Category Archives: Browsers

Polyfill Fixin’

When my coworker @gigabo bothers to talk, gold nuggets of dev best practices start dropping left and right. I try write them down quickly to look up later (I always try to RTFM so as to keep the well flowing). I realized I might as well log the fruit of my efforts here…

Today’s nugget:
In reference to the bug that causes default text served to an input to populate again if a user types too fast.

"Oh great, when we fix it, it will be reused by all of our apps – it’s a polyfill fix!"

I thought a polyfill was when you apply color to polygon. Is my front-end background obvious now?

Bo heard it from Paul Irish, the more commonly known gold-nugget dropping web dev.

No need to recreate the wheel, just read this: What is a polyfill?.

Killer Keyboard Skillz

I remember when I first met my boyfriend Tim, he impressed me by alt-tabbing and exporting paths from Photoshop to Illustrator. I was mesmerized by his Illustrator work flow: no visible tool bars, full screen mode. He was a keyboard master. Then I saw his desktop and realized he was an application-savant. Still…the impression was made during that critical get-to-know you phase.

Get L337 skills that impress the geekiest of your friends by becoming a mouse-free keyboard Jedi. Not only is it cool, it’s a major productivity booster.

Here’s some links to get you started.

Hack Attack: Become a Gmail Master

Now, don’t go off and try to learn everything at once! Unless you have an amazingly spongy memory it will be a waste of time. I usually learn a couple at a time by writing them on a post it and sticking it to my monitor. Once I have them down, I find new ones. The key is to actually use the shortcuts…force yourself, it’s harder than you think to start breaking the mouse addiction. It will feel awkward. But once you have, you’ll feel liberated.PDF of Firefox browser's keyboard shortcuts

I’ve got the basics of most my apps down, so now I have a cheat sheet for Firefox Shortcuts pasted to my monitor. Here’s a pdf of it, it’s a tri-fold that will eventually have a section for Gmail shortcuts and one for my macros and custom shortcuts in my text editor and various IDEs.

And once you’ve learned all the keyboard shortcuts you need, it may be time to take it to the next level and use an application like Hotkeys (freeware) that extends windows keys shortcuts.

IE7 is Officially Out, Time to Switch to Firefox?

Internet Explorer 7 and Firefox 1.5 Face Off
There’s been much buzz about the recent release of Internet Explorer 7 – and it’s true, the first new version of Microsoft’s browser to come out in half a dozen years is a vast improvement. Most important to your average user, tabbed browsing and rss feed support are finally here for the masses. By all means, upgrade, but while you’re at it, consider downloading a browser that’s been offering tabbed browsing and a dizzying array of optional plugins for years, Firefox.  My favorite .NET tech blog, Coding Horror, points out that while IE has caught up to Firefox (for now) in terms of core features, Firefox has extensibility and community support that IE will likely never match.

One Way to Solve IE’s ActiveX Woes

I know you’re expecting me to say switch to Firefox. Too late, I already did. No, this post is just an observation of PCWorld‘s method for solving the problem:

PCWorld solves IE activex problem

(highlighting mine)

I am actually a fan of this approach – it does two things nicely:

  1. Solves the problem without adding a lot of bulky and inevitably out-dated browser sniffing code and/or additional javascript dependence.
  2. Lets user’s know why they’re experiencing a problem.

Most developers I know are scrambling to make the new IE ActiveX restrictions invisible to users – they want their content to work as always. It’s understandable and possibly mandated by the upper echelons, however I think a more direct approach is worth considering. After all, the situation was created by fresh litigation and is likely to change with appeals and technology…soon…rendering your current workaround pointless. You’ll either have to do yet another workaround soon, or, if ActiveX controls are automatically re-enabled in the future, you’ll have all this extra muck in your code and will probably not go back and fix it (since it won’t technically be broken).

The second point is incredibly important, and in my experience, often overlooked. Many people with Windows Updates magically “maintaining” their computers behind the scenes have no idea why a lot of sites are suddenly behaving weird. They are wondering…they many assume many things but they’re sure to appreciate a clue – especially when it’s accompanied by a simple action that will forward their cause: “click here”.

The current browser climate reminds me of all the painful methods we used to use to handle IE 4 for Mac. In the end, for personal sites at least, I just stopped trying. It was such a bad browser that the collective time and energy of web developers everywhere were being, in my opinion, totally wasted to try to accommodate a sub par product. Why break your site to fix their browser when so many other better browsers are freely available? The less web developers bend to the restrictions forced on us by horrible browsing technology and noncompliance to web standards, the sooner average users will switch to something better. Then we can build and they can browse much more happily – everyone wins.

Related: Why Do I Have to Hit Enter to See Flash?

Internet Explorer 7 Beta Now Public

Astute and dedicated bloggers were all over this yesterday, but it bears repeating – IE 7 beta is now available for public consumption. But wait! Before you look at IE7 and audibly declare “Cool! Tabbed browsing!!!”, save yourself from looking like a technological has been: most of its cool new features have been available for years in other browsers like Firefox and Safari. If you want to truly be on the bleeding edge, get a browser that keeps you there. If you want to truly be on the bleeding edge, get a browser that keeps you there.

New York Times just posted an excellent review/editorial of IE 7 (beta):

ABOUT 85 percent of the Internet population uses the Microsoft Internet Explorer browser to surf the Web, even though it’s relatively ancient, crusty with neglect and about as secure as a screen door. [...] Those consumers aren’t actually choosing Internet Explorer; [...] [t]hey just use what came on their Windows computers. Thanks to this built-in following, Microsoft hasn’t felt much need to keep Internet Explorer current. Version 6 has been creaking along for five years — an eternity in Internet time.

And, as NYT writer David Pogue goes on to say, you can download the brand new version of IE, right now if you want.

Why do I have to hit enter to see Flash?

First thing today my IT Director says:

“Why do I have to hit the space bar to use [our web app] now?”
[screenshots below are examples of some random sites - not mine]

Press spacebar or enter to activate and use this control

She was seeing a ‘Click to activate and use this control’ or ‘Press SPACEBAR or ENTER to activate and use this control’ whenever she encountered a flash component. Even after hitting the spacebar she still had to click on the flash object to get it work.

click to activate and use this control
What had I done to our websites, she wondered? At first I assumed she had changed a security setting in her browser. But then I saw the message on my browser. Ack! Little did I know…it’s not a security change, it’s a new compulsory behavior autoupdated by Microsoft as a result of their losing a lawsuit.

I use Firefox and frequent web standards type tech blogs as much as possible, which is probably why I hadn’t heard of the Microsoft v. Eolas (University of California) lawsuit. Due to the patent litigation, an Internet Explorer update was released on April 11th that is autoinstalled via Windows Update which requires users to “activate” embedded objects and plug-ins before they can interact with them.

Of course, users running the Firefox, Safari or Opera web browsers will not be affected by this update. I would recommend taking this opportunity to make the switch to Firefox, it’s better over here. However, if your workplace is like mine and has web applications that rely on proprietary protocals and legacy vbscript, you may be suck with Internet Explorer. For you, Adobe has posted a flash demo showing users how to activate embedded objects on site’s that display this new message.

For developers out there who use any ActiveX controls such as Apple’s QuickTime, RealNetworks’ RealPlayer, or Adobe’s Flash, some work-arounds are emerging. You will have to change the way these objects are embedded.


Update (2006.05.10) Workarounds: