Monday, May 30, 2011

HTML 5 Feature Support

I recently prepared a chapter about HTML 5 for our QFrame bootcamp. The main thought for this chapter was: is it already possible to implement HTML 5 sites without all users having to upgrade to the newest browser versions. Most talks and sites about HTML 5 only tell you how great it is, using HTML 5, and how many cool new features you can now use. But still, I, as a developer, need to make sure that everyone who visits the sites I create, can view them more or less the same way. In this post I will show you my findings on the new HTML 5 features support. A next post will handle how you can make your sites HTML 5 compatible, even for older browsers.

So, I tried to get an idea of how far all browsers are already implementing the new HTML 5 spec. The html5test site gives you a good idea of which features a browser supports. You open this site in a browser of your choice and you get an overall score (the maximum score is 400) and an overview of which features are supported and which features are not. If you use the latest version of chrome for instance, you get a total score of 293, which is pretty good, almost 75 percent of the spec is supported.
The features that are not supported in chrome are:

  • MPEG-4 support, when using the new video tag
  • some new form field types 
  • microdata
  • the FileWriter API (FileReader is supported)
  • ...
All in all this is a short list and thus the high score for Google Chrome.

I also ran this test for Firefox. At the time I took the test I was still using version 3.6.3, which is a pretty old one. I have to admit I am pretty content with chrome's speed of showing web pages and haven't returned to Firefox since I installed the Google browser. Still, version 3.6.3 of Firefox still got a score of 155, which is less than half, but still pretty good for a pretty old version.
Since this was a lower score, I also tested for the latest version of Firefox (4.0.1) and off course got a much better score of 240, which is closer to the chrome score.
But now, the big question was, what about IE 9? Ever since Microsoft released their newest version of IE they have also been promoting their HTML support. Keeping this in mind, I was expecting a really high score here. But, alas, the actual result was quite disappointing. IE9 scores an overwhelming (mind the pun) 130 points. That is even less than my old Firefox version gets!
I also tested some more browser versions using the SuperPreview tool that is included in the Expression Suite. This tool allows you to test web sites in different browser versions. The tool uses the browser versions that it can find on your operating system and also offers some on-line browsers. This makes it possible, for Microsoft geeks like me, to, for instance, test sites in Safari. Version 4 scores 139 (more than IE9 again), version 5 scores 228.

I must say it is a pretty handy tool, but it comes with some restrictions. For instance, not all JavaScript always runs as it should. And the on-line chrome version for instance, gets a lower score for the html5test site. I'm thinking they don't have the latest chrome version installed at Microsoft. 
But still, I was able to get a score for IE6 up untill IE8. Not that it were high scores, 17 and 32 respectively. 

Which really makes you think whether you can already start using HTML 5 features today. I am pretty sure that for normal people (not geeks like you and me) not everyone has upgraded to IE9 yet. 
The last test I executed, was using the web browser of my new Windows Phone 7. Here I also got a score of 17. Pretty low, if you ask me. The good news is that with the new Mango update for Windows Phone 7, there will also be a IE9 browser. The bad news is, on the iPhone and Android devices you can already get a score of 132 and 182 respectively. 
I hope this gives you a nice view as how far browsers are in implementing the new HTML 5 spec. Still, The question remains 'can I start using HTML 5 features today'. I will already answer this for you: yes you can! Even if some browsers score low in a feature test for HTML 5. In a next post I will show you which parts of the spec you can start using and how you can implement fallbacks for older browsers.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Got me a Windows Phone 7 (and happy with it)

Since we, at QFrame, are developing for Windows Phone 7, it was only a matter of time until some colleagues and I got a couple of those devices ourselves. I went for the LG E900 Optimus 7 black. Ordered it at pdashop and just two days later my new phone got delivered. And of course, ever since, I have been playing with it.

What I like about the phone? First of all, the Windows Phone 7 OS gives quite a good integration between a lot of services I use on the Internet (Facebook, my different Exchange accounts, my Google mail, Windows Live, ...). My contacts and calendars get imported automatically, which is really, really handy, no time wasted giving them all in by hand or syncing them on regular intervals. The only configuration that took a bit longer was the exchange account we use at work, but that was mainly due to the fact that Cronos uses different settings on their servers than the defaults. Normally Windows Phone 7 devices are quite capable of connecting to your exchange server while just using your email address and password. They auto-detect your mail settings and configure the connection for you.

I did have some problems though with an account I misconfigured and which I can't get deleted (there just isn't a button for it). If anyone has an answer for that, feel free to fill me in!

Next thing I like is the fact I have all kinds of data with me now. Emails are synchronised once I get near a wifi connection (I don't have a data subscription on my SIM card, but I'm thinking of getting one). Oh, and talking about my SIM card, I lost a couple hours because my card didn't get recognised by the phone. Blame it on me being a woman, but I put the card in the wrong way. Yes, that was really stupid. I even retried putting the card in a couple of times, still doing it the wrong way. My boyfriend also pointed out afterwards that there's a picture next to the slot indicating the right way. Making it even more stupid of me.

Further, the camera is fine, it also has a panorama shot option which is pretty cool, but which you don't use that often. Another feature specific to the LG Optimus is the 'Play To' app. With this you can directly play your audio, video or picture files to any devices that are capable of this. I can now stream this content to our XBox 360 or to our DLNA device. Pretty easy way to get my music loud and clear out of the Bose surround system connected to it.

App-wise I really like the Kindle reader app. We already have an Amazon account and a couple of books on our Kindle. Now being able to read those books on my phone is quite handy. I even like the navigation on the phone through these books a bit better than on the Kindle itself. I also have some RSS readers and feeds on my phone for keeping up with the news, A Facebook and Wikipedia app, a runbuddy and (of course) a lightsaber app. I just couldn't resist that last one.

Game-wise I'm thinking of buying Ilomilo now that I've played the trial. And yes, I have been able to not be tempted in buying angrybirds (yet). I also got the Guitar Hero trial, but for some reason it won't start up.

There are also some things I don't really like about the phone. First of, I went for the LG, instead of Samsung, because of its 16 Gb memory which is bigger than the 8 Gb of Samsung. But still, I think 16 Gb is not that much, and there is no way in putting in an extra memory card. Do I need that much space? Yes, I do. I like it when I have most of my music with me, which is a lot. My 30 Gb iPod has been too small for me for quite some time now.

Another thing is battery lifetime. I do need to recharge every evening. probably because I'm playing with the thing all day long, but still, I come from a simple phone that lasted a whole week. Although I need to admit that that same phone occasionally just stopped working for a day or two for no reason at all.

The Zune software isn't ideal either. But still, anything is an improvement to iTunes, which I really hate. Fact is iTunes keeps on not finding my media files even though I pointed the program to the location of the files for like a billion times. Last thing it did was not copy over my Start to Run podcast. I just hope the Zune software will do a better job at this. What I don't like about the Zune software however is the fact it doesn't give a good overview of all my media files (I miss some categories). I also had to set up a second Windows Live account so I could get at the good stuff. The Belgian marketplace just isn't what it should be.

But overall I am very very happy with my new phone. It gives me some good response times and nice features which come in handy in everyday life. I'm not that into playing with stuff that much, but I can't seem to keep my hands of this phone.