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A Linux blog to share any hints, tips, ebuilds, and insight I have picked up along the way. My interests mainly lie in security, photography, the web, and multimedia.

Sunday, August 31, 2008

Web 2.0 Browser shootout

When I hear "Web 2.0" I think about the next generation of interactive, networked interfaces. Some of these new interfaces will not be attached to a browser at all but many will remain browser-centric, or will at least will be rendered using W3C standards. There are a lot of technologies like Flash and Silverlight that are helping to drive Web 2.0 forward but ultimately the oldest form of client side automation, javascript, is and will continue to be the preferred solution because of its entrenched usage and frameworks like AJAX and JSON. Adding to this is the recent javascript improvements from the Webkit team and the Gecko team. Soon we will be processing javascript at near native code speed.

As you can see from my previous javascript benchmarks the current leader is Gecko when it comes to performance of a stable release rendering engine. Webkit does very well in the SVN version and will be an excellent javascript performer when the current Squirrelfish implementation is stabilized. From the benchmarks released for tracemonkey we will see even greater improvement in javascript when xulrunner 1.9.1 is released. That is estimated to be about 3 months out at this point. Currently 64 bit is not supported as I figured out in an attempt to test tracemonkey performance. Opera seems a long way from Gecko and Webkit when it comes to javascript performance but the browser itself is featureful and Opera produces an excellent mobile browser which will only become increasingly important in years to come.

The next important piece to the Web 2.0 puzzle is standards compliance. This has become increasinly important as more browsers have shown up on the average users' radar. Mac users have Safari (Webkit), Opera and Firefox (Gecko), Linux users have Gecko browsers, KHTML from which Webkit is derived, and Opera, Windows users have Opera, Safari, IE, and Firefox. As you can see only IE is not cross-platfrom. The Unix version of IE died a long time ago and the Mac version more recently but there is no recent version of IE that is supported on another OS other than a Microsoft one. On mobile devices a variety a browsers are offered. Opera is offered on many different platforms. Gecko and Webkit, being open source can be ported to many different platforms and have already been ported to some. IE stands alone again as a MS only product. For this reason I think that IE has a limited future in Web 2.0. Not everything runs a MS OS and this isn't going to change in the future in fact I think this fact is only going to become more pronounced as mobile devices become more popular.

The infamous Acid tests test W3C CSS compliance. The current test is Acid3. It tests CSS3 compliance. Browsers are on their way to achieving Acid3 conformance and in fact a previous SVN build of Webkit passed the Acid3 test but current versions do not. Here is how the current Webkit scores:



Unfortunately at this point Midori (using Webkit) crashes in addition to failing Acid3. The current unstable Xulrunner (Gecko) doesn't crash and make it farther in the test but the visual results aren't quite as good:



The unstable version of Xulrunner produces better results while still not passing:



Opera does okay but still isn't there yet either:



Testing IE with Acid3 shows similary half baked solutions but I don't have the results to show because I don't have Windows on this computer. It makes it to 71 with all gray boxes before it quits, much like the current Gecko engine. Regardless I think IE is going to have very little to do with the Web 2.0 revolution compared to other browsers simply because it is not cross platform.

Taking into consideration both javascript performance and acid3 compliance only Webkit and Gecko seems ready to take on Web 2.0 full force. They both have excellent javascript speed and are getting to acid3 compliance quicker than other browsers. Opera is a good browser but I think they might be better served working on Webkit and integrating it with their web browser than continuing their own engine. This would save resources to work on other aspects of the browser while retaining an excellent browsing experience. Gecko has made huge strides and continues to do so. In the future I think we will be talking about Webkit vs Gecko as opposed to IE vs Netscape like we did over ten years ago. Ultimately both engines are going to drive Web 2.0 development much more so than the alternatives.

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write(msg)

A Linux blog to share any hints, tips, ebuilds, and insight I have picked up along the way. My interests mainly lie in security, photography, the web, and multimedia.

Sunday, August 31, 2008

Web 2.0 Browser shootout

When I hear "Web 2.0" I think about the next generation of interactive, networked interfaces. Some of these new interfaces will not be attached to a browser at all but many will remain browser-centric, or will at least will be rendered using W3C standards. There are a lot of technologies like Flash and Silverlight that are helping to drive Web 2.0 forward but ultimately the oldest form of client side automation, javascript, is and will continue to be the preferred solution because of its entrenched usage and frameworks like AJAX and JSON. Adding to this is the recent javascript improvements from the Webkit team and the Gecko team. Soon we will be processing javascript at near native code speed.

As you can see from my previous javascript benchmarks the current leader is Gecko when it comes to performance of a stable release rendering engine. Webkit does very well in the SVN version and will be an excellent javascript performer when the current Squirrelfish implementation is stabilized. From the benchmarks released for tracemonkey we will see even greater improvement in javascript when xulrunner 1.9.1 is released. That is estimated to be about 3 months out at this point. Currently 64 bit is not supported as I figured out in an attempt to test tracemonkey performance. Opera seems a long way from Gecko and Webkit when it comes to javascript performance but the browser itself is featureful and Opera produces an excellent mobile browser which will only become increasingly important in years to come.

The next important piece to the Web 2.0 puzzle is standards compliance. This has become increasinly important as more browsers have shown up on the average users' radar. Mac users have Safari (Webkit), Opera and Firefox (Gecko), Linux users have Gecko browsers, KHTML from which Webkit is derived, and Opera, Windows users have Opera, Safari, IE, and Firefox. As you can see only IE is not cross-platfrom. The Unix version of IE died a long time ago and the Mac version more recently but there is no recent version of IE that is supported on another OS other than a Microsoft one. On mobile devices a variety a browsers are offered. Opera is offered on many different platforms. Gecko and Webkit, being open source can be ported to many different platforms and have already been ported to some. IE stands alone again as a MS only product. For this reason I think that IE has a limited future in Web 2.0. Not everything runs a MS OS and this isn't going to change in the future in fact I think this fact is only going to become more pronounced as mobile devices become more popular.

The infamous Acid tests test W3C CSS compliance. The current test is Acid3. It tests CSS3 compliance. Browsers are on their way to achieving Acid3 conformance and in fact a previous SVN build of Webkit passed the Acid3 test but current versions do not. Here is how the current Webkit scores:



Unfortunately at this point Midori (using Webkit) crashes in addition to failing Acid3. The current unstable Xulrunner (Gecko) doesn't crash and make it farther in the test but the visual results aren't quite as good:



The unstable version of Xulrunner produces better results while still not passing:



Opera does okay but still isn't there yet either:



Testing IE with Acid3 shows similary half baked solutions but I don't have the results to show because I don't have Windows on this computer. It makes it to 71 with all gray boxes before it quits, much like the current Gecko engine. Regardless I think IE is going to have very little to do with the Web 2.0 revolution compared to other browsers simply because it is not cross platform.

Taking into consideration both javascript performance and acid3 compliance only Webkit and Gecko seems ready to take on Web 2.0 full force. They both have excellent javascript speed and are getting to acid3 compliance quicker than other browsers. Opera is a good browser but I think they might be better served working on Webkit and integrating it with their web browser than continuing their own engine. This would save resources to work on other aspects of the browser while retaining an excellent browsing experience. Gecko has made huge strides and continues to do so. In the future I think we will be talking about Webkit vs Gecko as opposed to IE vs Netscape like we did over ten years ago. Ultimately both engines are going to drive Web 2.0 development much more so than the alternatives.

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