Coding with Jesse

Testing Web Pages with Lynx

October 19th, 2008

If you're not familiar, Lynx is the most basic web browser, found on Unix and Linux servers. There are no photos, just pure text, links and forms.

You're probably wondering why you would ever think about supporting a browser that's based in a console window. Does anyone actually browse the web from a bash shell?

Basically, here's the benefit: if you know it works in Lynx, you know it works everywhere. Lynx doesn't have JavaScript or CSS available, and there are no images. It doesn't get more limited than that.

And actually, a lot of the traffic to your site is viewing things in this HTML-only form. I'm talking about search-engine spiders, bots, and people stuck using text-only devices such as screen readers.

So run through your site with Lynx now and then. You will be able to see at a glance if there is enough hidden or alternate text on the page to be useful to search engines and the blind. You'll also be able to ensure that forms and functionality are available to absolutely everyone, even people browsing under Bash!

Update: I just discovered Seebot, a web app which lets you browse the web the same text-only way Lynx (and bots) do.

Hallelujah! IE8 Passes the Acid2 Test

December 20th, 2007

We thought this day would never come: Internet Explorer 8 now renders the "Acid2 Face" correctly in IE8 standards mode!

Apparently we can expect to see Internet Explorer 8 in at least Beta form in early 2008. According to the IE blog:

The key goal (for the Web Standards Project as well as many other groups and individuals) is interoperability. As a developer, I’d prefer to not have to write the same site multiple times for different browsers. Standards are a (critical!) means to this end, and we focus on the standards that will help actual, real-world interoperability the most.

Sounds like the IE team has finally seen the light! :)

Safari for Windows

June 12nd, 2007

Good news for all Windows-based web developers: Safari for Windows is now available (via).

Hopefully this means that we can make our web sites even more cross-browser (and hopefully doesn't just add another browser with its own quirky differences).

Multiple IEs

November 28th, 2006

This week, I installed TredoSoft's Multiple IE package (via friendly bit). It's an installer for Internet Explorer standalone versions 3, 4.01, 5.01, 5.5 and 6. It's based on evolt's standalone versions, but packed up in a nice installer. It even fixes some problems with cookies and conditional comments.

Check it out, it's a great package to have installed, and makes it a lot easier and cleaner to get all the old IEs running on your system. (You're all testing your web sites in IE 3, aren't you???)

Running both Internet Explorer 6 and 7

September 5th, 2006

When the first beta of Internet Explorer 7 came out, the biggest complaint was that there was no easy way to have it run as a standalone browser. You're pretty much forced to upgrade your whole system to use it.

I took the plunge anyway, deciding I'd rather run IE7, but I ran into all sorts of situations where I really needed IE6 for debugging.

There are a lot of hacks and instructions for taking apart the IE7 beta so that you can run it standalone. I've decided that the extremely easier solution is to just install IE7, then download the standalone of IE6.

Now that the Release Candidate is out, you probably don't want IE6 to be your main browser anymore, right? So why not just have it around for the few times when you really need it?

Swift: Safari for Windows?

August 14th, 2006

I just heard about Swift (via Chris Messina). Swift is a port of WebKit for Windows. WebKit is the rendering engine behind Safari (in the same way Gecko is behind Firefox and Mozilla). So I figure, sweet! Safari for Windows!

I had some problems though. On one of my PCs, WebKit.dll couldn't be registered so the installation failed. Weird.

On my other PC, I got Swift installed no problem. I ran it and.. well.. let's just say it's clearly Alpha software. Not only is the user interface extremely bare minimum (you're not going to make this your default browser any time soon), the functionality is a bit iffy. For example, it crashed when I clicked a normal link.

Perhaps it will help you see how WebKit will render your page.. but I wouldn't rely on it. I had a password field go missing, and buttons are styled with CSS whereas I'm pretty sure they aren't in Safari.

It seems there is also a problem with JavaScript. JavaScript executes, sometimes, but I had a problem getting popups to launch, or to load my new Google ads. Okay, maybe you won't miss popups and ads, but what else will break?

I give massive kudos to WebKit and Chris Fuenty for putting this together. It's not there yet, but I can't wait until it is. Having a port of WebKit on Windows will help web developers without Macs immensely. Maybe one day Swift will even become a major player in the browser market.

Rich Text Editing in Opera 9

June 23rd, 2006

This happened a few days ago, but I didn't think to blog about it until now for some reason: Opera 9 has been released. There are a lot of changes to it, the most notable (to me anyway) is the presence of Rich Text Editing, otherwise known as contentEditable or designMode. Click here for a demo and documentation. I've had a chance to play around with it and it works very well using existing code from Firefox and Internet Explorer. It seems there are some minor differences for really specific things, but overall I was suprised at how compatible it was right out of the box.

Now if only Safari's rich text editing could get this sophisticated...

There are other big changes that look great, but I won't bother listing them all here. Go take a look at the release notes for that.

Yahoo! figures it out

June 10th, 2006

When early versions of Internet Explorer 7 were released, it was clear that IE would now have a search toolbar like Firefox. It was also clear that this would default to use MSN, rather than the Firefox default of Google. Google freaked out and tried to sue Microsoft, but the Justice Department said it was OK and prevented Google from doing anything about it. Google's strategy was to continue to promote Firefox, as well as give instructions to IE 7 users on how to change their default search engine.

Now, Yahoo! has released a customized version of IE 7 beta which presets the homepage and search bar to Yahoo!. Rather than fight the beast, they've embraced it and made things even easier for people who still prefer Internet Explorer. Good move, Yahoo!.

Disclaimer: I only use Internet Explorer for testing. Firefox is definitely the way to go for day-to-day surfing.