Firefox as an Afterthought

Album Cover: Crash

"You wear nothing, but you wear it so well."
Dave Matthews Band / Crash Into Me

Posted on November 07, 2005 2:07 AM in Browsers
Warning: This blog entry was written two or more years ago. Therefore, it may contain broken links, out-dated or misleading content, or information that is just plain wrong. Please read on with caution.

Given that I'm pulling a Scoble and posting more than three times in a 24 hour period, I guess it's appropriate that I'm referring to one of his posts in at least one of those entries. Earlier today, Scoble wrote about how Firefox support is coming to "very soon."

My question is, why does Firefox support so frequently come as an afterthought to some designers, especially those employed by companies like Microsoft that supposedly have so many brilliant minds at their disposal?

"Supporting Firefox" is as easy as designing to web standards. That, my friends, isn't rocket science. I've been doing it here for quite a while now, and in case you haven't noticed, a whole lot of other people have been doing it successfully for a long time now. If you are designing websites that only work in Internet Explorer, you're doing something wrong. In fact, if you didn't work at the company that designed that particular browser, I'd expect your job to be on the line because you're claiming that "supporing Firefox" requires extra work, or a second layer of effort not possible in the first layer. This is simply not true.

Not only does not support Firefox, but according to Opera Watch, is dead in Opera as well.

Scoble implies that Microsoft does care about "influentials" by referring to Sanaz Ahari's promise that Firefox support is coming to very soon. I think it's a bunch of bull. The only reason they're compelled to support Firefox is because they know that they'll get a bunch of bad "word of blog" PR if they don't.

My challenge to Sanaz Ahari and anyone else at Microsoft (or any of the other major companies out there) is to learn how to design to web standards and not to one particular browser (especially not one browser at a time!). If anything, the Microsoft design teams should see this as a chance to push the envelope of web standards and get people ready for the next generation of Internet Explorer, IE7. But, I'm afraid the IE team is too busy playing "catch up" to actually innovate in this area.

If these so called "designers" were cranking out sites like SimpleBits I might give them the benefit of the doubt, but they aren't. They're desining really simple, dumbed down pages with a few forms and maybe a little JavaScript magic. If I developed a site like that and only promised support for one browser, no matter what browser it was, I'd be embarrassed. And I'm not releasing these sites to thousands upon thousands of prospective users.

Get with it people. Quit embarrassing yourselves. Firefox isn't just the new kid on the block anymore.


Mr. Ignition on November 13, 2005 at 11:02 AM:

You do a nice job of lumping all MS web designers into one category.


Bernie Zimmermann on November 13, 2005 at 12:04 PM:

If that's how my post came across, then I probably do a nice job of pissing a few people off, too. I did say "some designers," but when I get heated about stuff like this I tend to say things a little too objectively.

I do try to give credit where credit is due, but I also have to admit that a majority of the time Microsoft web designers tend to do things "the IE way."


Mr. Ignition on November 13, 2005 at 1:07 PM:

Just to nitpick you also wrote, "... anyone else at Microsoft ... is to learn how to design to web standards ..." I think I do a fairly good job at coding to web standards and supporting multiple browsers but as anybody who's a veteran of the NS4 and IE4 wars remembers, it's a moving target that's running uphill.

Sometimes I wish it was as easy as being able to support every browser, the obscure and the not so obscure and follow them pesky W3 specs. But processes, rapid development, limited sections of content to hack on -- all can factor into non-compliance. 99% of the pages I contribute to only give me limited access to the whole page itself and are wrapped in templates which I have zero control over.

As a note.. There are pages across your sites that do not validate and using rounds border corners via tables is lame. :)


Mr. Ignition on November 13, 2005 at 1:11 PM:

Btw.. I enjoy and read from it fairly regularly.


Bernie Zimmermann on November 13, 2005 at 1:48 PM:

Mr. Ignition, again I'm sorry if my overgeneralization put you in a class of web designers you'd rather not be associated with. I feel your pain when it comes to all the hoops one has to jump through to get a website working correctly in all the different browsers and versions out there.

I realize there are a whole number of reasons why under certain circumstances standards either can't be met or one has to make the unfortunate call of releasing a website without "support" for a particular browser. My feeling is that Firefox should no longer have "afterthought" status, meaning that when things need to get cut, Firefox support should not be one of the things on the list.

And as for the invalid pages in my site, the only invalid code I know if is in old post content, from back in the day when I didn't know better and put bare ampersands in my links, or tried embedding unordered lists inside paragraphs. Some day I hope to go through and edit all my old posts for validation's sake, but given that I've been doing this for a few years now, that will take a while.

Thanks for stopping by and for making your voice heard here.


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