Browser Compliance

Introduction

Many computer forums are full of people saying you should dump your present browser and use the one that they're using; it's faster, got more bells and whistles or whatever. My own advice would be to try a few and use whatever one you're most comfortable with. Web designers should test their sites on the most used browsers and at least make sure the site is usable in them. The problem is that browsers are supposed to render web sites exactly the same, unfortunately they don't and such testing is necessary.

In June 2005, the subject of compatibility and standards compliance for browsers came up in two separate forums that I use; the Dev Shed CSS and the Fedora Links forums. As I use Linux, Mac and Windows computers with several browsers installed on each of them I decided to see how compliant they were.

Test OS's and Browsers

The following operating systems and browsers were used for this test...

Linux - Fedora Core 5 using Gnome - Epiphany 1.7.1, Firefox 1.0.4 and Konqueror 3.4.1
Mac OSX - MSIE 5.2, Netscape Navigator 7.2 and Safari 1.0.3
Windows XP - MSIE 6.0.29, Opera 7.54, Firefox 1, Netscape Navigator 7.2, WebTV Viewer

The Tests

These are fairly simple.

The Acid2 Test from the Web Standards Project is a simple looking smiley image. The closer to the reference image the browser can render the page the closer the browser is to being W3C standards compliant.

Gary Turner from the Dev Shed CSS forum wrote the 3-column page and wanted to know what it looked like in various browsers.

The Results

Conclusions

Basically, none of the browsers tested can render the Acid2 Test page properly. The Web Standards Project does say that there is a pre-production version of Safari that is as close as they can get. Konqueror is trying to get hold of Safari's engine and Opera are developing their own. However, the test is pretty strict and I can't see too many designers using the code that they've used.

Some may argue that some browsers are less wrong than others, but standards don't work like that. When companies start advertising as being "nearly ISO9005 compliant" I'll be able to sell the 30 year old electrical cable that may be nearly to current IEEE standards that is currently awaiting disposal in my shed. I'll even remove the scorched bits from previous overloads and the cracked insulation!

So what are web designers supposed to do? Validating the code is always a good idea but the site should still be tested in various browsers to check its readability and usability.

This page created 29th June 2005, last modified 3rd July 2005


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