I just got hold of a 12″ PowerBook G4, so I can test co.mments with Safari. (I might post my Mac impressions some other time)
Turns out there’s a slight nuance between Safari and Konqueror, even though they’re both based on KHTML. So testing with one doesn’t mean it works with the other. Events are not captured exactly the same way, and in one case Safari was the only browser to capture an event using the body element.
It also turns out Safari (and possibly Camino) is sensitive to the meta-key. During testing, I realized that clicking Cmd-R deletes a conversation instead of refreshing the page. Oops. (Thankfully, that code never lasted on the live server) I never tested with the meta-key on Windows/Linux, and IE doesn’t even support that property.
So as of today, I’m testing co.mments with:
- Firefox 1.5 (my main browser)
- IE 6 (the other browser)
- Safari 2.0
- Konqueror 3.5
- Opera 8.5
- Lynx 2.8
That’s a lot of little nuances that require a lot of testing to make sure the service behaves the same way regardless of which browser you use.
Multiply that by the number of developers out there trying to get their site, library or script working with more than one browser. How much time and energy is wasted on that? Are we getting anything in return?
Truth be told, I’m only testing co.mments with IE, Safari and Opera. Firefox is my main browser, I practically live in it. Konqueror is “Explorer for Linux”, and once in a while I browse with it.
Lynx is an oddity from the past, I started using it because it’s the only browser I can run on the server. Then I realized why Lynx is important. Accessibility. Any site you can easily use with Lynx is pretty accessible. Sure, co.mments has a lot of nice AJAX transitions that make it productive and fun. But it’s also reasonably accessible.
I don’t care for IE. It’s too damn painful to use, it feels like driving an old beat up car that doesn’t start on cold days. I just had to reboot today when IE refused to open.Opera impresses me. Its UI is a cut above the rest, it looks amazing, and it’s ahead on useability. If you want to know where Firefox/IE/Safari are going, check out Opera. It introduces tabs, it has a good feed reader, a note taker, and a lot of nice touchups. I love the trashcan metaphor, that’s the only reason I ever use the misnamed history window in other browsers.
It’s a great little browser, too bad it’s not widely supported.
Safari is a mystery to me. It’s sexy, easy to use, fast and pretty much matches Firefox in the UI department. But it’s not better than Firefox or Opera, not widely supported, just another browser. Did Apple really need its very own browser? Is that serving it’s users?
Then there’s Firefox. At least with co.mments users, it’s a close match to IE, judging by traffic. Perhaps because I use it a lot, I know it can get sluggish, eat up memory, and randomly crash. It’s easy to criticize. The UI is not better than Opera or Safari, and it does have annoying quirks.
But none of that matters.
Firefox is almost universally supported, and has a boatload of extensions.
When I use Firefox with GMail, I get full HTML editing and in-place chat courtesy of Google, an extension that notifies me of new e-mails, and a greasemonkey scripts for powerful keyboard shortcuts. That combination makes it better than Outlook or Thunderbird.
And that’s just one example. It’s my e-mail client and chat client. I use it to write posts, read feeds, manage my todos. It notifies me of the weather, and upcoming appointments. It a search engine, a dictionary and translator, a notetaker all rolled in one. I could spend a day researching stuff, writing down ideas, talking to others, all without ever leaving Firefox.
IE, Opera and Safari could all compete for title of the best browser. But half my operating system runs on Firefox.
I started this post ranting about the waste of testing with too many browsers, digressed a lot, and concluded that in the end, only one of them really matters.