Saturday, March 21, 2020

Picking a Web Browser That is Right For You

There are four main types of browser technologies these days. The biggest one is the Microsoft Internet Explorer family of browsers. Internet Explorer comes standard with windows (unless you are in the European Union). Internet explorer is the most exploited browser by hackers, partially because it has the most market share, and partly because of its use of ActiveX objects. If a user is careful and practices good browsing habits, Internet Explorer is as safe as the rest. I recommend all windows users at least have this installed because there are plenty of websites out there that require you to use it. Microsoft is notorious for having their websites only work in Internet Explorer.

The next most popular browser out there is Mozilla Firefox. This is the successor to the Netscape heritage and is overseen by the Mozilla foundation. Firefox was the first browser to incorporate a system for third party vendors to develop extensions and add-ons for it. There are almost two million add-ons for Firefox already. There are many useful extensions ranging from extra browser security to developer tools. This is the browser I suggest for both Windows and Mac users. I personally use it as my main browser due to all the developer tools offered from third parties like Google.

The third largest group is the Webkit browsers. Webkit is a layout and application framework. The three browsers in this group we are going to talk about are Apple's Safari, Google Chrome, and Comodo Dragon. Safari is the default web browser that comes with Mac OS. Over the years Apple has put a lot of effort into Safari, making it a solid browser with a slick responsive interface. It has also been released for Windows users to download for free. The last two are based on the Chromium engine. Chromium is an open source engine developed by Google to use in Chrome and is well known for its V8 JavaScript engine which is blazing fast. Since its release, Chrome has had 5 major version updates and now incorporates third party extensions much like Firefox. Dragon is developed by Comodo, a name brand in the security sector. It has similar features to Chrome but adds an extra layer of security for SSL connections. to be honest, the name of it makes it worth using just by itself. I encourage Windows users to pick up one of these if they want a third browser and I recommend that Mac users stick with Safari as their main browser.

Last but not least on our Web browser tour is the less popular, but loved by many, Opera. Opera is developed in Norway by Opera software. This browser is full of interesting features that are quite often copied by the bigger names. Opera's biggest claim to fame is that it is used as the base for many mobile and console web browsers. Most mobile phone platforms offer support for it, and the Nintendo Wii's web browser is based off of it. The latest versions touts a vastly increased performance in page rendering and a JavaScript engine that rivals the one in Chromium. Despite being such an innovative browser, I have found that it has issues with some websites, especially ones displaying flash content. Some swear by this browser however, and other than the flash websites my experience has been positive toward it. Personally, I only recommend this for web developers who wish to make sure their web pages work well on it.

In summary, I recommend Windows users to use a combination of IE and Firefox and I recommend Mac users to use a combination of Safari and Firefox. If you are a web developer I recommend installing IE, Firefox, Chrome, Safari, and Opera for testing your websites' compatibility across them all. I have also noticed on Windows that IE is less forgiving than the rest when it comes to malformed HTML and CSS. I often use it for debugging my webpages. Firefox should be your primary browser for web development due to the developer tools one can get for it.

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