Playing the game

Lars Gunther at WaSP just posted an article on ACID3 and what it really means. Though Webkit may be the first truly out the door, what’s really important is playing the game:

In the end the winner is neither Webkit, Opera, Mozilla nor Microsoft, but developers who get more powerful features to work with and more consistency between browsers. And that means that in the long run they are able to focus on user experience, not browser shortcomings. This means that the true winner of Acid3 is anybody who surfs the web.

He also goes on to mention that ACID3 is really only one test, and there are others that test individual components, such as support for JavaScript, SMIL, CSS, SVG, and so on that are more comprehensive.

But the real point of Lars’ writing is that the browsers are playing the game, and in the end, we all benefit when they do. However, I am forced to point out one thing missing from his assessment of what each browser supports: IE does not support SVG. IE has never committed to supporting SVG. It’s unlikely IE will ever support SVG, as it competes with its own Silverlight implementation.

I’m currently creating a suggested class plan for a class in SVG for the WaSP’s web education series. Included in it will be a bullet to cover whatever tools enable an SVG-like experience in IE. However, what works for IE8 probably won’t work for later versions of IE, as we don’t have a commitment from Microsoft as to what it will support, natively, in the future in regards to vector graphics. We can’t agree on what SVG will look like in HTML5 in the future at the moment, true, but we know it will be part of the specification. It will be part of the specification, or the specification won’t gain support, period. However, all indications are that SVG will be an optional component of HTML5, and if this is true, we can never expect to see a native implementation of SVG in IE.

Right now, we have decent implementations of SVG in the other three browsers, the Big Three of Firefox, Webkit/Safari, and Opera. More than that, we have a commitment from the Big Three to continue to support SVG in the future—yes even in whatever ends up in HTML5. We do not have the same from Microsoft. I can appreciate Lars wanting to give all browsers their due, and all due appreciations to Microsoft for finally implementing CSS 2.1, and for donating all the CSS 2.1 test cases, but no native implementation of SVG has inhibited the web developer in the past, and will continue to inhibit the web developer, and hence, the user’s experience, in the future. Microsoft’s checkered implementation of only what it wants to implement in standards makes it more spoiler than player.

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