Web designers and developers usually have a selection of the most popular browsers installed on their PC. You don’t? Really? Why not install a few and give them a go.
Operating Systems allow you to set a default browser and we all have our favorites. Some love Firefox for its flexibility. Some swear by Chrome for its speed and clean interface. Others prefer Opera for its tools and features. Many Apple users love Safari’s OS integration. IE users like the browser because … erm, well, they have their reasons (and we have high hopes for IE9).
I started with Netscape 2, migrated to IE3, 4, 5, 5.5 and 6, then switched to Phoenix, Firebird and eventually Firefox. Although I had other browsers installed, I rarely used them for anything other web page testing.
However, in the past year or two I’ve noticed a change in my browser usage patterns. I now use whichever application is most practical — sometimes, it’s simply the icon closest to my cursor. There are a several reasons:
- The 5 main browsers are all good applications. You may prefer one over another, but none is perfect and even the worst is fine for general web surfing.
- Chrome and Safari may offer some amazing CSS3 effects but the gap between the browsers is smaller than it’s ever been. All of the top browsers offer decent rendering capabilities.
- It’s often practical to have two or more different browsers open, e.g. if you’re accessing work and private GMail accounts at the same time.
In most cases, though, I use whichever browser offers the best facilities for the task in hand. For fast browsing, I might use Chrome. On a netbook, I often use Opera for it’s speed, built-in email and turbo mode for slow connections. For storing bookmarks and web page development, it’s hard to beat Firefox. Finally, I still use IE for testing and a few specific corporate applications.
While I doubt many general Internet users flit between applications, it’s increasingly less likely for a power user to have monogamous relationship with a single browser. Then again, perhaps it’s just me — I’ve become a browser whore.
What do you think? Are you wedded to one browser or do you flirt with them all? Please vote on the SitePoint poll or leave your comments below…
Craig is a freelance UK web consultant who built his first page for IE2.0 in 1995. Since that time he's been advocating standards, accessibility, and best-practice HTML5 techniques. He's created enterprise specifications, websites and online applications for companies and organisations including the UK Parliament, the European Parliament, the Department of Energy & Climate Change, Microsoft, and more. He's written more than 1,000 articles for SitePoint and you can find him @craigbuckler.
Jump Start Git, 2nd Edition
Visual Studio Code: End-to-End Editing and Debugging Tools for Web Developers
Form Design Patterns