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The reference rendering for how the Acid3 test should look.  (Source: Web Standards Project/DailyTech)

Current versions of both Internet Explorer 7 (top) and Firefox 2 (bottom) fail the Acid3 test catastrophically.  (Source: Tom Corelis/DailyTech)
Putting browser makers on notice, again

Just a few months after the announcement that Internet Explorer 8 successfully passed the Acid2 standards compliance test, the Web Standards Project (WaSP) announced last Monday that it unleashed Acid2’s successor, Acid3.

Created to identify flaws in the way a browser renders its web pages, WaSP’s Acid tests throw down the gauntlet with difficult-to-display graphics written to accentuate browsers’ quirks. When the original Acid test was released in 1998, it helped reign in browser inconsistencies and insured that Internet Explorer, Netscape, and others handled HTML code according to specification – making web designers’ lives easier and ensuring the web rendered consistently in the future.

Acid2, with its focus on Cascading Style Sheets, seems quaint in comparison to Acid3’s objectives, which target major web standards expected to see use today and in the future. Tests are derived from many of the last few years’ development in the web’s control languages, including rendering graphics embedded in HTML code, CSS3 compliance, DOM compliance, CSS2 downloadable fonts, as well as handling new graphics formats and Unicode support.

Currently, no known browser is able to correctly render the Acid3 test, which displays an animated, incrementing score counter and a series of colored boxes with some description text. Bloggers have already assembled galleries of browsers’ failing test results, with most of today’s browsers scoring between 40 and 60 on the test’s 100-point scale. The results shouldn’t be too alarming as the Acid tests have always been forward-looking in nature, and are designed to measure standards to aspire to, as opposed to what’s current. Also note that more than six months lapsed between Acid2’s release and Safari 2.02’s announcement that it was the first to pass Acid2.

Anecdotal reports around the web seem to indicate that nightly builds of the next versions of Firefox and Safari are reportedly achieving Acid3 scores in the 80-90 range.

Given the state of the web today – where web designers will often write two versions of a web site: one for Internet Explorer and one for everyone else – Microsoft’s announcement that Internet Explorer 8 passed Acid2 is all the more important. Currently, each new version of Internet Explorer keeps older versions’ flaws for compatibility, resulting in a confusing state of affairs for web developers.

The release of IE7 complicated matters further, as it shipped with both an IE6-compatibility mode and a somewhat-standards-compliant IE7 rendering mode, with an easily overlooked method for switching between the two.  As a result, Internet Explorer earned a nasty reputation among web design circles, with developers writing safe, proven websites that worked universally instead of rich websites that exercised their languages’ full features.

In time, it is hoped that Internet Explorer 8 will see the end of this rift, as it will ship with the new Acid2-passing standards-compliant mode switched on and used by default. For those that want to test Internet Explorer 8 out on your own, Microsoft already released the Beta 1 version of the browser.

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how do they know?
By johnsonx on 3/6/2008 12:12:49 AM , Rating: 4
Currently, no known browser is able to correctly render the Acid3 test

Then how do they know what it's supposed to look like?

RE: how do they know?
By glenn8 on 3/6/2008 2:40:20 AM , Rating: 3
From the reference rendering?

RE: how do they know?
By jtesoro on 3/6/2008 5:31:17 AM , Rating: 2
One can think of it as if it's some sort of development project with formal programming practices. One creates Test Data which is processed by a program to deliver the Expected Results. Test data for an online screen (for example) could be product description, picture and price. The expected results could be painted using Photoshop showing that the product description should be here, the picture should be here, the price should be here, etc.

In Acid's case, the Test Data is the HTML script, the program is the browser, and the Expected Results is that image with the boxes and the score.

RE: how do they know?
By pauluskc on 3/6/2008 9:45:46 AM , Rating: 3
Because they took the time to read and fully understand the standards. So they can translate that into what its supposed to look like.

Aparently the concept worked for acid2.

RE: how do they know?
By johnsonx on 3/6/2008 2:10:29 PM , Rating: 2
Just so everyone knows, I'm being a bit tongue-in-cheek of course. I get the idea that you can craft code using nothing but a standards manual. I once wrote some clever C code 'from the book' that just wouldn't actually work when compiled... after a day of banging my head, not willing to give up the clever way I did it, I switched compilers... voila, it worked perfectly.

Still one does wonder how they can be 100% certain their code is correct until at least one browser can render it properly (and even then, is it REALLY correct, or just correct for that browser?). In my example above about my C code, if I tried my code on 5 different compilers and it never worked, no matter how perfectly I followed proper syntax, etc., would I really have been so sure to say the compilers were all wrong?

RE: how do they know?
By pauluskc on 3/6/2008 2:37:12 PM , Rating: 2
What? HUMOR????

That just doesn't compute.

"Intel is investing heavily (think gazillions of dollars and bazillions of engineering man hours) in resources to create an Intel host controllers spec in order to speed time to market of the USB 3.0 technology." -- Intel blogger Nick Knupffer
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