Wednesday 3 February 2016

Whatever happend to the web browser?

It is over 20 years ago that Mosaic and Netscape opened our eyes to the internet.

By the end of the 1990's it looked like a tick-in-the-box. There were lots of different graphical web browsers and they all seemed to work and show web pages in much the same way.

So what a surprise to find in the 2010's that so many of the leading brands are just, well, broken!

This has been a problem to me in my [part-time] working life where we have had to roll-out Chromium to our users in addition to our Internet Explorer standard offering. The reason is that some sites don't render or function properly on IE. Rather surprisingly we found that IE did not work properly on some Microsoft pages!

However, the Google browser has a different set of issues, so we can't make the switch from IE and get back to just using one browser.

Now it's personal

I think the final straw for me was yesterday, when I found the video on my most recent post on this blog was not playable on Firefox running on Lubuntu. Not only "not playable" but I don't even see a box outline where the video should be.

A quick review of earlier posts shows I can no longer view any of the video on any of my posts! So something has gone wrong for me, on this laptop at least, quite recently.

I can see and run the video from the blogger editor in preview mode. Back in Firefox when viewing the final page, if I right-click over the area where the video should be I get the Flash pop-up menu.

Having just installed Chromium on my Linux laptop I get this:-

If I open my blog in good old Midori or use epiphany-browser my videos play just fine, although Midori on a RaspberryPi just gives me a black box.

Internet Explorer and Firefox on Windows 7 seem to be OK

With Safari on iPad there is just a gap where the video should be.

Another site that is a problem with Firefox is my internet bank. Firefox just freezes, but again Midori works fine.

What is the solution?

Someone will probably say "Well, if you Google the problem, for your particular browser you probably need to change computer settings, upgrade/downgrade Flash, go to about:config and fiddle with some other stuff".

But the truth is that there is a whole bunch of issues here, which I suspect relate to non-compliance with specifications/standards. And the problem for anyone posting videos on a blog is that a large number of visitors will not be able to view them and simply go away, never to return!

All I can say is "Sorry".

Maybe when we reach the 2020's we will look back and laugh at these crazy problems. Let's hope so.

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