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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.

tony at Mar 22, 2005, 11:16am EST

What makes you think I hate MS? I may hate IE, but that’s because it’s a poor product (i.e., not standards compliant). I have more css/javascript hacks in my code because of IE than because of Safari. I’m also not an Apple zealot, the only reason I have a Mac is so I can test web apps on Safari. I never use it for anything else.

I’m sure that once IE7 comes out, my opinion of IE will change, but IE6 is a compatibility nightmare.

As a developer, I think the main goal is to provide a positive user experience. To achieve that, it’s necessary to support IE6 as well. Not supporting IE isn’t a viable option.

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