17 Sep

MSDN Blogs – Metro style browsing and plug-in free HTML5

For the web to move forward and for consumers to get the most out of touch-first browsing, the Metro style browser in Windows 8 is as HTML5-only as possible, and plug-in free. The experience that plug-ins provide today is not a good match with Metro style browsing and the modern HTML5 web.

Running Metro style IE plug-in free improves battery life as well as security, reliability, and privacy for consumers. Plug-ins were important early on in the web’s history. But the web has come a long way since then with HTML5. Providing compatibility with legacy plug-in technologies would detract from, rather than improve, the consumer experience of browsing in the Metro style UI.

via MSDN Blogs – Metro style browsing and plug-in free HTML5. Microsoft gets on the Flash is a dead end train.

03 Apr

Mozilla Add-ons Blog – Improving Add-on Performance

Firefox performance is extremely important to our users, especially how quickly it starts up and loads websites. Customization is also extremely important, and while most add-ons cause only a tiny performance impact, others can significantly slow down Firefox. Many users don’t realize add-ons can cause these delays, and that’s why we’re committed to improving performance in a big way.

On average, each add-on you install adds about 10% to Firefox start-up time. For some users that’s mere milliseconds, and for others it may be half a second; it all depends on the hardware and software of each individual. Many add-ons add less than 10%, and unfortunately, there are quite a few add-ons that add more. But based on our real-world performance data, installing 10 add-ons will double Firefox’s start-up time.

via Mozilla Add-ons Blog – Improving Add-on Performance. Nice, that’s a great thing for users, start publishing information regarding the performance of add-ons and start trying to convince programmers to be more intelligent in building add-ons. The number one slowest add-on is Firebug (which makes sense but is awful for web developers), also in the top ten is an add-on supposedly designed to speed up Firefox.

05 Dec

24 ways – My CSS Wish List

I love Christmas. I love walking around the streets of London, looking at the beautifully decorated windows, seeing the shiny lights that hang above Oxford Street and listening to Christmas songs.

I’m not going to lie though. Not only do I like buying presents, I love receiving them too. I remember making long lists that I would send to Father Christmas with all of the Lego sets I wanted to get. I knew I could only get one a year, but I would spend days writing the perfect list.

The years have gone by, but I still enjoy making wish lists. And I’ll tell you a little secret: my mum still asks me to send her my Christmas list every year.

This time I’ve made my CSS wish list. As before, I’d be happy with just one present.

via 24 ways – My CSS Wish List. Count me in for every one of these.

02 Sep

Daring Fireball – How to Judge the Battle Between Apple and Adobe Regarding Flash

Here’s how I see this battle between Apple and Adobe. For Adobe, losing would be a large-scale abandonment of Flash by web producers — sites that previously used Flash abandoning it, and new sites never using it in the first place. For Apple, losing would be if the absence of Flash on iOS devices led to people choosing competing devices that do support Flash — i.e. if the absence of Flash for iOS hurt sales of iPhones, iPod Touches, and iPads.

via Daring Fireball – How to Judge the Battle Between Apple and Adobe Regarding Flash. My bet, Apple or rather open standards (ie. HTML5 video and audio technologies) will win in the long run. Flash will slowly decline further and further as it become a less useful platform upon which to operate under or with. HTML5 will be a long and slow pick up due to older browsers not supporting it specifically, Internet Explorer and those people and corporations who are slow to update.

Video is pretty safe to say that Flash is going to be secondary way to display video not the primary. All other uses of Flash if they haven’t been replaced are about to be replaced with alternatives that aren’t as hard to build and overall have better performance for all users including mobile users.

02 Jan

Modern Thoughts On Open Source

All this points to one thing: Open source is an infrastructure. Just like the roads in the city that automobile manufacturers are interested in, software companies want access to existing infrastructure to build their own products upon and make money, instead of having to re-invent the wheel everytime. It’s a win-win situation for all companies. Paying Microsoft to get Windows to support their products can be an expensive affair. So making an operating system a commodity is in everyone’s interests (well, except Microsoft’s). The web browser is another example of a commodity today. Everyone’s interested in a good, conformant, open platform on which to develop their web applications on.

via Modern thoughts on open source | Artagnon’s Presence.

21 Mar

Firefox vs. Chrome

PC World yesterday ran a piece on Chrome and Firefox, comparing the two and essentially Firefox was dead and Chrome was going to win the latest browser battle.

Run Chrome and Firefox side-by-side, and Firefox is embarrassingly slow. It’s not even in the same league. It’s an old man on the running track trying to compete against a sprightly 20-year-old.

I think Firefox has lost the plot.

Personally I think the latest release of both Chrome and Firefox are good and solid releases that build upon what both of the browsers do really well. Chrome has a focus on three main things, speed, security, and getting out of the way. Firefox on the other hand, reliability, speed and extensibility. While both are in my personal and unscientific testing fast, neither is so fast as to make a huge difference towards using one over the other.

Chrome has one limiting thing that keeps me from using it, a lack of extensions. Granted in the some of the latest developer editions, which I am running, there is now support for extensions. However these extensions limit something that I enjoy so much in Firefox, the extensions are currently limited to JavaScript files that are tacked onto each of the pages that you visit. While JavaScript can certainly do a lot of things inside of the browser and such, it can’t make Chrome look different, or interact outside of a particular browser window. That provides a limitation that Firefox extensions don’t have.

At the same time, to quote Dave Winer: “Firefox hasn’t shipped a feature that I care about in a long time.” Indeed what new feature did Firefox ship with lately that I cared about? Nothing, I still and will always recommend Firefox to people and to switch away from IE and even Safari (don’t get me wrong Safari is a good browser, I just don’t like some stuff that it does), but I’m not passionate about either Chrome or Firefox. Granted right when Chrome came out it was really, really fast, and a browser made by Google with Google Gears built in sign me up. Then Firefox released their new JavaScript engine and Chrome and Firefox essentially became the same speed and now, meh.

They are both good browsers, but both have become simply a part of something that I use for hours on end and essentially use to do pretty much everything I do, from my job, to my finances, to heck finding an apartment and buying insurance is done through the web. The only applications I have open in my normal day to day life is Firefox, Chrome, Postbox, iTunes, Pidgin and Twhirl. Notice everything is built for and revolves around the web ultimately in that set, except for iTunes, mainly because music over the web is still a poor experience compared to playing my music.

I want a browser that adheres to standards and is fast and reliable. Both Chrome and Firefox and even Safari provide that, what else does the average person need in a browser?

Someone go and rethink that question for a few months and then I might start caring again.

08 Sep

Firefox Code Base Analysis

Mozilla Firefox is an open-source web browser, that has gathered just over 11% of the internet browser market, an impressive movement for a browser that has to be physically downloaded onto a person’s computer and is not known outside of tech/geek circles. Few people install it themselves outside of these circles unless they know someone who has set up their computer and installed Firefox for them. (Side Note – I use Opera, another excellent open-source browser priopertary but free to use browser that has plenty of built in security features, one of the main reasons to switch to Firefox.)

An open-source program is a software program that is developed not by a commercial company such as Microsoft or Adobe or Apple, but rather is one that is developed, coded, and maintained by a community of users. All of these users develop the code, report on errors and work to fix the errors and constantly improve the program. Mozilla is a non-profit corporation, so it makes no profit from Firefox being used, and the majority of the developers are people outside of the company. This does several things generally to open-source programs, one is that it makes them quicker to respond to changes in the market, as the people who write the code are already at the forefront of any technology waves, they quickly make sure that the browser is compatible for all new technologies. Also it generally provides a more secure and resilient program, which seems like backwards logic – Wouldn’t a program whose source code is viewable actually be more open to attack.

In fact, in theory and in practice that the opposite is actually true. This based on a fundamental idea behind many Web 2.0 apps and the open-source movement and to some extent democracy – the wisdom of the crowds. This theory says that when you get a ton of people all looking at the same thing and all examining it the bad stuff, whatever it may be from a bad code to a bad news article in the case of Digg, is removed. Think about it, how many times have you just needed one other person to check over your work to be see what you are doing, writers do it, engineers do it, accountants do it, everybody does it. Now imagine that you have at least a dozen (on the smallest open-source projects) to several hundred (on the largest open-source projects) examining what you put into the program. All of sudden, all those careless mistakes that you make are eliminated, because not is it you and maybe one or two other people checking your work but instead tons of people are checking your work for you as you check their work. This is the inherent power of the open source movement.

However as we have found far too often no system is perfect, and Firefox is also prone to errors in it’s source code. G2zero.com examined the source code of the Firefox browser and found that there were 655 defects and 71 potential security vulnerabilities in the source code. Now that may seem like a lot to those of you who do not code programs, but for a program of this scale and magnitude that is a great number. No program will ever get rid of errors or security issues, think about even Mac OSX which routinely touts the operating system’s inherent security. Apple releases patches and security bulletins for OSX too, the same as Microsoft issues patches for Windows every 2nd Tuesday of the month, what is known as Security Tuesday.

The question here is whether or not automatic software tools that examine code and look for errors are worth deploying. There are a great many who say, yes, because it helps you to find the errors and a computer won’t skip over things that a human would ignore. Whereas another great many say, no because a computer sees things that just don’t matter a human knows the code and knows whether or not an error actually matters in the code or can just be ignored. I have to take the middle road on this, you should test and error proof the code yourself, a computer program can give you a place to start but it does not understand the whole code the same way a human does. The best thing is to do unit tests on your code and determine that the code works even when given invalid data. A security hole will always exist, an error can always be found, but does the program work reliably and efficiently is possibly the better question to ask. The general public doesn’t care how many security holes a program has, they just want it to work. This is not to say they programmers should leave their code open to attack, rather the emphasis should be on producing quality code that in the words of Apple “just works”. When quality code is produced that “just works” the security comes hand in hand.

Edit – Sept. 16, 2006 10:22 pm, Fixed a mistake in my posting regarding the nature of the Opera web browser.