Firefox 3 Alpha 1: Acid2

Alpha 1 of Gran Paradiso, or what will eventually become Firefox 3.0, has been released. This release is not for end users; it only consists of backend and rendering changes.

Gran Paradiso Alpha 1 is being made available for testing purposes only, and is intended for web application developers and our testing community. Current users of Mozilla Firefox should not use Gran Paradiso Alpha 1.

Acid2

Boris Zbarsky:

After almost exactly two years of working on it, David Baron landed the reflow branch last night. In addition to fixing numerous bugs (including all remaining Acid2 issues) and improving layout peformance some, the changes significantly simplify, the table column balancing code and block reflow. The landing lays the groundwork for implementing inline-block and inline-table display values, as well as some further optimization work.

This means that Firefox finally passes the Acid2 test. Here’s a screenshot I took:

Acid2 

It is true that other browsers such as Opera and Safari managed to pass the Acid2 test. The Acid2 test actually came at a bad time in the development cycle for Mozilla. Gecko 1.8 was stabilized and trying to get Acid2 to work on it would have been extremely risky. And the next Gecko update after that, 1.9, won’t be used in a Firefox release until version 3.0.

Acid2 also contained a load of useless stuff which web developers are unlikely to need anyway, so not trying to pass the Acid2 test until Firefox 3.0 was a smart move.

Other Changes

According to the release notes, this is what’s new: 

  • Cairo is now being used as the default graphics library, affecting all graphic and text rendering
  • Cocoa Widgets are now used in OS X builds
  • An updated threading model
  • Changes to how DOM events are dispatched (see bug 234455)
  • Changes to how <object> elements are loaded (see bug 1156)
  • Changes to how web pages are painted
  • New SVG elements and filters, and improved SVG specification compliance

 

Uneasy Silence – Blog of the Week

Uneasy Silence is a really great blog about technology, gadgets and random videos on the internet. It’s not easy to describe the target audience of the blog besides "geeks" as it really is quite a diverse blog but there are around eight to twelve posts a day so there’ll almost always be something for everyone.

Cool Mac applications, sign generators, USB eye warmers, cars, "Web 2.0" sites and quirky stories – it has it all.

A fresh supply of stuff to spam your friends on MSN with every day.

Nintendo Wii

Of all the next generation consoles (Xbox 360, Playstation 3, Nintendo Wii), I’ve got to say the Wii does it for me from the marketing. It’s not amazing from a graphics perspective and doesn’t support HD, but who cares!

The Wii Remote is really cool and provides a natural way to interface with games. I’ve seen some demos for Wii Sports which look really nice and I believe that there are first person shooters for the Wii where you can aim with the Remote.

I think the Wii Remote really is the main attraction of the Wii to me. I’m not a hardcore gamer and I’ve always been a casual PC gamer because the controls are just a lot nicer and I can’t see many benefits in games consoles.

The free Opera web browser for the Wii is really nice too. Hook the Wii up to your television and let it connect to your wireless network and you can browse the web on your TV without having to turn the computer on and watch Youtube on your television.

Though Wii Have a Problem does kinda scare me. It seems like the Wiimote has caused ton of people serious damage to windows, television screens and laptops.

Does anybody have the Nintendo Wii? Would you recommend it to a casual PC gamer? Is the Wii Remote really that great or is it overhyped? Or would a PS3/Xbox 360 be more worth the money? 

24 ways – Blog of the Week

It’s not often that I’ll recommend a blog in this section which is only a day old. Well, kinda. This week’s blog of the week is "24 ways to impress your friends". It’s a web development blog which will run for this December as a bit of an advent calendar for web developers.

It’s December 1st so this year’s posts have only just begun. The first post is a "Tasty Text Trimmer" written in Javascript which, well, trims text. They show you how to use the YUI Slider widget combined with a Javascript text trimmer to make something which behaves a bit like Safari’s RSS "Article Length" tool.

If you want to get a feel for the blog, check out last year’s postings. Each scripts and posts is written by a different web developer, many of which are well known names in the web development community.

  • Topics: Web Development, Javascript
  • Reading since: 12th December 2005
  • URL: http://24ways.org/ 

IE6 and IE7 on a single machine

One of the issues with Microsoft’s Internet Explorer 7 is that it isn’t easy to have it running simultaneously on the same machine as Internet Explorer 6.

For web developers, this is a real headache. Many of our visitors still use Internet Explorer 6 so we need to ensure our websites work well on IE6 but IE7 is becoming more popular by the day.

The Virtual Image

The Internet Explorer Team Blog talks about this issue and recognises it. To cut to the chase, the Internet Explorer team recommends using virtualization. This is a way of having a piece of software on your machine behave like it’s a computer. You can run operating systems inside a window in another operating system.

To help developers to that extent, they have released a free virtual machine containing a fully patched Windows XP SP2 with Internet Explorer 6. This will work with Microsoft’s free Virtual PC 2004 software. It’s pre-activated but it’s set up to expire in April 2007.

The IE team say they’ll investigate virtual machines with different versions of Internet Explorer and perhaps having the programme running as a service for developers on a concurrent basis.

Unfortunately you can’t run Virtual PC on Linux so web developers on Linux won’t be able to use this service.

  • You can get a free copy of Windows Server 2003 R2 from Microsoft which lasts 180 days. Presumably this will run in a virtual machine and will have Internet Explorer, etc. but I haven’t tried it.

Standalone IE

Standalone versions of IE are currently one of the most popular ways to have both IE6 and IE7 running on the same machine. You don’t have to worry about installs, virtual machines, etc. Simply download a zip file, extract it and run the relevant copy of iexplore.exe.

I’m currently using this method to test my sites in IE6 and IE5.5. There are several issues with running standalone IE and Microsoft don’t support it. But I find it works pretty well for just having a glance at the layout and it’s certainly a lot better than not testing in IE6 altogether.