Next generation browsers entering the arena
Tuesday, November 20, 2007 3:45:21 PM
With the release of Firefox 3 beta today, and the recent release of Safari 3 final joining the beta release of Opera 9.5 kestrel, all the major players bar one have entered the battle field. The Internet Explorer team are still keeping their eight generation browser close to their chest. While Safari 3 has shown its full hand by shipping as a stable release, both Kestrel and Firefox still have time to add features, standards support and polish.
Ignoring IE8, as that would just be guess work, what does this generation of browsers have in store for us at this moment in time? For web designers and developers, standards support is one of the most important details. I'm in the process of comparing these browsers to see how their CSS support stacks up against each other, using the 2007 CSS snapshot as a base. I'm using the current internal build of Opera Kestrel (more or less the same as the last weekly), and the aforementioned Firefox 3 beta and Safari 3 final.
As previously reported, the CSS snapshot includes CSS2.1, CSS3 Selectors, CSS3 Namespaces and CSS3 Colour. While I haven't completed any tests in detail yet, I've done some tests and have a feeling that Opera Kestrel will come out on top. Excluding bugs, Kestrel supports all CSS 2.1 properties and values except one -
visibility: collapse. I've not checked the latest changes to this spec however. I'm also not sure if the bugs in the CSS2.1 test suite have been fixed yet. The test suite is huge, so will take a good while to go through, especially for 3 browsers. For CSS3 Colour, I've made a preliminary support chart on CSS3.info. Firefox leads in this regard, with Opera behind due to not supporting the alpha channel on RGB and HSL. Once alpha channel support is added both will get fixed however. The browser support chart for Selectors is in need of an update, but running the selectors test on the same site shows that Opera passes all tests, while Safari and Firefox still have some issues. This isn't strictly accurate as Opera doesn't have
::selection support, and does have some known bugs. There is a more in-depth test suite that I'll go through. It is fairly certain Opera wins out here though. For CSS3 Namespaces, it is pretty much even, with all browsers supporting
@namespace, although of the five tests I did find, Safari has one issue, while Firefox and Opera both pass all of the test. Overall I think that each of these browsers has fairly good support for the CSS 2007 snapshot, but Opera should be in pole position for the moment. I could be wrong, and things could change before Firefox and Opera release stable versions, and Safari could even release a stable point release before each vendor releases their final product. Who knows, IE could come and surprise us all as the dark horse in the pack.