HTML & CSS
Article
By Alex Walker

Safari passes the Acid Test

By Alex Walker

Blow the trumpets and release the doves!

Safari has won the race to be the first browser to pass the ACID2 browser compliance test. Nice work Dave Hyatt.

In case you’ve missed the talk about Acid2 till now, here’s the exec summary.

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Fundamentally, the Acid2 test is a page, designed and made available by the Web Standards Project — but not just any page.

No, in fact, ACID2 is exactly the sort of page yo’ mama told your browser to stay away from. It craftily piles up layer-upon-layer of every kind of new-fangled CSS notation, PNG jiggery and marginal HTML widget the standards allow. Then, for good measure, it heaps in a generous helping of invalid CSS, all of it thoughtfully designed to fail, and fail ‘ugly’.

To pass the test a browser firstly needs to be knowledgable enough to understand all the page notation. If it gets that under control it then just has to be able to handle the errors without exploding in a hail of springs and bolts. A ‘pass’ earns you this slightly disconcerting smiley face.

Perhaps, the best thing about Acid2 is that each ‘scan line’ of the face is a standalone test. In theory, if one fails, it shouldn’t have any effect on the other tests — better browsers will render a better smiley face. In fact, there’s an extremely detailed line-by-line breakdown of the page that explains each test in order.

So, assuming you’re not blessed enough to be driving the latest Safari build, how does your favorite browser fair?

I’m glad you asked. Here are some I prepared earlier!

So, at the end of the day, what good is all this?

I believe it has two purposes, both of which will ultimately make our jobs easier.

1) It sets a highly visible beacon for browsers developers to head towards.

2) It provides a ruler to rate each browser against it’s competition.

In the past it’s been too easy for browser developers to shrug their shoulders and say ‘yeah ok, maybe we don’t support , but hey, those guys over there don’t support . In the end, who’s right?‘. Acid2 gives us a clear answer to that question.

Of course, Acid2 isn’t the only way of testing a browser — hey, it’s probably not even the best — but as long as it continues gaining mindshare, it will be the one that matters.

In reality, it’s probably doubtful that the IE7 team will even publicly acknowledge Acid2. But I’m pretty sure it’ll be a pretty fiesty discussion point internally.

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