May
10

The Bottom Line

Posted by Aaron West at 5:03 PM in Web Standards

I've been a web professional for quite some time now. Occassionally, I'm confronted by another web professional or even the casual Internet user on subjects such as: What web browser is the best? or Which web browser has the highest market share? or even Which web browser is the most standards-compliant? It's really a tireless discussion but in many cases unavoidable. Oftentimes the conversation gets heated, opinions flare, and all parties retreat without taking one positive step forward.

There are really two parts to this arguement. First, is the issue of W3C compliance and second is the issue of which browser is better overall. At least, these are the issues that I am most concerned with. There are loads of web sites chock full of information concerning the browser wars so I'm not going to tackle the subject. I'll leave you to do some of your own research and make your own decision on which browser you feel is the best. However, there are some facts that I would like to list so we can all leave a little more knowledgeable about one of the web's hottest topics.

Without a doubt, Microsoft's Internet Explorer is the most widely used web browser on the market. Current statistics reveal that Internet Explorer is smashing the competition in terms of browser usage. But, what does this actually mean? Does it mean that Internet Explorer is the de facto standard? Does this alone mean that IE is the most standards-compliant browser? As you might have expected the statistics only reveal that more people are using IE than any other browser available. So what's this about standards? A standard is something, such as a practice or a product, that is widely recognized or employed, especially because of its excellence. The web in general is moving towards standards-compliance, something that has been lacking ever since Tim Berners-Lee created what we now know as the Internet. The so-called browser wars were fully facilitated by this lack of a standard way of doing things. Time has taken its toll and finally, the major players are creating browsers that conform to W3C standards and recommendations. So which browsers ARE W3C compliant? According to Webstandards.org there are a number of compliant browsers. As my reference shows, all of the browsers listed are the newest versions from the key players. If your browser isn't listed on the page, then it's simply not compliant. Is there such a thing as 100% compliance? Maybe there is, but I don't think we've seen it yet. All of the browsers listed on the WebStandards site are seen as highly compliant, but that doesn't mean they are totally, 100% compliant. So having taken from that article that there are numerous browsers that are compliant how are Internet users and more specifically, web developers supposed to choose a browser?

I said earlier that we were dealing with more than one issue. Even if there was a browser that was 100% W3C compliant would it be the best to use? Maybe not, because being compliant with the W3C is not the end-all be-all. Each browser's implementation of the web is different and as you might expect, viewing a web site in one browser may produce different results than when viewing the same page in another browser. The bottom line, for the web developer, is not necessarily which browsers are compliant, but what technologies you can employ to give your users the richest experience possible. Because of the sheer number of people using Internet Explorer, I'm more concerned about getting my pages to work well in IE. The market share of Microsoft's IE only enforces this concern, as does Internet Explorer's proven support for new methodologies such as Cascading Style Sheets (CSS) and Extensible Markup Language (XML). It all comes down to one thing: How can I as a web developer create the best experience possible for the most users. And currently, Internet Explorer takes the cake in helping me achieve this goal.

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This entry was posted by Aaron West on May 10, 2002 at 5:03 PM. It was filed in the following categories: Web Standards. It has been viewed 4588 times and has 0 comments.

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