Firefox and HTML5

Earlier this evening, I was reminded of just how primitive the HTML5 support was in Firefox 3.5/3.6. While we have seen three major version releases since 3.5, it was actually still the latest version of Firefox less than 6 months ago (and was that way for almost 2 years). Therefore, Firefox 3.5.x still holds a decent amount of market share (probably as much as, if not more than IE6 did a year or two ago). Looking at a handful of websites for which I have analytics data, versions of Firefox prior to 4 still accounted for anywhere between 2% and 15% of the total visits to those sites last month. With all of that information, it’s probably still important to make sure your sites work in versions of Firefox as far back as 3.5.

There are two somewhat major gotchas in the way Firefox 3.x handled HTML5. The first is easily fixed with a few lines of CSS. The second can only really be fixed if you rewrite some of your HTML.

Locating Bugs in Your Javascript Code

If you’re anything like me, you have traditionally used javascript alert boxes to try to identify and diagnose bugs in your javascript code. There are two major issues with this process, though.

  1. It’s extremely inconvenient for your users if you’re trying to debug a live application.
  2. It can be a real problem if you end up in some sort of long/infinite loop and end up outputting multiple alert boxes.

There is a better way, though, and it basically works in Internet Explorer (version 8), Firefox (with the Firebug extension installed), Chrome, Safari and Opera. This is nothing new, by any strecth of the imagination, but it still seems to be a bit of a well-kept secret for a lot of developers.

Cross-Browser Gradient Backgrounds

One of the great new features coming with CSS3 is the ability to use native gradient backgrounds. In addition to saving server resources (no need to call an external image), the gradients tend to be more vibrant and faithful to the original colors than any external images.

So far, none of the modern browsers have agreed on which method to use to implement the gradients, so you will need to utilize a few different methods in order to get it to work in multiple browsers.

Firefox 3.6 Released

Firefox 3.6 was released today – the company notes a 20% speed improvement over version 3.5.  Apparently over 350 million users use Firefox as their browser of choice.

Here’s a list from Firefox of the new features in 3.6:

  • Personas: Personalize the look of your Firefox by selecting new themes called Personas in a single click and without a restart
  • Plugin Updater: To keep you safe from potential security vulnerabilities, Firefox will now detect out of date plugins
  • Stability improvements: Firefox 3.6 significantly decreased crashes caused by third party software – all without sacrificing our extensibility in any way
  • Form Complete: When filling out an online form, Firefox suggests information for fields based on your common answers in similar field
  • Performance: Improved JavaScript performance, overall browser responsiveness, and startup time
  • Open Video and Audio: With the world’s best implementation of HTML 5 audio and video support, now video can be displayed full screen and supports poster frames

And here’s an updates list from the developer side: 

  • Support for the latest HTML5 specification, including the File API for local file handling
  • Font Support: In addition to OpenType and TrueType fonts, 3.6 now supports the new Web Open Font Format WOFF)
  • CSS gradients: Supports linear and radial CSS gradients which allow for a smoother transition between colors
  • Device orientation: Firefox 3.6 exposes the orientation of the laptop or device to Web pages

Feedly Kicks Google Reader’s Butt

First of all, I must admit that I’ve never been a big user of Google Reader. However, the other day, I discovered feedly when they released their plugin for Google Chrome. Feedly is a really nice feed reader, but it’s more than that. For one, feedly is actually integrated with Google Reader, so that any new subscriptions you add in Reader are automatically pulled into feedly and vice versa. Therefore, for everyone that’s actively using Reader, you can easily try out feedly without having to migrate anything over.

Intuit Updates Quickbooks Online

Quickbooks Online still not available for LinuxIntuit has finally updated the Quickbooks Online application that many companies use to track employees’ time. For many, many years, Quickbooks Online has been exclusively available to Internet Explorer users. As of this week, a new version is available that works in Mozilla Firefox on Windows and Safari on Mac. Unfortunately, Intuit automatically redirects to a message explaining that your browser and/or operating system are incompatible with the application if you try to use Chrome, Opera or Safari on Windows or if you try to use any browser on Linux (haven’t tested on Mac, but I’m assuming that it’s the same story if you try to use anything but Safari over there).

There is also a new version of the site that’s compatible with iPhone and Blackberry devices. Oddly, though, you actually have to navigate to the mobile version of the site, rather than Intuit automatically redirecting you. Also, there still seem to be a few bugs in the mobile version, as it keeps telling me that I “don’t have access rights for this company.”

What can possibly be available in Firefox on Windows and Safari on Mac that’s not also available in Chrome or Opera on Windows or any of the browsers in Linux? I’m assuming that they’re loading and utilizing the .NET framework in Firefox on Windows, but I can’t say for sure. If you have any insight into this matter, please share it with me.

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