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Apple, It's Not A Standard If It Only Works In Your Browser, And On The Mac

Apple today posted an interesting new HTML 5 and Web Standards section to its web site, a counterpoint of sorts to Microsoft's Internet Explorer 9 Test Drive site (and yet another assault on Adobe Flash). There's just one problem: Unlike the Microsoft effort, Apple's site only works properly in its own Safari web browser, which undercuts the point the company is try to make. Safari, after all, is used by less than 5 percent of web browser users worldwide.

There's another issue here, of course. This site also proves my contention that WebKit is a lie. That is, Apple previously explained that WebKit-based browsers were a de facto standard because this rendering engine is used by both Safari and Google Chrome, and that these browsers represented most of all mobile web traffic. My point is that there is no such thing as a single WebKit because each browser implements different WebKit versions and render web pages differently.

If you access the individual demos from Apple's Safari Dev Center with Chrome, instead of via the main site, you can in fact view them. And when you do, you discover that the experience is a subtly different in each browser. In Windows.

As noted above, this is all very subtle. And none of the example here would impact the functionality of a site. Things are just rendered differently.

Look beyond Windows, however, and the experience is even more different. On the video demo for example, Mac users on Safari get a Mask control while Windows users don't, in any browser. And some demos don't work at all on Safari for Windows. When Microsoft talks about "same markup," this is what they mean. The same HTML code should render identically in each browser. It's not enough to "support" various HTML 5 features. It should look and work the same, everywhere.

The thing that's odd about all this is that I do believe that HTML 5 is the future of the web, and that proprietary technologies like Flash will become less and less necessary as we move forward. But these Apple demos simply prove that that future is still a ways off, and certainly isn't here today.

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