HTML and CSS Reference
On Choosing a Development Browser
Deciding which web browser you will use as you develop CSS-based sites is a significant
choice. Although different schools of thought exist, most web designers agree that developing
in a solid, reliable, standards-compliant browser (such as Firefox or Safari) is best. This lets you
focus on doing things the “right” way through most of your development. Then, you can go
back after the fact and provide workarounds for less-ideal browsers (such as Internet Explorer).
Trying to develop to the lesser browsers as you go tends to result in more workarounds than
necessary and code that is less clean.
Your mileage may vary, but we recommend using Firefox as your primary development
browser, not only because of its great standards support, but also because of the many great
extensions available for web developers.
Browsers for the Mobile Web
Estimates are there will be over 3 billion cell phone users worldwide by 2009. That's a staggering
number, and especially so for you, the web developer, when you consider that the vast major-
ity of those phones will have web browsers running on them.
Besides cell phones, handheld game consoles like the Sony PlayStation Portable and the
Nintendo DS have web-browsing capabilities, as do many PDAs, such as those powered by
Palm OS, Windows Mobile, and PocketPC.
If you thought the landscape of desktop web browsers was fragmented and confusing,
prepare yourself for an even bigger shock. There are over 200 models of cell phones in use
today from over 25 different major manufacturers with over 30 different web browsers
This new and incredibly fragmented landscape of web browser and devices only further
strengthens the demand for web standards-based development. If you've created your page or
site with clean, semantic (X)HTML and styled it with CSS, you optimize your options for deal-
ing with those visitors hitting your corner of the Web from a phone or other mobile device.
Brian Fling, of the great Seattle-based web studio Blue Flavor ( http://blueflavor.com/ ),
proposes the following four options for the mobile “version” of your site (which may not actually
be a different version at all) in his presentation from WebVisions 2006 ( www.blueflavor.com/
Use Small Screen Rendering (SSR) : Some mobile browsers, such as Opera Mini and Blazer,
automatically optimize your pages for smaller screens, reformatting them where neces-
sary. This technique requires no effort from you, the designer, but also has the significant
disadvantage of only being of service to the relatively small percentage of users who have
these SSR-enabled browsers. Also, from a performance perspective, this method is quite
slow, as it takes time for the SSR processing to occur in these browsers.