It’s cool your thing works in Webkit but doesn’t that make it kinda useless?

October 16th, 2010

Today on Hacker News, I saw this link, IE9 is the IE6 of CSS3. The authors point has some validity to it, I’ve said before I’m disappointed in IE9’s CSS3 support but I don’t think it’s as bad as this article makes out to be. And in the comments on Hacker News, a few people made a couple of points I completely agreed with, one being we don’t get to see the HTML or CSS behind the screenshots, so we don’t know if a couple of changes could fix everything. And two, why is he just comparing it to the two major Webkit browsers? Firefox has nearly twice the market share of Safari and Chrome combined. This is something I’ve been noticing a lot, building something that works in Webkit and then say “I didn’t test it in Firefox and of course it won’t work in IE.”

Webkit has become the favorite of developers over the last couple of months, I think for a couple of reasons. First, the two major browsers using Webkit, Chrome and Safari are pushing forward and both have fast JS engines, Chrome especially. Second, a lot of web designers use a Mac and a fair amount of them use Safari as their main browser, so of course you’re going to use the browser you’re comfortable with when you’re building something.

But here’s the thing, most of the people on web, by a vast majority, don’t use Webkit. I switch back and forth between Firefox and Chrome and I try to get everyone I know to use one of them. But the fact is, no matter how great your thing is in Webkit, if it doesn’t work in even Firefox, then it’s useless. At least until the other browsers catch up. At work, my bosses only care that it works right in IE and then Firefox because those are the browsers the clients use and a majority of clients don’t care that there’s more than one browser out there, which is a unfortunate fact. I check them in Chrome and Safari but I’ve never been asked about it.

So really, if your effect or transition or design only works in Webkit then how many people are going to see it? If it’s just an experiment that you made and it’s really only for other designers and developers to look at, then it doesn’t matter. But if it’s something that you think has real commercial value, then you’ll either have to find a way to make it work another way using something like jQuery or you’ll have to wait for the other browsers to catch up. Personally, I wish the CSS3 3D transforms worked in every browser and not just Webkit.

I’m not saying that we shouldn’t be making things that only work in one browser, especially if we’re just doing it show off what the browser or we can do. I’ve made things that only work in Webkit or worse, only work in Firefox 4 beta. But usually those are just to show what the future is going to hold for us. Webkit is great and hopefully IE catches up soon and I’m sure they eventually will. But don’t be a Webkit snob, it’s almost as bad as being an Apple snob.

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