Public browser development

By Nicholas Rougeux, posted on April 23, 2005 in Browsers, Web

The amount of progress on browser development made available to the public between companies ranges from almost anything you want to know to next to nothing. There are others but those are the extremes. This has me wondering, why aren't we given answers to the questions we ask about the development process?

You can read all about the latest bugs/issues/fixes from the Mozilla foundation on their Bugzilla site but it's a bit complicated for the average user. It's for the browser's developers and is essentially a bug listing. Information in simpler terms can be found at mozillaZine, an independant Mozilla news and community site. Where might one go for information on the development of IE? Why IEBlog of course, but don't expect to find much information there on what you really want to know. Posts are occasionally made and when they are, you're lucky if they answer any of your questions.

Just yesterday, though, some of those questions have finally been answered and along with many other developers, I'm glad to see some of those answers. According to this post, support for PNG images will be implemented and the wildly annoying Peekaboo and Guillotine bugs will be fixed.

  • Support the alpha channel in PNG images. We’ve actually had this on our radar for a long time, and have had it supported in the code for a while now. We have certainly heard the clear feedback from the web design community that per-pixel alpha is a really important feature.
  • Address CSS consistency problems. Our first and most important goal with our Cascading Style Sheet support is to remove the major inconsistencies so that web developers have a consistent set of functionality on which they can rely. For example, we have already checked in the fixes to the peekaboo and guillotine bugs documented at so use of floated elements become more consistent.

This is great and I apprecite them doing this but forgive me if I'm not wildly excited about it. They're basically playing catch up with the rest of the browser market in this area. These things haven't been a problem with other browsers for years.

Last week, Acid2 was released from WaSP and as many have seen, every browser fails the test. (This begs the question of what they used to test it but the answer to that may be coming.) Almost immediately after Acid2 was released, Dave Hyatt began work on Safari to fix the bugs outlined by the test. Since then, he's been successfully fixing them and I fully expect Safari to be the first browser to pass it within the next few weeks if that. The best part about the progress Dave's making is that he's letting us know all about it. If a fix is completed, he posts about it. So far, Dave is the only one I've seen publicly making any headway on this test. Where is everyone else?

Bugzilla has a listing for Mozilla's progress with it with plenty of links within to other areas outlining different elements of the bug. This is great but can take a while to figure out what areas are being worked on and how much work has been done. Plenty of links within point to other bugs that are apparent in Acid2.

If there is a place to see how Opera is progressing with Acid2, I haven't been able to find it. Maybe I missed something but could someone point me toward anything on this?

Then we come to IE. It's no surprise here that there is no mention of the test on their blog outside of some scattered comments from readers or anywhere else that I can find. One of the only bits of concrete information we have related to IE's development that concerns us developers is that which I quoted above from their post. This is one of the reasons why that one part of me isn't all that excited about this latest news. Thousands have asked questions about the future of IE's support for CSS and many other things only to be met with silence or vague useless business-ridden responses that don't actually explain anything. If Microsoft wants developers to once again become excited about IE, they need to start giving us something to be excited about as they develop it.

With all that said, keep in mind, I'm not some big anti-IE developer. I just want things to work right and right now, the most commonly used browser on the market doesn't make things work right. This doesn't make me happy. I don't like having to spend most of my time "fixing" things so they work in IE properly. I'd feel the same way if the tables were turned and Firefox or Opera were the major browsers on the market, IE was secondary, and they had just as many problems. They're not. IE is.

No browser is perfect. I encourage all browser developers to work on the Acid2 test and get things working just right for a change. It's long overdue.

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