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Why Gecko Doesn't Matter Yet

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In: Articles

By Glenn Davis

Published on February 7, 2001

Standards support is a wonderful dream. But in this day it is still just that, a dream. It's a dream yet that Gecko will make a difference. It's got too much of a market share to gain and that market share that it doesn't have is populated fully with non-standards browsers.

Suppose Gecko was released tomorrow. Will you code for it? If so then we can expect to make quite a commitment in extra time coding our sites. We'll have a choice to make. Code for standards and let everyone else suffer? Code for three different doms? (IE DOM, NN4 DOM, W3C DOM) Whoa, talk about a workload.

Gecko, if it gains any significant marketshare soon, will NOT make the lives of web designers easier. It will instead make their lives harder until such a day, if it ever comes, in which other browsers also support the same standards.

Sure we can look at things like MacIE and say that standards support is getting better. Well the majority of users out there won't be using MacIE. And still yet, where are the rest of the standards support? It only has a partial W3C DOM implementation. Where's the rest?

Opera? I'm still unsure what improvements are slated for their 4.0 browser. They seem to have no information on their website about it other than to offer a download of the beta 1 product. I don't need more beta software yet so I've not downloaded it to see if there's any information on what they plan to support in the download. But their 3.x product is still a 3.0 browser.

I think though that the browsers are not the biggest hurdle. I think the biggest hurdle we face is ourselves as web designers. It's 2000 and how many times do we still hear designers complaining about the rendering differences between browser and browser and platform and platform? How many designers still yet clamor for pixel perfect control?

The web has been and always will be a mutable medium. With HTML and associated entities like CSS and XML we'll never get pixel perfect control across all circumstances. That thought needs to be let go of. And once we let go of that then we'll be able to pick one browser as our working browser for development. Then, after we've created our masterworks we can load up another browser and see what compromises we might need to look at to make it acceptable to the users of that browser. Then we let go of it. No coding myriad workarounds to get it "just so."

If we can do that, and select the best starting point for our work, then standards might stand a better chance. Because the smart thing will be for us to work from the most standards compliant browser we can get our hands on. And hopefully that will send a message to the other browser vendors as more and more things show up that are better and better in one, but though still acceptable in the other. But first we have to learn to let go. Let go of the idea that we'll ever have pixel perfect control over a webpage and instead become masters of this most mutable medium.

Glenn Davis
Former CTO Project Cool, Inc.
Loud Mouthed Schnook - DevX.com

This article was originally posted on A List Apart, posting #220

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