back to article What's in your toolbox? Why the browser wars are so last decade

Desktop browsers have reached a point where there isn't a huge amount of daylight between them. Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox and Opera are all on a pretty even playing field when it comes to features and speed. Safari and Internet Explorer lag a little bit when it comes to the bleeding edge of web standards because they …

  1. Paul Crawford Silver badge

    "The pressure to differentiate is more intense than ever"

    Really? So why is Firefox so keen to dump useful GUI stuff in order to look like Chrome?

  2. Jim 59

    Re: "The pressure to differentiate is more intense than ever"

    Don't say "Chrome", say "Iron". Iron = Chrome with stalkware stripped out.

  3. captain veg

    Re: "The pressure to differentiate is more intense than ever"

    Upvote from me, but strictly Iron is simply a Windows build of Chromium, and Chrome = Chromium with stalkware added in.

    -A.

  4. Valeyard

    IE

    One good feature of the newer IE dev tools i like is that I can make the browser emulate lower versions of IE, so I just need the one VM to test back to where we start supporting (Ideally I'd not open IE at all but at least this little detail makes it somewhat less cumbersome to test for)

    modern.ie supplies VMs to test on which is pretty cool, so it looks like they're trying to help testing, just not with anything particularly powerful or exciting (or with a decent browser)

  5. Caff

    Re: IE

    I like that at the bottom of the Irish domained modern.ie page it says "hello from seattle"

  6. Valeyard

    Re: IE

    hey all the best companies come from here, we're the silicon island, a hotbed of tech knowhow!!

    Apple, Yahoo, Google, facebook

    ;)

  7. Valeyard

    Re: IE

    apparently 1 thumb downer doesn't get the subtle hint that i'm irish.

  8. Bladeforce

    Re: IE

    "One good feature of the newer IE dev tools i like is that I can make the browser emulate lower versions of IE,"

    Why, oh why, oh why? Just drop it like a stone and be dragged into the 21st century for Gods sake

  9. big_D Silver badge

    Re: IE

    MS announced over 100 "fixes" to break standard compatibility on their IE11 for WindowsPhone, because it is too compliant. Allegedly a lot of mobile web developers are using WebKit only (i.e. non-standard) meta tags and the sites don't render properly on WP, so Update 1 brings the fixes to make it interpret the non-standard meta tags...

    It looks like what MS did in the 90s is coming back around and Webkit proprietary tag extensions are now the bane of other browser developers.

  10. Anonymous Bullard
    Thumb Up

    Re: IE

    > modern.ie supplies VMs to test

    And that's a god send. It's helped me to completely move to developing on Linux.

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Re: IE

    I've stopped testing in IE now. It's hardly used nowadays. I'll make it compliant with the current standards, and if IE doesn't like it: tough!

    If MS want to fix IE to make it work on my sites, they can fill their boots. With the burning hoops i've jumped through over the years to make something work with IE#, it's pay back time.

  12. big_D Silver badge

    Re: IE

    Hardly used? It has a larger market share than the other (desktop) browsers put together!

  13. Charlie Clark Silver badge

    Re: IE

    Allegedly a lot of mobile web developers are using WebKit only (i.e. non-standard) meta tags

    It's not really the meta-tags but prefixes in CSS. Prefixes were never really a good idea (because using them was laborious and error prone) though the idea behind was: provide working implementations of stuff under discussion. Prefixes are being replaced by allowing developers to switch support for experimental features on or off.

  14. Michael Habel Silver badge

    Re: IE

    hey all the best companies come from here, we're the silicon island, a hotbed of tech knowhow!!

    Yeah I'm sure that the Tax Breaks those Corporations receive for being in Ireland, have absolutely to do with 'em all wanting to be there...

  15. Michael Habel Silver badge

    Re: IE

    Hardly used? It has a larger market share than the other (desktop) browsers put together!

    Yes, but, ONLY in the Week following the Second Tuesday of any given Month....

  16. Valeyard

    Re: IE

    Yeah I'm sure that the Tax Breaks those Corporations receive for being in Ireland, have absolutely to do with 'em all wanting to be there...

    i've never been accused of subtle jokes before, but i think written communication robs something :(

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Re: IE

    Hardly used? It has a larger market share than the other (desktop) browsers put together!

    Really? http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Usage_share_of_web_browsers

    - There is only 1 source that backs up your claim, and their stats are skewed beyond reality. They are a Microsoft gold partner, they receive money from MS, they don't publicise their data sources, only that they use weighting rather than actual numbers.

    - Don't use the straw-man of pre-rendering, that (and bots) are not counted.

    - You tried to validate your statement with "desktop". Desktops are dwindling (apparently, I haven't seen that).

    Each version of IE renders differently. To me, they're separate browsers in the "Others" category.

    Just like the old days when IE peaked, I'm not wasting my time on the sub-10% browsers that are not improving or gaining. Shit happens.

    I'll make my site standards compliant - if you don't like that IE can't render it properly, then use a standards compliant browser or wait for MS to fix it. Not me.

  18. Stevie Silver badge

    Re: Really?

    The stats on that Wikipedia page do not refute the statement made (on my reading of it), though they do suggest it is inaccurate.

    The 'fine print' clauses on the Wikipedia page are illuminating.

    Thanks for the link.

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Big Brother

    Re: IE

    "Unfortunately somebody has already registered this domain name by proving their claim to the name and their connection with Ireland. Please search again for a different domain name." ref

    domain: modern.ie

    descr: Microsoft Corporation

    descr: Body Corporate (Ltd,PLC,Company)

  20. Pez92

    Re: IE

    Although it is good that they make it easier to support the older versions, that's a problem they created for themselves in the first place. The other browsers simply prompt and allow users to update their browser so that developers don't have to put in extra work to support an inferior and outdated product.

  21. Saint Gerbil
    Coat

    Re: IE

    Must be hosted here:

    https://www.google.co.uk/maps/place/Seattle,+Mayorstone+Dr,+Mayorstone,+Limerick,+Ireland/@52.6572862,-8.6510715,13z

  22. ilithium

    Browser emulator

    You forgot Chrome's browser emulator, which allows you to switch between desktop and mobile views pretty easily.

  23. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Re: Browser emulator

    I don't think the author actually looked for things like this, just assumed that since last time they checked a few years back it didn't exist, so it won't exist now. Many of the things found in Chrome / Firefox are also present in IE's dev tools, but it's obvious he's not tested them, just writing them off with a "not updated often enough" as some kind of excuse.

  24. Brewster's Angle Grinder Silver badge

    Re: Browser emulator

    And simulate touch events.

  25. auburnman

    Re: Browser emulator

    To be fair if I had to review browsers, I too would skip actually using IE if I had any chance to get away with it.

  26. big_D Silver badge

    Re: Browser emulator

    That would be a shame, IE 11 has come a long way...

    I still wouldn't use it as my main browser, but the bad old days are gone - and if you use a Windows tablet, then you pretty much have to use IE, Chrome is dreadful in "Modern" mode for touch and Mozilla abadoned making Firefox touch friendly before it got to the first release...

    I use it as my main browser on my tablet, but I still do sensitive stuff and exploring new sites in Firefox (NoScript and Flashblock) and Firefox is still my main browser on my normal PCs.

  27. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Re: Browser emulator

    If you're reviewing browsers for developer, then there's no point even thinking about IE.

  28. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Re: Browser emulator

    > I too would skip actually using IE

    Why? I hardly have any experience with it, being a Linux / KDE type, but the few times I've used it, it annoyed me a lot less than Firefox, which has gone from being a fine browser to an utter piece of wank.

    Development tools aside, we were told we couldn't get a download progress bar "because that belonged in a plug-in", yet the sorry shit's got Twatter, Farcebook, and ObscureSocialThingMeToo integration right in the core.

    The Mozilla Foundation is not that different from a normal software company, except that as many "non-profits", management is some of the most incompetent people out there (out-incompetenced only by Wikimedia Foundation, I believe) so they're driving their star product into the ground, while neglecting their other stuff, such as Thunderbird.

    If there was a Linux version of IE, I'd fucking use it.

  29. DPWDC

    Re: Browser emulator

    "If you're reviewing browsers for developer, then there's no point even thinking about IE."

    As the actress said to the bishop...

    Come again!?

    Making IE render correctly for corporate customers pretty much REQUIRES using IE dev tools.

  30. Anonymous Bullard

    Re: Browser emulator

    > If there was a Linux version of IE, I'd fucking use it.

    That's a bit like a man telling a woman giving birth: "If only I could go through that pain for you instead..."

    You know it's not going to happen.

  31. captain veg

    Re: Browser emulator

    > You know it's not going to happen.

    It might. (Cough) Wine (cough).

    -A.

  32. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Re: Browser emulator

    > corporate customers pretty much REQUIRES using IE dev tools.

    That's a good reason why I develop for the open web.

    The majority of corporate developers I've worked with are so lame it's untrue*. There are exceptions, but finding them when trying to hire is difficult (current situation).

    *[If I offended you, you're probably one of them]

  33. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Re: Browser emulator -IE 11 has come a long way.

    Was it Mao or someone else who said "We have come from very far and we have very far to go"?

    It's generally assumed he was referring to communism, but I think that IE was intended.

  34. Greg J Preece

    Re: Browser emulator

    Development tools aside, we were told we couldn't get a download progress bar "because that belonged in a plug-in", yet the sorry shit's got Twatter, Farcebook, and ObscureSocialThingMeToo integration right in the core.

    Sorry, what? This is Firefox? I'm in it right now and downloads are under an icon to the right of the URL bar, with progress displayed just fine. And I haven't seen Facebook or Twitter any time other than when I request them as URLs. What are you on about?

    Incidentally, KDE Linux here also, as well as Win8.1 and OSX Lion. Never seen what you're talking about in any Firefox version. Personally, I just removed three more add-ons from Firefox because their functionality had been built into core, so the trend for me is in the opposite direction to what you describe.

  35. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Re: Browser emulator

    > I'm in it right now and downloads are under an icon to the right of the URL bar

    Eventually they condescendingly acceded to that... in version 24 I think? Soit dit en passant, every modern desktop has got a standard mechanism for reporting download progress... does Firefox use it? No, it doesn't. Apparently it's something to do with "maintaining a consistent look across platforms", i.e., sticking out like a sore thumb in all of them.

    > I haven't seen Facebook or Twitter any time other than when I request them as URLs

    Google "Firefox Services", or just read the release notes for recent versions.

    Or you may also try this: find one of those little Twitter "buttons" on any webpage (El Reg has them) and right click on it. Look for the additional context menu options.

  36. Greg J Preece

    Re: Browser emulator

    Eventually they condescendingly acceded to that... in version 24 I think?

    Right, and before that downloads were in a separate window, which I thought was irritating so I installed a plugin that moved it to a tab. Still had full progress reporting though. I can't recall ever using a version of firefox that didn't show me download progress.

  37. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    IDEs

    In effect, we're returning to the 1980s personal computer model - the user interface is also the IDE. Perhaps Chrome OS is onto something.

  38. roselan

    Re: IDEs

    Depending on the customer i use eclipse, vs, sharpdevelop, netbeans, cloud9, sublime+plugins as ide, with svn, git, and whatever "pattern" they came up with one day.

    FF/chrome allow you to test stuff in context, and fiddle with it.

    If it runs in FF/chrome, these tools are available. No need to wait for a system/file right, firewall rule, svn update, whatever.

    These tools are for fiddling, bug hunting/understanding and prototyping. If you start to do "real" development with them, well, I wish you good luck sir...

    moreover, these 80' tools you speak about, i know them (oh can i forget). Depending on the user you logged in with, you were in dev mode or user mode. These wtf generators have, imo, nothing todo with modern stuff, which expose internals, so you understand what happens.

    On the same vein, there are "simple" online webeditor, or even confulence wiki that use the same tool for usage and admin. And what about jsfiddle, and other online ide, that use the client as an editor for another language?

  39. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Re: IDEs

    That's a lot of bloatware.

    Real men just use Vim and Terminator.

  40. big_D Silver badge

    Re: IDEs

    The author also didn't mention Lynx...

  41. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Re: IDEs

    > Real men just use Vim and Terminator.

    REAL men use ed(1).

  42. Wibble

    Re: IDEs

    So IE users use edlin?

  43. Displacement Activity

    Re: IDEs

    REAL men didn't stop learning how to do new things 20 years ago.

  44. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Re: IDEs

    > REAL men didn't stop learning how to do new things 20 years ago.

    REAL men were born knowing everything.

  45. Stuart Moore

    Re: IDEs

    REAL men whistle down the telephone line to edit files

  46. Solmyr ibn Wali Barad

    Re: IDEs

    REAL men have a look on the files, which makes them to edit themselves.

  47. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Fiddler2 is a useful tool

    That is all

  48. Adam 1 Silver badge

    Re: Fiddler2 is a useful tool

    It is very useful, but now it is owned by teleric it is only a matter of time before it is EA-ified.

  49. roselan
    Paris Hilton

    "personally, I think the answer is both."

    no no no!

    This is absolutely not personal!

  50. Fihart

    Wrong platform.

    Having used most browsers for the desktop I'd agree that they are, mostly, functionally identical.

    So let's have an article that compares mobile browsers -- currently my Blackberry (OS6) native browser crashes out on some pages and Opera Mini doesn't but is maddening to use.

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