Google Goes HTML5

I just noticed that Google is now serving it’s homepage with an HTML5 doctype:

< !doctype html>

I suspect this might have changed when they launched that new fade effect. I also noticed they are doing so when using the new YouTube “Feather” beta. This shouldn’t be too surprising considering their involvement in the HTML5 specs and developing a web browser and announcing it’s moving away from Google Gears.

Of course the pages don’t validate, and don’t really take advantage of much HTML5 features (that I’ve seen at least). But it’s a step in the right direction. With modern browsers like Firefox, Chrome, Safari becoming more popular it’s slowly becoming a reality.

A Standards Based Future

I wrote a few weeks ago about Microsoft’s plan to require a meta tag to use standards mode rendering in IE8. There was a ton of backlash. I can’t remember the last time so many browser and web developers publicly spoke out so quickly on an issue. It was pretty obvious to everyone that it wasn’t a good thing for the web.

Microsoft has had a change of heart, and will now use the new standards mode by default, and an IE7 compatibility mode via a meta tag. This is a much better move as it will mean more rapid adoption of standards. The point in which we will be able to develop on a more level playing field moved much closer thanks to this move.

As everyone around the web is noticing, this little nugget in the press release is pretty interesting:

“While we do not believe there are currently any legal requirements that would dictate which rendering mode must be chosen as the default for a given browser, this step clearly removes this question as a potential legal and regulatory issue,? said Brad Smith, Microsoft senior vice president and general counsel.

Most seem to think that’s a reference to Opera’s antitrust complaint with the EU. I would agree.

Go Standards Campaign?

I wonder if it’s worth some sort of cross-vendor campaign (Mozilla, Microsoft, Opera, WebKit/Apple) to get users to adopt modern browsers in a much more rapid pace. IE6 is hanging around for much longer than one would like. I suspect IE 8’s adoption won’t be very quick either. Perhaps it’s necessary for it to be combined with a GoPHP5 style campaign where older browsers are unsupported as of an arbitrary date. While Microsoft may have some obligation to provide security patches until the apocalypse, there’s no reason why websites must support it.

This is of course hard to implement as nobody wants to jump on this train unless all their competitors join in. It would take coordination on the level of Google, Yahoo, Facebook, AOL, Amazon, Adobe sized sites. Odds of something like that working are <5%, but I could be wrong. As a web developer dropping IE6 is a dream I can’t wait to see happen. It would however be interesting to see what innovation would take place if browser support suddenly became much more level.

Give Us Milestone Builds

It would be nice if Microsoft would start shipping milestone builds in a somewhat regular interval (weekly, monthly) so that developers can constantly test and evaluate how their websites behave in IE 8. It would be nice to know up front what we are looking at. Of course this is best when your bug database is open, but even when it’s closed, it’s still helpful to know where you stand at all times. I regularly test websites I work on in WebKit, Opera, Firefox nightlies. Why do I do this? So I know exactly what’s coming. So I can track issues I may have to fix, or the vendor may need to fix. I also can make a time estimate on how long it will take until I’m ready for browser x. Generally with those browsers the time estimate hovers around 0. Every so often an issue worth looking into arises.

I think this would really help the web ease into a fully standards world.

The new generation of browsers including Firefox 3 and IE 8 are really shaping up.

Meta Stupidity

As Robert O’Callahan, John Resig, Anne van Kesteren all point out, this idea of using a meta tag to select a rendering engine is bad. Here are my personal thoughts on the issue. Not as a browser developer but as a web developer.

Essentially the argument by the IE team is this: Rather than fix the problem, lets create a larger problem so the smaller one isn’t very noticeable.

Yea, that’s how I parsed the blog post. For anyone who disagrees, perhaps I interpreted it wrong because they didn’t select the correct parser because they didn’t include the following:

<meta http-equiv="X-UA-Compatible" content="IE=8;FF=3;raccettura=serious;OtherUA=4" />

All joking aside it’s an insane idea guaranteed to set things back.

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Barclays Blocks Firefox

Tech site The INQUIRER mentions that Barclays says no to Firefox. Reporter confirms this is a problem. Relatively speaking, it’s a small percentage compared to American Express, who was a long time problem for many Firefox users. It seems financial institutions have long been a problem in terms of Firefox compatibility and web standards in general.

Personally I think most of the larger financial institutions have resolved their issues. It’s mainly just the handful of banks who don’t don’t invest much in their online infrastructure. Compared to how the landscape looked 2 years ago, I think there has been a lot of progress.

It’s also a major win for Linux and Mac users who are finding it easier to do finances without being hassled.

Were do people feel things stand these days? Has the landscape been improving? Do you still encounter issues? With whom?

WPF/E in Firefox

Mike Harsh discusses a bit about WPF/E as a cross platform solution, and includes a Firefox extension, leaving me to believe another Firefox extension from Microsoft is in the works (first being Microsoft Genuine Advantage). Mac support too.

For those wondering what WPF/E is, I’d recommend reading this and of course a wikipedia entry.

I do wonder if yet another framework to fragment the computing world is needed. Especially with things like SVG, Canvas and the Web Applications 1.0 Specification aka (X)HTML5, among existing technologies already in motion. But that’s another discussion.