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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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Safari Nightly
By dagamer34 on 3/6/2008 12:17:21 AM , Rating: 0
Latest Safari nightly gets 90/100. I hardly consider that murder, more like a papercut.

Now IE6? That's murder. I won't even say what score it got.

RE: Safari Nightly
By Brandon Hill on 3/6/2008 12:22:27 AM , Rating: 2
I wouldn't consider a nightly build as release software either...

AFAICT, the browsers that failed Acid3 were release versions.

RE: Safari Nightly
By Targon on 3/6/2008 7:22:14 AM , Rating: 2
Notice the article says that the BETA versions are doing better. There is nothing to imply that the release versions are doing well at this point. The beta versions are currently at 80 to 90 percent correct for ACID 3, which is a good improvement from the current release versions.

Of course, the whole point of a major version number change SHOULD be that there is a significant improvement in how things work. Just because AOL does nothing but minor changes and adding a few features when they release a new version does not mean that the entire industry should follow that example. Firefox is going to version 3.0, a major version change. IE for a change of pace is getting a significant overhaul in the rendering engine as well.

RE: Safari Nightly
By Benji XVI on 3/6/2008 10:17:04 AM , Rating: 3
Currently released Safari gets 39.

One good thing about the faster development/release cycles of Firefox & Safari is we can expect them to get the issues that Acid3 raises fixed fairly rapidly.

I keep realising just how nice it is to have competition in the browser space again.

RE: Safari Nightly
By s3th2000 on 3/6/2008 5:55:01 AM , Rating: 2
well i wont say what my IE7 got, simply because i cant even read the score... My IE and Firefox looks exactly the same as the dailytech pictures

RE: Safari Nightly
By kattanna on 3/6/2008 9:47:42 AM , Rating: 5
safari is not a real browser, LOL

RE: Safari Nightly
By MrBungle on 3/6/2008 3:30:14 PM , Rating: 2
IE6 is a moot point since it's not a current browser. Of course it's going to fail this test.

What's sad is that IE8 will likely fail this test to a large degree, and that's the weakest link in the chain, the lowest common denominator. Regardless of what Safari is getting, since it has such a minuscule market share, we're going to have to continue to spend most of our development time compensating for IE8's shortcomings.

RE: Safari Nightly
By peritusONE on 3/6/2008 6:00:10 PM , Rating: 2
Wow, you could atleast wait for IE8 to get close to release before dogging it. I know you Microsoft bashers are always out in full force, but damn, the first beta just released yesterday. Give it a few months and a few betas before you start claiming it's horrible.

RE: Safari Nightly
By MrBungle on 3/7/2008 6:50:25 PM , Rating: 3
I don't know how you could extrapolate that I'm a "Microsoft basher" based on my few comments about IE8.

Point is, as a web developer, I've wasted many hours of my life tweaking markup to comply with Microsoft's ass-backward browser. Some of that time is billable, yes, but I'm sure my clients wouldn't appreciate MS any more knowing that their money is not going toward anything but troubleshooting and workarounds.

Forgive me, but if I've used a product for many, many hours, and that product sucks, yet I'm forced to continue using it to make a living, do I not have a right to complain? Would I be stupid to assume that, based on past experience, some research and a little deductive reasoning, MS's future browser versions might not be so great either?

If you like Microsoft, great, sorry I pissed on your cereal. I don't like Internet Explorer. Shoot me.

"Well, there may be a reason why they call them 'Mac' trucks! Windows machines will not be trucks." -- Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer
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