OK, so you want a web anyone can use, whether they’ve picked Windows, Macintosh, Linux, or whatever came on their cell phone or PDA. What can you do? Here are some ideas:

Web Users

Try an alternative browser. Use it exclusively for several days. Get used to what it can do, and how it differs from Internet Explorer or the browser you’ve been using.

Better yet, try two. If you already use Firefox, try Opera. If you already use Opera, try Firefox or Chrome. You can always switch back if you like the other one better. The goal is to see what’s out there.

If you find a web browser you like, tell your friends and family. Get them to try it out, or give them a demo.

If you really like the browser, and would like to spread awareness, consider joining a promotional group like Firefox Affiliates or Choose Opera.

Bloggers and Content Providers

Write about your favorite web browser. Encourage your visitors to try it out. Post links or buttons pointing to the download site.

If you agree with the Alternative Browser Alliance‘s goals, feel free to link to us.

Web Developers

Base your design on web standards whenever possible. Take a look at sites like the CSS Zen Garden and A List Apart for ideas. The Mozilla Developer Center and Opera Developer Community are also good resources.

Validate your code. Learn which rules are safe to break. Where you have to use proprietary features, use graceful degradation so that other browsers at least get a usable experience. Some tools for validation include:

Try not to make assumptions based on browser detection, which is often wrong by the time the next version of a program rolls around. Where you have to check, detect capabilities, not browsers.

Start a collection of web browsers. When designing a site, check the layout with as many browsers as you can early in the process. Check critical parts of the site before you go live. Sites like Browsershots or BrowserStack can help you with browsers and platforms you don’t actually have.

Do your development on Chrome or Firefox. Both have extensive tools to help you test and debug your websites.


These are just suggestions. You can do as much or as little as you want, as much or as little as you can!

This article originally appeared on the Alternative Browser Alliance in 2005. This is the latest version before I retooled the site a decade later.

The big news in web browsers this week is the formation of the Mozilla Corporation, a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Mozilla Foundation. So far it looks mainly like an accounting change so that they can work more easily with businesses that aren’t quite sure how to deal with non-profit partner. Firefox, Thunderbird, etc. will of course remain free and open-source. I’m optimistic about the change—being a for-profit company doesn’t seem to have hurt Opera much.

Speaking of Opera, they’re close to passing Acid2 in-house. They seem likely to be the next browser to pass (after Safari, iCab, and Konqueror). The next question is: Who will be the first to release a final version that passes the test? Safari and Konqueror still only pass on the development branches, and iCab’s still in beta.

The WaSP Buzz writes that once the Opera web browser passes the Acid2 test on the desktop, the mobile version will pass it too.

OK, that makes sense. AFAIK they have one rendering engine that they use across platforms. If the Windows, Linux and Mac versions display sites identically (aside from fonts and form controls), there’s no reason to assume that the version for cell phones and PDAs will be any different. What’s interesting here is the link to a forum thread on Opera’s Acid2 progress.

On Sunday, a development version of Konqueror passed the Acid2 test. In the comments, someone posted a screenshot of iCab also passing the Acid2 test.

I did a double-take. iCab? Das Internet-Taxi für den Mac? The browser with the nice “Make iCab smile” campaign to encourage non-broken HTML on websites but CSS capabilities that have rivaled Netscape 4 as little better than a bad joke? That has been in perpetual beta for years with no sign of shipping a final release?

So I did the only thing I could do. I downloaded the new beta and tried it. Not only did it nearly pass Acid2 (there was a narrow white line across the middle of the face) but it actually handled all the layouts on my own site… something which it had always failed at spectacularly before.

The WaSP Buzz posted a congratulatory note to both this morning. Strangely, iCab is the first browser available to the general public that passes Acid2. The up-to-date Safari is still sitting inside Apple’s development labs, and while you can download the source for the updated Konqueror, you’ll have to wait for KDE 3.4.2—or possibly 3.5—to be able to use it yourself without running a bleeding-edge desktop. Update: Apple has just launched CVS access to WebCore, putting Safari in the same situation as Konqueror: you can download and compile the latest source code if you want, but if you just want to grab an installer, you’re gonna have to wait.