Arman's stuff
JavaScript, CSS, Flash, and Java (and SVG)

(Mon Oct 19 12:31:05 2009)

Ah, web technology. Driving men mad since 1990.

As a budding web developer, I've been thinking about all those wonderful web-related technologies a lot recently. Things like browser type, browser version, quirks mode, syntax... the list goes on. Really, though, it boils down to what supports what, and how much effort you want to put in to supporting it yourself.

For example. Opera 6 through 9 use JavaScript version 1.5; Firefox 1.0 uses 1.5, but as versions of Firefox changed, so did it's JavaScript version - FF 3.5 uses JS version 1.8.1. In other words, if you want to use JS v. 1.5 stuff, go ahead; only browsers like IE 4 or Netscape 4 use anything less.

JavaScript, at least, isn't too hard to pin down. Which is more than can be said about CSS - every browser out there defines parts of it differently; everything non-IE do a pretty good job at maintaining standards, but none are fully standards compliant. And once you add IE into the mix... whew. Yuck. Even if it were ONLY Internet Explorer, quirks mode and browser differences mean that you'd still be coding for 3-6 different interpretations of your page.

Then there are the even worse cases - neither Flash nor Java are tied to the browser version, so it's possible to have a new browser with old Java, or an old browser with new Java. Which is why I try to stay away from both Java and Flash...

Which brings me to SVG. Assuming you don't want full motion video and sound (like a game or YouTube), just about every Flash application out there could be replaced with SVG. But why? Isn't flash good enough? Yeah... except that instead of a big ol' binary file, SVG is text-based. Which means that instead of writing horrible javascript-to-Flash code, you could write a little bit of javascript to do a lot with SVG. Say, for instance, you want users to be able to choose what colors your site uses. If you write the site for Opera, every graphic you use could be built right into the page! Want another color, or style, or whatever? Change a single line of code, and you're making blue icons instead of red ones. Combined with XML, SVG is just flat-out awesome - throw a bit of XML data into a style sheet, and you get a full color bar graph. Same document with a different style sheet? Now it's a pie chart. Awesome!

But back to compatibility. Opera, Firefox, and Safari all support SVG. The only major browser with no support is IE. With (hard-to-find) plugins, IE gains a little support, but not much. Why? Because of Silverlight. It seems Silverlight is going to be the "next big thing" (if we believe Microsoft). So, instead of building support for existing web standards into their browsers, MS is up to its old tricks, making new, non-standard, proprietary code to try to force the competition to use their stuff.

Remember what happened the last time Microsoft went off and made up their own standards? Marquee and blink tags! Madness! IT'S MADNESS I TELL YOU!

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This blag is tagged: Browsers, Css, Flash, Insane, Java, Javascript, Svg, All