Open Source Web Browsers Taking Bite Out of Windows IE

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As more and more users renounce the security-risk beleagured Internet Explorer, and move to open source web browsers such as Firefox, Microsoft is starting to feel the pinch.

As a result, Explorer has slipped from a previous lofty 95% marketshare to below 93%. While this may seem like a tiny change in percentage, it means that at least 10million users have jumped from Explorer to some flavour of open source web browser. (For Microsoft’s take on the open source movement, see here – Aunty does seem to have cause to link to that article a lot lately, doesn’t she?)

What this means to web developers of course is that they have to take even greater pains to make sure that their web sites work with and look good in several different types of browsers. No longer is it safe to check your site with the “top” one or two browsers, as your site will be visited by several different browsers, and each in sufficient numbers as to make it prudent to not neglect those browsers’ viewing perspective.

There is at least one site out there, which allows you to see how your site looks in several different browsers, however it’s not a commercial site and it is often overloaded.

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One thought on “Open Source Web Browsers Taking Bite Out of Windows IE

  1. Of course, most browsers out there today fall into one of four categories:

    1. IE-based — and there are so many variations between, say, IE 5 for Windows, IE 5 for Mac, and IE 6 for Windows that they may as well be different browsers as far as testing is concerned.
    2. Gecko-based — that’s Firefox, Mozilla, Camino, modern Netscape, etc. For the most part, these will all work the same.
    3. KHTML-based — Safari, OmniWeb and Konqueror. There were some major fixes between the Jaguar and Panther versions of Safari, and IIRC OmniWeb is still based on the older one, but these can be taken as a group as well.
    4. Opera

    (And yes, I’m ignoring the ancient Netscape 4 and IE 4.)

    I’ve found that generally, if you use standards-based techniques (A List Apart is a great source for these) and do your main testing in a Mozilla-based browser, 95%+ will either work perfectly or display OK in Safari, Opera, etc., and 80-90% of it will work in IE. It’s sometimes a pain to get IE to handle it right, but if you start with good code, it’s usually a matter of finding the right tweak for IE rather than starting with IE-based code and ripping things out to get it to work in other browsers.

    Also, Firefox itself has some excellent extensions for web developers, including a validation add-on for view source, a color picker that lets you match colors in a web page, and a toolbar that lets you selectively enable/disable features, outline specific types of elements, and so on.

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