Nov 9, 2007

Web Page Rendering On IE vs Firefox

A lot has been written and said about rendering differences between IE and Firefox. I don't want to go there, but I do want to point out an observation I've made. It used to be that most sites looked really nice when rendered in IE. I used IE for all my browsing about two years ago. Then I switched to Firefox and haven't looked back. One thing that I noticed when I first switched is that many sites just didn't render right when viewed in Firefox. Over the last two years things have really changed. It is very rare that something doesn't render correctly in Firefox these days. That could be attributed to a lot of things, but regardless, rendering is generally not an issue. (I should note here that the difference in standards IS an issue for the developer, but for the person doing the browsing it's not an issue.)

Since my hard drive on my MacBook Pro died earlier this week, I have been forced to use IE a lot more -- especially at school. I've noticed something that caught me a little by surprise. IE was having a real hard time rendering many of the sites I use. Most of the really popular sites with big development budgets look great, but many of the "Web 2.0" sites I've visited don't look right. This is very similar to the experience I had when I moved to Firefox.

So why the switch? I don't know. But if I had to guess I would say that it probably has to do with another observation I've made. If you are a web developer and you don't work specifically on Microsoft / .Net products, you are probably using Firefox to run your site during your development process. When you finish or get ready to deploy, then you test on IE and make changes. Am I out of whack here? If I'm right, then what that means is that more and more web sites are being built with Firefox standards then kluged to work with IE. That would explain the shift.

Well, I could be completely wrong here, but this is just a hunch. Anyone else made any similar / supporting observations?


Gary said...

From what I've seen in (not-.Net) web development shops, your guess is about right: developers use Firefox, or occasionally Safari, to look at the site during development. Then, if there's time and if there's a developer who's not running OS X or Linux, they test in IE 7. IE 6 gets done last if at all.

Another contributing factor is the available support in popular Javascript / AJAX libraries. Firefox pretty well always works. IE 7 works most of the time, but the library authors have to hack things in strange ways to make it work. Safari 2 and IE 6 sometimes don't have the capabilities that the libraries need.

Mike said...

Go Firefox!

LArs said...

Well you are right in that Firefox is the tool for developers, actually Safari is quite useless, you should work in Firefox, but don't wait until the site is finished to look at it in IE there is no mystery in what IE can and can't do, for example if you want a translucent div in firefox is easy


In Safari too but IE is a different story, just make sure the site is functional in IE plus in all your works specify that the site will work in accordance to W3C and your country(if you have any) standards.

And on another note, remember you need also to take into consideration browsers without: Flash, JavaScript, Silverlight, etc.

GL, and fight IE ^^

P/s: Firefox is the best browser for developing NOT the best browser, that is clearly at this moment Safari 4(MAC, haven't tried Windows and don't know if it even exists).