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  1. #1
    SitePoint Wizard iTec's Avatar
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    The problem with standards

    Ian Glass and I had a conversation today about browsers and standards and I've come to the conclusion that standards will not deliver what it is we truely want and that being that what you code is what you get. The three Major browsers, IE, Mozilla/NS and Opera are the reason behind this. All three browsers suffer from quirks, 5pm friday codeing and misinterpreted W3c specs. Most of this has to do with Human error and as much as we would like for the code to render the same results in all browsers its not going to happen anytime soon because of the human error factor.

    My thought was why do we need several browsers? Innovation, competition and freedom of choice are all good reasons to have 3 very unique browsers, but why do we need several browser developers each trying to create a rendering engine when a simpler solution to standards would be to have the same rendering engine used in each browser, sure its a dream. Microsoft would never throw away IE's rendering engine to adopt Mozilla's nor would Opera and Mozzilla adopt IE's. But in reality it would benefit developers, consumers, and Designers who still even with the relatively advanced state of standards have to deal with bowsers and there quirks.

    Ian raised a point to counteract what I said, and that was that he still wanted atleast 1 browser pushing the boundaries, and i completely agree. However the boundaries that are being pushed are no longer the renderings, its is the added frills (mouse gestures, tabed browsing, scrollbars ect ect) If a truely open source rendering engine were adopted (nb: As close as Mozilla is, it is still not completely open source) it would with hope give us 1 set of rules that would apply to all browsers, A quirk in the engine would effect all the browsers, meaning designers would be well aware of it and have the ability to work with the 1 quirk in mind, unlike the current state where we have quirks for Opera, IE and Mozilla. That is something not even standards will eliminate.

    so what are your thoughts? Would the world be better with 1 engine or am I just hoping for to much?

  2. #2
    + platinum's Avatar
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    I think some group (the w3c probably) could create a set of standards, updated every 6 months, a simple 'plug-in' package that each browser can use... meaning everything is EXACTLY the same in all browsers

    Even though i'm sure it won't take off since many people probably think 'they can do it better'

  3. #3
    Grumpy Mole Man Skunk's Avatar
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    I'm not at all convinced. For one thing, without multiple rendering engines there will be no competition (all browsers will essentially be the same with a different skin, and as you pointed out lack of competition leads to lack of innovation).

    More importantly, your argument seems based on the idea that web designers should be able to create "pixel perfect" designs that behave exactly as the designer wants them to. This is not and should not be how the web works. Different people (and different devices) should be able to interpret web pages in the most suitable way for their particular situations. Having "one rendering engine to rule them all" will do nothing to encourage designers to create truely flexible web sites that can be viewed however the user wishews (or needs) to view them.

    Web standards are the solution, and the standards situation is getting better all the time. Yes there are problems with browser manufatyurers ignoring or misinterpreting the standards and it will take a while (several years at least) for these mistakes to be rectified, but we are at a stage now where browsers compete to be the most standards compliant. This is a win win situation.

    I agree it's frustrating having to work around browser inconsitencies while staying standards compliant, but that's part and parcel of the challenge of being a web developer.

    On a final note, today the Web Standards project launches phase II. Their new mission (having succesfully convinced browser manufacturers to adopt web standards) is to target developers. The more developers convert to using web standards the more pressure there will be on browser manufacturers to get it right.

    http://www.webstandards.org/

  4. #4
    SitePoint Wizard iTec's Avatar
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    Originally posted by Skunk
    More importantly, your argument seems based on the idea that web designers should be able to create "pixel perfect" designs that behave exactly as the designer wants them to. This is not and should not be how the web works. Different people (and different devices) should be able to interpret web pages in the most suitable way for their particular situations. [/url]
    no im not talking about pixel perfect designs, I am however talking about having the designs look the same when viewed on PC using anyone of the 3 major browsers, a task wich would account for roughly 90+% of the billions of page views any given year.

    Even if we did have the ability to create pixel perfect designs i dont think it would have anyless of an impact if standards were followed, as different media types would have different style sheets to govern them, meaning theoretically you can design a pixel perfect site that will also have the ability to be seen in a different state according to each media type.

    what im really talking about tho is simple things like fonts, with css we gained access to greater control of how fonts are displayed, yet out of the half dozen options there is not 1 that will work across all the 5+ browsers that will look as intended by the designer yet still leave flexibility for the users to control if they so choose. pixels are the closest we have, yet the user can not resize them.

    Even looking at WASP's frontpage I earlyer noticed that they have an issue with a browser bug, giving users of a specific browser a horizontal scrollbar. It works in 8 or so browsers and yields good results, yet they are still going to have to code a workaround to deal with this one specific browser, standards are supposed to stop the need for browser specific coding, but if the browsers all react diferently then there is no reason for even having standrads in the first place! and that is my whole point.

    as you pointed out lack of competition leads to lack of innovation
    Individual browsers introducing inovations within there browser is something we no longer want, All it does is introduce proprietory code that will only work in that one browser, IF a browser developer did come up with something new then there is no reason at all why it cant be submited to w3c and then to the 1 global engine and let all the browsers have access to it at the same time, the general public doesnt care what browser lets you have the nifty little effect, it is the features outside the rendering that attracts them to the browser. (or in the case of IE, the fact that it is included in there OS)

    its just my thought tho, maybe in several years as you say, all the browser quirks may be gone, but then we will start all over again with css3 and xhtml 2


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