Like many people my age, I’ve been browsing the web since I was relatively young, but the day the family got “the internet” was like none other. Even though it was deathly slow, there was an enormous feeling of a sudden connection to the world. The browser of choice at the time was Internet Explorer (circa version 4 or 5.) Fast forward to 2004, when someone introduced me to what would become my new favorite browser, “Firefox”. At the time, Firefox was the snappiest, safest and coolest browser I knew of. The love for Firefox continued for years.
It wasn’t until early 2008 that I started to second-guess Firefox’s superiority. When web design started turning into more than a hobby, I really noticing the differences between web browsers. I was hesitant to completely jump to a new platform, and when Firefox started crashing, running slow and being buggy at times, I told myself “oh, it’s probably just a bug that they’ll iron out.” It got to the point where I’d click on the icon to launch Firefox, and it would take 15-30 seconds just to launch the application. That’s marked the first time I seriously considered jumping ship, and I did.
Right around the time Chrome was coming out of beta, I had decided it was time to really dig in and see what the fuss about Webkit was. I had been hearing a lot of buzz about it in the web community, so I did a “test run” of each Safari and Chrome, one whole week of using each browser and none other. After doing this, I couldn’t convince myself to go back to Firefox; I would choose between Safari and Chrome.
To this day, I still go back and forth between Safari and Chrome, although Chrome is most of the time my browser of choice, because it seems to be a bit snappier than Safari, although the speed differences are nearly unnoticeable. The main point is that I’ve settled on one platform, WebKit, and here’s why I think it’s the best:
Chrome and Safari (in my experiences) have been consistently faster, both to launch and to run than Firefox, Internet Explorer, Opera, etc. Speed is the most noticeable aspect of using a web browser.
To me, the next most important aspect of a browser is it’s User Interface. Chrome and Safari seem to have the most intuitive UI’s in the gang (minus a couple very small annoyances with Safari, notably the Refresh button being on the far side of the Address bar). Although both have their own feel and color schemes, etc., they both maintain simplicity and clarity, only displaying the most necessary elements while still maintaining a very robust application.
Being a web designer first and developer second, my priority is beautiful CSS which brings our markup to life. In my opinion, WebKit is ahead of the curve in terms of CSS3 support, which plays a HUGE role in making a beautiful website just that much better. Examples of this would be text-shadow, box-shadow, transitions, transformations and keyframe animations, which are partially supported in some browsers and totally ignored in others. Some of these properties make elements look more realistic, some add flare to the User Experience, but one thing’s for sure; they help make the web a more interactive and beautiful place for users and WebKit’s got just about all of them.
HTML5 is one of those technologies that is changing so much, you can hardly keep track. I am no HTML5 expert, but I can say that Chrome consistently ranks up near or at the top in terms of support for HTML5 elements and properties. If Chrome doesn’t support something, it’s a good bet that they very soon will. If you’re interested in testing your browser for HTML5 support, check out HTML5test.com or FindMeByIP.
The Web is all about choice
I should point out that this article only presents my opinion, and I take no offense if you don’t agree. In fact, the web is all about choice, so I commend you for using the browser you have the most faith in! I’d love to hear your stories and opinions, so please feel free to comment away!