The Second Browser War, HTML 5 and some catching up

I haven’t been posting for a little while. This had nothing to do with lack of enthusiasm or lack of things to write about, but I seriously did not want to spend any time on IT related stuff outside of my work. Yes, yes, it has been again a period of time that all my work existed of nitwits in the field trying to involve themselves with things they have no experience with, and pushing their will through.

You know the deal. Being at work, having collegues and superiors telling you they really know a lot better what to do with their no training and no previous successes, against your training and 20 years of experience on the job, praised by clients and partners.

I know, that is life, you win some, you lose some, and you need to know what battles to pick. And usually, it is not worth even the time or aggravation. But the biggest aggravation right now is the lack of knowledge about what can and cannot be done.

For one project, I have decided to bring in HTML instead of Flash, although I still absolutely favor the use of Flash. But since a lot of people in the office use Apple devices, most of them are in the state of mind that Flash is bad, since Apple does not want it to run on their devices. Which is like telling Darwin was wrong simply because evolution is not part of the Bible; A lot of people agree, but people with knowledge of the matter know better. This is one of the things why I LOVED BlackBerry’s new Playbook commercial on television; “We Run Flash!” – which was practically the whole message of the commercial.

Anyway. So while there has been a sigh of relief when I decided to work with HTML again for one site, people don’t realize that suddenly you are back in the ages of browser wars. The First Browser War (BWI) was played out from about 1997 till 2001 with Internet Explorer on one side and NetScape Navigator on the other.

A browser war has no winners whatsoever. Users have no personal gain in any of the browser winning or losing; but it will take a lot of money for companies to work with the different browsers. And now it is even worse, with making apps or mobile web apps for iOS, BlackBerry, Android or even plain mobile browsers.

But it is not only that why I hate being back caught in the Browser War; but there is so much possibility lacking. Designers nowadays are not trained to know what can and can’t be done in HTML and HTML+CSS sites compared to Flash or Silverlight productions. For example, I work with one designer who can’t get rid of using Avenir as a font in all his designs for this project.

Avenir has two major problems: It has not bold state. This means, even when you import it in Flash, you cannot use bold and regular texts trough each other, because  the bold and the regular texts are two different fonts. And since Flash cannot handle two fonts in one TextField, it is end-game.

On the other hand, in plain HTML, forget about using any un-installed fonts. No matter how much you wish for it, you cannot plainly use uninstalled fonts and expect more then 40% of all the browsers to be able to cope with it.

But believe me, that font has caused a lot of problems. Because designers lost their way with knowing what can and can’t be done on certain platforms. Can I blame the designer? Sure, partially. Because when you hire someone, you might expect that person to know what he or she is doing. But on the other hand, the browser war is absolutely causing this too. Not only as a designer, you need to be so aware of the differences between the different browsers; what works on one, does not work on the other.

HTML 5 and CSS3? As I mentioned before in a posting, since it is first of all not even a defined standard, it is actually not of complete use yet. The other thing of interest is, even though you can use it now, and soon you can use it fully, it will take still up to 3 years before more than 90% of the browsers can accept your code… if we are lucky.

And this is why I really cannot stand Apple’s attitude. There is one technology in the world that was supported by more browsers than Java script, reached almost a 100% of market integration – which means almost all people can see. It made sure all of the incompatibilities were dealt with – or almost all – which saved a lot of companies a lot of time and money, and provided users with a more stable environment too.

And then Apple comes along and says ‘No!’. Keep in mind, this is not because of their ‘battery draining’ arguement, that ZD-Net had displaced long ago already with showing and testing the Flash player on Android and BlackBerry machines. But simply because of a dispute between the former partners in crime; Adobe and Apple. Because that’s it.

In my opinion, businesses should demand Apple to accept Flash, and make it at least a possibility to run on an iPad. It would make the world of designers, developers and users a lot easier and more streamlined. It would cut production times in half, and build stronger teams. And I would rather put my time in learning new possibilities in a technology to advance, than to put that time into learning how to make old things work for each and everyone.

Sure, it is only my two cents… but a company’s millions of dollars worth…

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