Browser Wars: Surf Victoriously!

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browser wars Browser Wars: Surf Victoriously!

In 1991, the very first web browser was released. Named ‘Nexus’, it had very basic capabilities, and could not display much more than the most simple stylesheet.

Thankfully, technology has evolved a long way and there are now many options depending on your surfing preferences. Browsers are now able to display everything from a spreadsheet to a feature-length movie. While evolution brings choice, this is not necessarily a good thing. Now, we are faced with the problem of choosing and recommending a browser which is intuitive for both developers and users. Firefox or Internet Explorer? Chrome or Safari? Opera or Netscape? Flock? Camino? Sea Monkey? It certainly is a difficult choice. However, this article should help you to weigh out the Pros and Cons of each browser.

Google Chrome

Google Chrome was released by Google in December 2008, with promises that it would load websites significantly faster, and only one tab would crash, not the entire window.

One largely significant downfall to the browser, however, is the fact that it has no built in RSS reader. If you are rely a lot on your RSS for daily information, be warned that Chrome may not be for you. For example, when reading an RSS feed, the user is presented with many lines of text in a single block, with no spaces, which makes for a rather unpleasant reading experience.

Security is obviously paramount to any developer. Chrome regularly downloads blacklists of malicious websites, to protect the user from viruses and malware.

The user interface is very plain and simple, and there is currently no possibility to expand Chrome with plugins.
In conclusion, Google Chrome should be recommended to users of a website, but I would not recommend it for use by developers.

Development Tools: 2/10
Security: 6/10
Speed: 8/10
Reliability: 7/10
Interface: 5/10

This means that Google Chrome has scored 28/50, but how will it fare against Firefox and Internet Explorer?

Firefox

Firefox is a development-focused browser which was created by Mozilla. The browser is open source, which means users and developers had a say in how it was made. The best thing about Firefox is that it has many development tools built in, such as an expanded page source viewer, a javascript debugging tool and a real-time DOM inspector/editor. However, if the standard tools do not quench your development thirst, then Firefox has literally hundreds of “add-ons” which can be installed to your requirement.

The security for Firefox is standard for most browsers, but again, there are many plugins which can be downloaded to enhance the security of the browser. Firefox is well laid out, but the top quarter of the screen is dominated with toolbars and such, but these can easily be removed.
All in all, Firefox is a useful tool for the developer, and comes with some great stuff as standard.

Development Tools: 8/10
Security: 5/10
Speed: 6/10
Reliability: 7/10
Interface: 6/10

This means that Firefox has scored 32/50. How will Internet Explorer fare against this score?

Internet Explorer

Internet Explorer is the default browser packaged with Microsoft Operating System. It is certainly not renowned for its development tools, and offers only a ‘developer toolbar’ download. The developer toolbar includes the tools which Firefox has generically. Many security vulnerabilities have been associated with Internet Explorer. The main way that hackers exploit the browser is through the ActiveX controls that it routinely uses. All a hacker has to do is write a malicious ActiveX control and then they can access all of your files.

Internet Explorer also includes a tool called the ‘Favorites Center’, which is a glorified version of the favorites toolbar.
The browser is typically very slow to load, and with security vulnerabilities, it’s not the ideal developers browser.

Development Tools: 6/10
Security: 3/10
Speed: 5/10
Reliability: 7/10
Interface: 7/10

Internet Explorer has scored 28/50, meaning that Firefox is most likely the best browser to use as a web developer or a graphic designer.

We’ve talked about Firefox tools before on Elbowruminations but if you are looking for more, check out this post by Speckyboy.

If you’re looking for an easy way to make sure your page looks good across all browsers or platforms, check out Browsershots.

And finally, for an exhaustive list of browsers and their history, wikipedia is the place to go.