Why hasn’t anyone else noticed?

by Matt 20. December 2008 16:43

bruce  Vincent Price.


 vincent  Bruce Forsyth.

I’m just sayin’…


Browsers. Google Chrome. Convergence

by Matt 19. December 2008 18:15

Right, one last post about the current crop of browsers. Google Chrome. The fabled, rumoured GBrowser. Based on WebKit. “V8” JavaScript engine. Uber-standards compliant, uber-fast.

And surprisingly not very innovative.

Which feels a little unfair, after all, it’s definitely a cutting edge browser. Without question. And it’s very good. But it’s just not doing anything that any body else isn’t.

The process isolation sandbox is a brilliant feature, and provides a level of security and reliability the web hasn’t seen since, oh, the introduction of IE8.

Ok, bit of a cheap shot. It is a great feature. But it does highlight something about the current crop of browsers – convergence. All of the big three browsers are getting more and more alike.

Look at the address bar – intelligent search on your history and bookmarks. Open a new tab, and get a task based page to better help you start surfing (IE and Chrome have different ideas on what to display, but the basic idea’s the same). Google ships with Gears and IE ships with (partial) HTML5 support (offline storage, but not worker threads in JavaScript). Chrome even eschews the normal menu bar in favour of page + tools menu, just like IE.

In fact, the only innovative thing I can see Chrome doing (other than perhaps the implementation of the JavaScript engine) is getting rid of the search box. There’s an obvious overlap between the address bar and the search box, and Google have simply merged the two. You’ve been able to do this in IE for several versions, and I thought you could do the same in Firefox too, but neither browser has made the bold decision to split the two.

I also like the application shortcuts feature. I was sceptical about having a browser window without address bar or other security conscious adornments (didn’t IE have huge problems with that), but it’s actually working as a very nice way to read GMail.

Ah, you say, you want innovation? How about the tabs being at the top of the window? Yeah. About that. Odd choice. All it really means is that if I open enough tabs, I can’t read the window title. Thanks.

(But I do like the use of Aero glass – it is a very nice looking browser. Definitely not a native look and feel, but it’s a native implementation, and you can tell – very solid and smooth.)

And if any more evidence were needed that the browsers are converging – check out their logos. QED, eh?

browser logos. They all look eerily similar. Well, round.

Tags: , ,

IE8 crowd sourcing compatibility view settings

by Matt 8. December 2008 18:38

So, it was, like, just the other day that I said that IE8’s compatibility view button, while useful to us smart Alecs that know about these things, was kind of obtuse.

It’s got two things against it. Firstly, it’s pushing the problem of compatibility down onto the people who are going to be most affected and least able to do anything about it. Secondly, it’s a feature that’s not so much undiscoverable (it is right there on the address bar, after all) as it is unknowable – how can I find the feature if I don’t even know it exists?

So, rather shrewdly, they’re going to be using the wisdom of the crowds to enable the compatibility view automatically when you get to a site that has been flagged as incompatible with the new IE8 standards view.

A brilliantly simple idea, getting other people to automatically make your product better for everyone else. I’ve seen it applied to web sites (Digg, StackOverflow, delicious) but not to applications before.

(Of course, I don’t think it’s as idealistically simple as this sounds. They’re going to use the data from the anonymous, software quality metrics you have to opt-in to, and that data is just going to help MS decide on the top sites, which they will push out at best monthly via Windows Update. But the idea is still good.)


Browsers. An IE8 quickie.

by Matt 1. December 2008 18:08

So if the big point about Firefox is that I don’t like the non-native UI rendering, what odd thing am I going to pick on for IE8?

Well, I’m not going to write a review – it’s far too late, and we’d all be far too bored by that. But there are still some interesting points to make – but let’s do ourselves a favour and I’ll limit myself to a Twitter-like 140 chars per point.

Let’s kick off:

“Good enough” doesn’t work when the competition continues to raise the bar.

IE is already comically behind. And now not shipping until next year (I bet with win7). Had expected this year with another rev for win7.

Compatibility view pushes the problem to the user. How does my mom know how to use this? Is the user base going to accept/understand this?

How does Firefox and WebKit render the web so well? Are sites really pushing radically different content to standards compliant browsers?

The IE blog has been great at getting the information out. As I shall soon demonstrate with lots of links…

And veering dangerously close to review:

The search box and address bar suggestions are a clear (ahem) homage to Firefox. But IE’s is prettier.

The address bar suggestions use Windows Search. Hooray for a surprising example of reuse! How totally unlike Microsoft!

Accelerators = Smart Tags. Web Slices are great iff you are Ebay. Grouped tab browsing is less gimmicky than I expected.

Activities, Web Slices and grouped tabs could easily be created with Firefox extensions. Web Slices already have. Oh, so have Accelerators.

(Web Slices Sidebar gadget. Cool hack. Shame I’m not following anything on Ebay.)

Developer tools are really good. Even got a nicer View Source app.

No-one else seems to have noticed you can switch style sheets from the View menu.

The RSS platform didn’t see much love. Ok, authentication. And it does power Web Slices, and you can search titles

But seriously folks:

Process isolation is very clever, and is genuine innovation.

Session restore. Hallelujah. But is it just me, or does it only work for one open window at a time? Here’s hoping it’s a beta bug…

So there we are. I think I managed to keep within 140 chars.



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