For some reason, the vast majority of developers has accepted the browser as the operation system for their applications. While there are some good reasons for this, I never really bought into it. HTML5 has eliminated most of the pain point of web applications, but I still insist that most customers don’t really want to use a web application. We’ve taught them to accept to open the browser to do their daily work, but there are still quite a few disadvantages to this approach. The “old stagers” among you know how many obstacles we had to overcome before the browser became a really useful operation system for writing applications. Just for the fun of it, let’s start this article summarizing some of them:
- How to deal with the “back” and “forward” buttons in a web application?
- How to print a document from a web application? Most developers export documents to be printed as PDF files, but wouldn’t it be nice to be able to print documents without this detour?
- How to import an Excel file into your application?
- More generally speaking, web applications run in a sandbox preventing access to low-level resources such as your computer’s file system.
Roughly three months passed since my last compilation of browser market shares. To my surprise Google Chrome managed to become the leading browser in the USA. If the trend is going to continue like this, the map will soon pretty boring. The Americas already shine in uniform green color. According to StatCounter Internet Explorer’s market share dropped to a meager 25% by the end of June. Firefox seems to have a fidel community – roughly 20% – while Chrome jumped above the 40% line.
On the other hand I saw my companies statistics a couple of days ago. They differ significantly from StatCounter’s figures. Many companies do not address the general public, but smaller user groups. Big companies are far more conservative than smaller companies or individuals. Internet Explorer still dominates the enterprise market, for instance.
During the last years the annual JAX conference served as a good gauge for the trends and hypes of the Java world. This year’s JAX conference felt almost boring by this measure. As far as I can see, most of the conference was about evolution. If there was any revolution I missed it. Maybe it was hiding in the dark, but the conference generally felt a lot like steady but constant progress. Actually, consolidation’s not a bad thing – apart from that it’s boring to write a blog article about it :).
Being a web developer, I investigate browser market shares every couple of years to learn about the target platforms I have to optimize my web applications for.
The most exhaustive resource on the topic I found is Wikipedia’s article. It combines the data of five internet statistics providers. Frequently there are major differences between two providers’ data, so it’s a good idea to read them all. There’s a wide range of things biasing the statistics. I any case, the only reliable statistics you can get is collected by your product. But that’s after shipment.
One of the providers – http://gs.statcounter.com – caught my eye because of the nice and interesting statistics they provide. To my surprise there are major regional differences of browser usage:
Follow the link below to see the interactive version of the map, and my attempts to explain at least some of the differences.
There are astonishing news: Google is about to drop WebKit as the rendering engine of its browser Chrome. Even more astonishing is Opera’s announcement to adopt Google’s new rendering engine Blink instead of WebKit (see Hello Blink). This comes as a surprise as Opera announced to adopt WebKit just a couple of weeks ago.