering serious illnesses from frustration.
Thursday, May 7th 2009
After finishing my slight redesign here I found that IE8 made a complete mess of it. Turned out of course that I had forgotten to change the doctype into something other than XHTML Strict, which IE still doesn’t understand.
I went with the nice, simple HTML 5 doctype, which seems to be the best option:
That was all that was necessary and now, miraculously, my blog looks … decent in IE8! Looks like it has finally understood my max-width rules as well! Amazing stuff.
Thursday, May 7th 2009
Well, this is the new modified design. Nice and tight and snug! Obviously the font size in the left column isn’t web 2.0 compliant, but you can’t get everything.
For comparison, here’s a screenshot of what it used to look like:
So what has changed? To start with I removed a couple of things from the right column and moved what was left to the left column. Then I made the left column quite a bit tighter to allow for 1024 px images in my posts. I tried to use a sans-serif in the left column but the combination looked really weird.
I decided to revert my choice to use a downloaded font, for two reasons: A, i find Georgia is actually prettier than Dustismo and B, I don’t really like how Firefox 3.5 (beta) deals with downloaded fonts at the moment.
Firefox will display the page with the fall-back font first, and then redraw the page when the @font-face font is downloaded. This behaviour is annoying when viewing the page – Safari does this much better. Safari simply waits with displaying the text until the font is downloaded.
While I was fiddling with the design I decided to remove the alternate stylesheets for a slight simplicity win.
I have considered implementing columns in my posts, but I’ll need to think that through properly first.
Edit: Argh!! Internet Explorer 8, supposedly CSS 2 compliant, messes the design up completely. I’ll have to look into that some other time.
Wednesday, April 22nd 2009
I decided to play around with web fonts and came across dafont.com. They have a great selection of high quality free fonts.
I found Dustismo Roman which I’ve now decided to use on this blog. Anyone using the upcoming Firefox 3.5 or Safari 3.1 will be able to see it. Everyone else will see Georgia, which also is a nice font.
By using @font-face rules in your CSS code, you can use any font you like! I.e. you aren’t limited to the system fonts that are common to Mac and Windows. Read more about web fonts here.
Monday, March 30th 2009
The browsers I’m comparing are …
I compared the browsers on five different sites / web pages:
Let’s just get straight to the results. I’ll go through my methods later.
In the graph above, the average page-load times for all five web pages have been added together, as have the 95% confidence intervals. All in all, this graph is based on 500 page loads.
Chrome and Firefox are tied for first place – their confidence intervals overlap. Safari and Internet Explorer are tied for third, and Opera is fifth.
For each combination of browser and web site I did a total of 20 page-loads. I measured one web page at a time, working my way through the five browsers.
Since network traffic and page weight can vary over time, I did them in two sets of ten measurements. First I did ten measurements with the browsers in one order: A, B, C, D and E. Then I did ten measurements in the opposite order, starting with browser E. I also rotated the five browsers between A, B, C, D and E for the five different web pages.
Before timing the page-loads, I shift+reloaded (or the equivalent ctrl+reload in IE) the web page ten times to saturate any network cache and to get the browser
warmed up. I did this for each browser, before each set of ten measurements. (Ten reloads might sound excessive, but I started off doing only three, which turned out to be too little to reach the shortest load times.)
Between each page-load I cleared all browser data (cookies, cache, etc.). Except for Facebook, where I kept cookies and secure sessions to be able to time the Facebook home page when logged in.
This test showed that Google Chrome 2 beta is not 100% stable. It hung twice (in 100 page loads) and produced load times of over 30 seconds. I decided to remove these values and replace them with new ones.
In these graphs, each bar shows the average of 20 page-loads. The error bars represent 95% confidence intervals.
For youtube.com, Firefox and Chrome are tied for first. Safari and Internet Explorer are tied for third. Opera is last.
The Facebook home page loads fastest in Firefox and Chrome, whose confidence intervals only just overlap. The other three browsers are significantly separated.
Msn.com: Chrome and Internet Explorer are tied for first. Firefox and Safari are tied for third. Opera is last, again.
I decided to test the browsers on a long Wikipedia article with lots of images. I looked up Munich, which turned out to be a good candidate.
Chrome and Firefox are tied for first place. Safari is third, Opera fourth and IE fifth.
Finally, ebay.com: Chrome, IE and Firefox are all tied for first place. Safari is tied with Firefox but slower than Chrome and IE. Opera is last.
Chrome sucks web pages off the Internet like an Electrolux. So does Firefox. In this test I haven’t managed to separate them significantly. As we all can see, Chrome has a lower average sum than Firefox, and perhaps with more data it would be possible to separate them statistically.
Opera is the slowest of the lot, which surprises me. Opera was also slowest in the start-up test. Perhaps though we should cut it some slack – it’s labelled alpha after all. Performance might improve when it reaches beta and final status. Opera also has a turbo feature in the works, but that is kind of cheating since it will lower image quality by tougher compression.
Obviously, this test could be made better in mainly two ways. I could test on more web sites, and I could do more page loads for each web site. But this test was, all in all, 500 timed page-loads and 500 non-timed page-loads. It took me more than a day to complete.
It’s also worth noting that this test is pretty much consistent with Betanews’ page load test, where Chrome 2 beta wins and Firefox 3.1 beta 3 is second.
This test was done with clean browser cache. I’m considering doing the same test but without clearing cache and cookies for each page load. After all, that’s how most page loads are done in the real world. A user who visits any of these five sites will most likely have been there many, many times before. I just need to figure out a good set-up for such a test.
Thursday, March 26th 2009
I was writing yesterday about perhaps doing a page-load test with the latest browsers. Minutes after posting I saw that Betanews already did one.
To cut a long story short: Chrome 2 beta wins, Firefox 3.1 beta 3 is second, Safari 4 beta is third and Internet Explorer 8 is fourth.
Compare that with Microsoft’s own test where (surprisingly!) Internet Explorer 8 wins, basically testing the same sites as betanews.
I might try to do test all the same though, for fun. And because more tests give a more complete picture of reality.
Wednesday, March 25th 2009
A few days ago I compared the four different releases of Firefox for start-up time (cold and warm) and page loading time. It got quite a lot of attention so today I decided to compare the five latest preview releases from the big five:
This time I did things a little more scientifically, following Justin’s suggestion in the comments. I made a batch file for each browser to print the exact time, then launch the browser, opening a page with a script showing the exact time again. The time difference equals the launching time.
It should be noted that this method requires me to opt out of Chrome’s default “new tab” page, with suggested sites. If this affects the results in any real way is unknown, but personally I doubt it. The new tab page in Chrome loads very quickly.
Cold start-ups (directly after booting your computer) are the ones that can feel like an eternity some times. For that reason I think it is more important to have a fast cold start-up than a relatively speaking fast warm one (which generally are about 5-10 times faster anyway). So let’s start with cold start-ups.
I did ten measurements for each browser. A fairly big sample size which gives tiny 99% confidence intervals, which are visible in the graph below.
IE8 is the winner here (2.40 secs), slightly faster than Chrome (2.66 secs). All browsers are, with a 99% probability, significantly different (none are tied). However, this comparison was done on my Windows (XP) computer so IE8 has an unfair advantage – who knows how large part of Internet Explorer is pre-loaded with the operating system? That makes Chrome’s performance all the more impressive.
Safari is marginally faster than Firefox (4.98 vs 5.19 secs). Surprisingly, Opera (7.14 secs) is roughly two seconds slower than Firefox and Safari. I actually thought it would be at least as fast.
Now let’s have a look at warm start-up times. I launched the browsers four times before starting the timing. Then I did 15 measurements for each browser.
Here, Chrome is in a league of its own with an average of 0.247 secs. Firefox and Opera are tied. They took on average 0.530 and 0.531 secs respectively, and their confidence intervals overlap. IE8 averaged 0.575 seconds and Safari came in last with 0.617 seconds.
Chrome impresses the most, even if IE8 launches slightly faster after reboot. Firefox and Safari are pretty similar, while Opera clearly is the slowest for cold start-ups.
These results really explain (and justify) Chrome’s good reputation for speed.
I’m curious if the differences are as large when it comes to page-loading. I’m planning on doing such a comparison too, I just need to work out a good solid method. So stay tuned if you like this kind of stuff.
Monday, March 23rd 2009
Firefox 3 is quickly becoming the most popular browser in Europe. At the moment StatCounter shows it to be just a about half a percentage point below Internet Explorer 7.
Above is a graph showing what has happened since July 2008. Within one or a couple of weeks now, Firefox 3 should have passed IE7. This can be compared to North America where IE7 still has roughly twice as many users as Firefox 3. (Let’s not talk about Asia, where IE6 still is king.)
Saturday, March 21st 2009
Just in from the insane-browser-prophecies department:
Despite the fact it’s not really ready for human consumption, Chrome has won. Firefox is already dead. The only way the situation can be altered is for Mozilla to slam on the brakes, lean out of the window of the truck, apologize for going the wrong way, and turn around. But that’s unimaginable.
Well, that will only be true if all Firefox users migrate to Chrome. Why would they do that? Chrome does not provide any advantages that seem significant enough for a long-time Firefox user to switch.
If you consider how many Firefox users that have special extensions installed the above scenario seems even more unlikely. Even if Chrome did have equivalents for all the Firefox extensions, it doesn’t provide enough benefits to motivate the hassle of swapping out Firefox.
And what has Mozilla to apologise for? Ripping up Microsoft’s monopoly? Opening the doors for standards based coding?
Kier and others are making out that Firefox has become bloated and slow. So I decided to do a quick comparison of the different releases of Firefox on my four year old AMD 3200+ Windows XP PC.
I installed Firefox 1.0.8, Firefox 18.104.22.168, Firefox 22.214.171.124 and Firefox 3.0.7.
I set up a clean profile for each version and set them to open a blank page by default. Then I made sure to close all other programs and launched each version of Firefox five times in a row, timing the launches with a stopwatch. (From hitting Enter to seeing the big white browser window.) And then I repeated the whole process so I got ten values for each browser.
I tested my reaction time which was 0.23 seconds on average and subtracted this from all the measured times.
So here is a visual comparison of the launch time for the different versions of Firefox since 1.0 (averages of ten measurements):
Firefox 1 took just over 0.5 seconds on average. Firefox 3 takes 0.6 seconds. That’s a difference of 0.1 seconds on a four year old system. On a newer system the difference will be even smaller.
I also tested the cold launch times, by rebooting windows between each startup. These are averages of five start-ups:
Here the pattern is the opposite. Firefox 2 launches faster than 1.5 which launches faster than 1.0. Firefox 3 launches slightly slower than version 2 but is still a few seconds better than version 1 and 1.5.
I also tested average page loading times for DN.se, a fairly heavy page with plenty of Flash and images.
Again I did five measurements for each version. Then I repeated the procedure, just to make sure no version was being helped by network caching. (I also loaded the page a few times before starting the test to make sure no browser was disadvantaged by being first.)
Between each page load I cleared all history, browser cache and cookies. So these values should be pretty representative for
cold page load times for pages with plenty of images and Flash.
So, Firefox 3 takes roughly 20 percent longer to launch than Firefox 1 for warm starts, which equals at most one or a few tenths of a second. For cold starts (first start after booting your computer) Firefox 3 launches about 30 percent faster than Firefox 1. Also, each page load in Firefox 3 is probably saving you several seconds compared to Firefox 1.
So could someone explain to me how Firefox 3 is bloated? Is Firefox bloated because it lets you find visited pages easily from the location bar? Is it bloated because it has an industry leading automatic update system? Because it lets you rearrange tabs as you like, because it passes the Acid2 test or because it can remember your tabs from session to session?
Yes, Firefox has added many features since version 1.0. But it just hasn’t gotten bloated in the sense of unnecessary features that get in the user’s way.
Quite the opposite is true in fact. The Firefox developers have thoughtfully added many capabilities to Firefox without forcing mums and grannies to jump through hoops when they want to go on-line. At the same time they have made it load web pages much faster, and cold starts are much quicker. Warm starts are marginally slower.
Friday, March 20th 2009
Microsoft boldly claims …
We believe that IE8 has the first complete implementation of CSS 2.1 in the industry and it is fully compliant with the current CSS 2.1 test suite.
Now, correct me if I’m wrong, but don’t the following CSS 2.1 tests look very much like fails in IE8 (and Firefox btw):
As I said, if I have misunderstood something, like for instance if the above tests aren’t considered part of the CSS 2.1 test suite, or if they for some reason should be ignored, do correct me. But if not, it seems like Microsoft are somewhat exaggerating IE8’s capabilities in the CSS 2.1 area.
Edit: Removed a few of the tests which turned out to be fails because I had ClearType activated.
Edit 2: Arron Eicholz of Microsoft has explained to me that the above fails are due to faulty tests. That would explain why Firefox also fails them.
Thursday, March 12th 2009
Edit: I just added the data from my previous test for the non-Firefox browsers, for comparison. I also made a nice new graph.
To make the two benchmarks more comparable I’ve normalized the scores (inverting the time data from Sunspider, turning it into speed). The winner of each benchmark is given 100 and the others are given relative scores.
And here is the raw data (averages for three runs):
(lower is better)
(higher is better)
|Firefox 3.1 b2||1,737ms||133|
|Firefox 3.1 b3||2,150ms||201|
|Opera 10 a||6,188ms||137|
|IE 8 rc1||7,994ms||47|
|Safari 4 b||1,633ms||1,056|
That’s pretty weird stuff. Beta 3 runs the V8 benchmark 51% faster than beta 2. But it chugs through the Sunspider benchmark 19% slower. (Or taking 24% longer, if you wish … 2150/1737 = 1.238 and 1/1.238 = 1-0.192)
Does anyone happen to know why this is the case? Was this a strategic move from the Firefox developers? I mean, did they introduce this slight performance regression knowingly, intending to fix it for final release?
Saturday, March 7th 2009
The tested browsers are (all on Windows XP):
So, lets get straight to the results:
As you can see, I have normalized all the results for both tests so that the winner of each test gets exactly 100. This is to make a comparison possible between the two benchmarks.
I ran all benchmarks three times in each browser to get more reliable averages.
Safari and Chrome are as tied as can be. They both get a total score of 193. Opera and Internet Explorer are both a lot slower than the two winners, with 38 and 24 respectively.
The interesting thing is that Firefox does so well with SunSpider (93), and so poorly with V8 (12). What is the big difference between these benchmarks? Not that I’d understand it if someone explained it to me …
Wednesday, March 4th 2009
Statcounter have just launched a tool for graphing their global web traffic statistics.
The interesting thing is that it puts Firefox at around 28 percent right now, while NetApplications measures Firefox to be roughly 21 percent.
I’m guessing that Statcounter to a greater extent is used by individuals on blogs and smaller websites than NetApplications measured sites. The personal sites get more visitors using their home computers where they to a higher degree use Firefox (than at work).
Statcounter says Internet Explorer has a mere 63 percent, which equals 2.25 IE users per Firefox user. Pretty cool how much has changed since 2004.
Slowly but surely.