Tag Archives: Web Standards

Waxing Firefox, Waning IE

IE continues it’s downward spiral as the browser dips below 69% at the expense of Firefox and the WebKit-powered duo of Apple Safari and Google Chrome. The breakdown as paraphrased by TG Daily:

Net Applications released updated global browser market share numbers today, indicating that IE is losing users at an accelerated pace. The browser’s share dropped from 69.77% in November to 68.15% in December. Most rivals were able to pick up a portion of what IE surrendered. Firefox gained more than half a point and ended up at 21.34%, Safari approaches the next big hurdle with 7.93% and Chrome came in at 1.04%, the first time Google was able to cross the 1% mark. Opera remained stable 0.71%, but it is clear that the Norwegian browser cannot attract any users IE loses.

This is no surprise. Taking into account the seasonal fluctuation towards home users in December which point to higher “non-corporate” platforms and browsers, this is still a landmark statistic and shows that if the gradual decline continues, 60% and 50% are not that far off in the future. As the trend for Firefox and WebKit to rise at the expense of IE has been continuing for some time now. What surprises me are a couple of things though, specifically:

  1. The rate at which IE is losing overall market share: While I predicted a decline in market share over the long term, I didn’t think I’d ever see it declining at the rate it is currently declining on a month to month average. It just seems steep to me.
  2. Opera adoption: I thought that more people would pick up Opera – at least I thought they’d have 2 or 3 percent by now. They are by far the most deployed browser on the mobile web, but nobody knows it really because they could care less what browser is being activated from their baked-up phone UI, and it’s unlikely that they use it much (which is the fault of the phone vendors – Opera Mobile by itself is great.) I like Opera. It’s not my default browsaer, but I find myself using it from time to time for certain things. Certainly for print and presentations, and also it’s handy mobile web dev in Small Screen mode.

I wonder how much of those Safari numbers are being driven from iPhone and iPod Touch users? What is also interesting in these metrics is the inclusion of Google’s Chrome browser, which again is based on the WebKit core that Safari is founded upon. Chrome broke 1%, and at the same time they have begun recommending against IE and in favor of Firefox and Chrome for Google Gmail users. This is an interesting coup attempt to grab their Gmail base still floundering on IE6, and it is even more noteworthy that IE7 was not mentioned as an alternative. I am betting Chrome will be a major contender a year from now, and the overall WebKit market share might even approach Firefox’s levels. What is probably safe to predict is that IE will continue to lose out to Firefox and WebKit-based browsers and I would not be surprised at this point if the rate of increase in adoption of alternative browsers began to accelerate in 2009 towards these platforms.

It is nice to see strong lines of diversity returning to the browser market. The benefit will be for better browsers and stronger support overall for web standards.

Researching web information architecture, usability, and standards

If you are a web developer, web designer, web architect, web usability expert, in a similar role, or just have an opinion on the subjects of web architecture, usability, and standards, I need your help! I am doing a research paper on the arguments in favor of having large enterprise organizations develop policies for the following issues:

  • Implementing and enforcing a standardized user interface for an enterprise web presence.
  • Developing an enterprise web information architecture.
  • Developing and enforcing a web style guide.
  • Enforcing web standards (i.e. valid XHTML, CSS, DOM scripting using ECMAScript standard, etc.
  • Usability and accessibility issues (Section 508, case law, etc.)

Broad category? Yes. But hey, it’s easier than writing about how to curb global population growth or global warming. I’m trying to positively influence the world through better enterprise web strategy. My goal is to bring standards-based web design out of the sidelines and fully into the mainstream at the enterprise level. I think the case has been made clear for small web infrastructures and web 2.0 plays, but the enterprise still lags in this area and it is a far more challenging problem due to the information and organizational complexity of such behemoths.

I need your help! If you have any suggestions, opinions, recommended books, citations, essays, or good URLs to post, please let me know in the comments! Any opinion on this topic is welcome.


The Four Pillars of the Web

My old high school was deeply involved in Round Square – an international organization of high schools that practiced education that strongly aligns with the following “pillars”:

  • Internationalism
  • Democracy
  • Environment
  • Adventure
  • Leadership
  • Service

My XML teacher mentioned this in the current week’s discussion, almost as a passing thought, but I thought this was a poignant list that is worthy of expounding upon here. These pillars are:

  • Valid code
  • Accessible code
  • Semantic code
  • Separation of content from presentation

Valid code (standards compliance)

Web code should validate according to the specifications set forth for what you’re using. Browsers today often let you get away with murder here by still allowing tag soup to occur – mostly due to documents being still served as text/html instead of application/xhtml+xml. Blame IE6 for now. But standards-mode does exist in all modern browsers, enabled by the power of the DOCTYPE declaration – a simple declaration of independence from browser-lock. Imagine an enterprise architecture, nay an entire Internet, where web applications are completely standards-compliant and the user could move freely between platforms, applications, browsers, and websites without fear or concern for compatibility.

Accessible code

Creating accessible code means thinking about the bare framework of your website infrastructure first, and adding on bells and whistles in a way that gracefully fail over in case of a problem on the client. You can’t predict what people will want to use when they show up to your website, so start with the lowest common denominator. Turn off all your CSS, Javascript, plugins, and images. Only deal with your app in terms of the HTTP requests coming in and out, and the HTML that presents itself. Would you build a house without pouring a foundation first? Heck no. Make a purely accessible web experience your foundation and then add your 15 pieces of flair, Mr. Fancypants. Make sure that your site is as usable to a Lynx, phone, or screenreader user as it is to your cutting-edge IE7 and Safari 3 folks.

Semantically correct code

What the hell is this box of beer bottles doing in my garage? Had I tagged it appropriately, I would clearly see that it is glass non-twist-off bottles suitable for home brewing. Not that I am able to drink most homebrew due to the barley malt causing me reactions due to celiac disease, but I digress…

XML encourages the web author to tag their content appropriately, explaining in-line what the meaning is for each item. Using XML technique in coding your XHTML documents means you are applying more meaning than the usual “here’s a paragraph” markup, information that could be used by future generations. Won’t somebody think of the children?!?

Separation of content and presentation

Spend some time at the CSS Zen Garden and you get the point. Content and presentation do not like to sleep in the same bed. They like to flirt with each other, play the field, sleep around. Tying them together with presentational markup and inline styles just means an unhappy, possessive relationship where neither party is able to grow.

So those are the pillars. Things I’m sure the Round Square would approve of. Keep these in mind and help your code realize its true potential as a member of society.