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by Tony Chang

All opinions on this site are my own and do not represent those of my employer.

Creative Commons Attribution License

support Safari?

Jan 25, 2005, 12:32am EST



I overheard a discussion the other day from some web application developers about whether or not the application should include Safari support. The application was to include a rich client UI by using lots of javascript, like gMail or webnote. The developers had already decided that Internet Explorer and Mozilla/Firefox would be supported, and the next question was whether or not to support Safari. The obvious arguments against supporting Safari was that it’s a small user base (1% of current traffic was cited) and adding support for Safari would significantly increase development time. The argument for supporting Safari was to increase the user base.

While those are valid reasons on both side, I think an important point was overlooked: supporting Safari makes it easier for everyone to move away from Internet Explorer[1]. Obviously, people who already use Safari as their primary browser have already moved away from IE so they aren’t the people that need to be converted. On the other hand, some users may avoid using Safari, or worse, all Macs because some webpages don’t work. This mentality may prevent the user from trying alternate browsers because of the belief that IE always works while other browsers don’t.

As web developers, I believe that it is our responsibility to try to break this myth. I’m not saying this because I’m some Mac zealot or because I love Safari (I’m not even sure I like Safari), but because I think this opens up opportunities for all alternate browsers, including Firefox. It puts the notion into people’s head that they don’t have to use IE to get a rich web experience; any browser will work and some might even be better than IE.

[1] Of course, an implicit assumption is that not using IE is a good thing. I don’t think I need to argue that point here and now.

Anonymous Coward at Mar 22, 2005, 07:26am EST

But by supporting safari you prevent people from moving to Firefox. People will already move away from Internet Explorer on Macs, that is not an issue at all. Obviously you hate IE and Microsoft, but if we talk about reality, IE on Macs is obsolute anyway. Also you probably will end up wasting too much time to make your program work on Safari, and you may even need to sacrifice features. Instead I would simply support Firefox and IE for Windows. You may be an Apple zealot, but the reality is that Safari is not ready for the prime time. If your purpose as a developer is to bash Microsoft and try to hurt Microsoft, then I agree you should support Safari, but then you shouldn’t support IE at all.

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