Full Acid3 support in Opera and WebKit (Safari etc)

First out was Opera, and then WebKit (which Safari and some other web browsers are based on), to pass the Acid3 test.

I think Opera outed Acid3 support about half a day before the WebKit team announced achieving a score of 100/100. I think this is great news, and I love the chase between web browsers to become better at supporting what web developers need as well as greater part of the standards!

Where will this leave the general web browser market?

In comparison, Firefox 3 beta 4, which will probably be a final release soon, gets a score of 68 out of a 100. Beta 1 of IE 8 scores 18/100, where IE 7 scores 12/100 and IE 6 11/100 (quite an improvement between those three, right? πŸ™‚ )

Also, notice that Microsoft with IE 8 proudly presented passing Acid2 a couple of months ago, so Acid3 is probably far away from their minds.

First, I’m a bit surprised that Firefox is so far behind, second to last with only IE behind it. Secondly, imagine that it takes another year before IE 8 is officially released. This will render them, yet again, 1-2 years behind the rest of the web browser market.

My questions are:

  • Should Firefox wait with a release till it gets better Acid3 score, querySelectorAll support etc?
  • Will Microsoft ever come close to catching up? And if not, what should they do to actually release a web browser that is at the forefront of web browser development?

As Lars mentions, you can always discuss whether they actually pass the test in all aspects; no matter what, achieving 100/100 is at least a very good message sent out, according to me.


  • Bramus! says:

    As I've read, Firefox 3 will be out in June (citation needed :P), so not that soon after all.

    During the current FX3 codefreezes, no new features will be added so I'm guessing no further improvements referring to Acid3 will be made.

    That along with the fact that if Acid3 should become a priority for the FX3 release, a new extended testing process should be introduced (along with some other things) which will only push the release date back to September/October; Therefore making it not an option.

  • Olly says:

    I can completely understand why Firefox 3 won't pass. Their priorities lie elsewhere for now. Besides, implementing SMIL and @fontface aren't exactly trivial exercises!

    When they release FF3 they won't be far behind current shipping versions of Opera or Safari, and they'll be well ahead of IE. It looks like Opera won't pass in the upcoming 9.5 either — in both cases Acid3 came just as they were approaching a release.

    As for the IE team, they're making massive strides forward. The idea of IE passing Acid2 was beyond our wildest dreams a short while ago.

    IE8 probably won't be the super-awesome thing we're all hoping for, but hopefully the new engine will give them a solid foundation to build on. I wouldn't be at all surprised to find them catching and maybe even passing other browser vendors again in the next few years. Remember how good IE5 and 6 were compared to the competition at the time? Microsoft can be an absolute powerhouse when they're on form.

  • True, Bramus! The best option for Mozilla would be to release Firefox 3 "as-is" (not that any great stuff hasn't been added to it, Fx3 will rock.) and after that focus hard on Acid 3.

    Regarding Explorer, you are so right. Even when Microsoft tries to get ahead, they fall back to the last place again in a matter of months.

    I really like seing Acid 3 compliance becoming a goal for the major browser vendors, since the technologies it tests is the core of the web applications of the future.

  • Andreas says:

    I wish all of them would just switch to Webkit. What a dream that would be.

    Been working on some pretty JS/animation-heavy sites lately and Webkit just kicks arse.

    Imagine if they put all their focus on _one_ engine. Wouldn't that be the best thing in the end? No hacks, no cross-browser-issues, just code to the standards and don't even worry about checking different browsers because everything looks the same all the time in every browser.

  • stelt says:

    acid 3 puts a lot more attention to SVG, which i think is great as i maintain the SVG link resource

  • Pelle says:

    Hopefully Mozilla will decide to focus on a quick follow-up release after the release of Firefox 3, something like a Firefox 3.1 or 3.5, that will add better technology support in the back-end without "demanding" any new consumer features.

    We can't really wait for Firefox 4 for Acid 3 to pass and having support for things like the Selectors API.

    What Microsoft should do is to buy Opera or something. There are really no benefits that I can think of for them to develop a new browser engine themself and since they have decided to stick with the IE 7 engine for all old pages – why not use one of the three good browser engines that exists today for any future browsers? They wouldat least certainly regain the trust of the web developers if they did…

  • Will Microsoft ever come close to catching up? And if not, what should they do to actually release a web browser that is at the forefront of web browser development?

    With Microsoft attempting to buy Yahoo, and all the speculation regarding flight of developers into the open arms of competitors, I guess there would be similar speculations if Microsoft starts bidding on Opera as well.

    As long as they're (non-)competing in a market, where all the other players are moving forward in great strides, their slow development cycles will continue to hold them back, and will always keep them a few years behind.

    In my mind, the last time MS had the lead, was between the launch of 5.5 up until the launch of 6.0. By the time 6.0 was released, competitors were already far ahead of them, and haven't looked back since. Considering the age of the web, Microsofts browser has been lagging behind the others, for more than half it's existance.

    Considering the vast amount of money and effort that Microsoft has put into the Eolas case, I doubt they're just going to roll over, and buy Opera or license another rendering engine… as much as I wish they would, I find it very unlikely.

    But, back to the matter at hand.

    In my mind, the only real way Microsoft can get back into the game, is to set the IE team free. Break them away from the big monolith and make them an entirely separate entity that report to no-one, and let them choose their own tools, development methods, team members, bug-tracking features, etc. There's nothing wrong with owning a few succesful techonology companies πŸ™‚

    The funding of that company could then come from Microsoft, as well as others, licensing their products… and I suspect that it would also please the anti-trust gods … at least for awhile.

    Hell, it might even mean that they could release quality browsers for more than one platform πŸ˜‰

    Should Firefox wait with a release till it gets better Acid3 score, querySelectorAll support etc?

    No, I think there are so many good things in Firefox 3, that it's worthy of being released. It'll put a fair amount of pressure on the competition to keep improving their browsers, and will benefit a lot of developers to have new and updated user-agents to fool around with.

    Yes, Acid3 compliance with all it's benefits would be useful, but let's face it … we're living without them today, we can wait a few months.

  • Grant Palin says:

    The recent progress of Opera and Safari is exciting – I too am surprised that Firefox is not a little further ahead on the ACID3 work, but that team has their priorities. I agree with the sentiment that they should push out Firefox 3 when it is ready, and work on catching up after that.

    As for IE8, the team is making good strides forward. They will likely still be behind the other browsers at the time of release, but still, it's progress. Maybe in a few years, IE6 will have a smaller user base and IE8 could be the baseline. Oh how good that would be!

  • Steven Clark says:

    Robert, conversation provoceteur (however that's spelt at this time of the morning).

    Its good to see two browsers pass Acid3 so quickly so that's heartening. Competition can be a good thing. But I wouldn't sell Firefox short just yet. That being said I've drifted more towards Opera lately but doing what we do its a case of using them all for something every day.

    I don't think we should hold our breath for microsoft in the short term (maybe the longer term if Steve Ballmer had a vision and the organisation evangelised from the top down?) ha ha.

    I'm being optimistic this year though, I sense that even MS are getting it within the organisation so you never know your luck. IE8 might just surprise us.

    But today, right now, you're exactly right. The Acid3 marks are exactly where they are. Kudos to Opera and Webkit on this one.

  • Henrik Nystrom says:

    If you haven't read it before this (http://shaver.off.net/diary/2008/03/27/the-missed-opportunity-of-acid-3/) provides some interesting thoughts on Acid3 from one of the Mozilla guys.

    And with that I would say that Mozilla should definitely not hold up on FF3 for the Acid3 test. I think that Mozilla has shown enough to prove that they are committed to supporting and developing the standards.

    And until MS catches up (which we all hope will happen asap) there really no immediate rush besides the bragging rights.

  • Devon Young says:

    1. Firefox should fix their nightlies to be 100/100 before releasing 3.0, even if the fixes don't make it into the 3.0 version. It'll be good marketing and make the public feel like Firefox is only a step behind and not like they missed the bus entirely. I'm personally very disappointed my favorite browser hasn't shown much interest in rising to the top quickly here. Obviously, it can be done.

    2. I don't know what IE's problem is. They have massive amounts of money at Microsoft, yet they can't come close to keeping up with the small money businesses or non-profit org mozilla. Huh? Bad management there.

  • David Naylor says:


    The problem is that the Acid3 test is a pretty arbitrary set of features from various different standards.

    Personally I think the browser makers should fix one standard at a time and pass the Acid3 test when they support all the tested standards.

  • Robert Nyman says:

    Thanks, great and very thought-worthy input!

    I thought I'd give my replies to the questions I asked:

    1. I think they should release Firefox 3 soon, but then, as suggested above, fix as much Acid3 things as possible in the nightlies or in a follow-up release to Firefox 3. Waiting to Firefox 4 is, to me, not an option.

    However, I do really think they should implement <code>querySelectorAll</code> as soon as they can, since it shouldn't be too hard and at the same time extremely useful.

    2. Microsoft has lots of economical as well as developer resources. Since the standard rendering in IE 8 will be based on a new layout engine, they really have no excuse for not delivering the best web browser in the market.

    Why they don't is about politics and management, not whether they're able to or not. I'd love to see them using another rendering engine, like Gecko, or buy a web browser, like Opera. But that's never gonna happen.

  • Olly says:

    <blockquote cite="http://www.robertnyman.com/2008/03/31/full-acid3-support-in-opera-and-webkit-safari-etc/#comment-240784">Waiting to Firefox 4 is, to me, not an option.It might just have to be. Between FF3 and 4, Gecko will be moving on to version 2, which brings some massive architectural changes with it.

    I won't pretend to fully understand what they are, but adding major new features (@fontface, SMIL, etc) when the codebase beneath them is about to change wildly doesn't seem like the best move to me.

    On your other point, I'm glad MS won't be buying in another engine, and that all the browser vendors aren't concentrating on one engine. Look what happened last time there was only one engine dominating the entire market! Competition is a good thing.

  • Robert Nyman says:


    Well, given the upcoming changes with Gecko, I agree with you. For now. πŸ™‚

    While I generally agree with the sentiment, last time with just one web browser dominated everything, it was closed-source. For it to work, it has to be open-source.

  • Lars Gunther says:

    Hi Robert. Neither Presto nor Webkit pass the test, nor to the developers claim to do so. In fact Opera says "there are remaining issues" and Apple also has a clear disclaimer: "Note: this does not indicate a full pass of Acid3."

    Look at my comments on 456bereastreet for more about this or read the article on Wikipedia. Roger updated his blog post, may I ask you to do the same?

  • Robert Nyman says:


    Just as Roger states, it's a mix of how it's communicated together with what actually meets the term of passing the test. I'd say that a 100/100 constitutes passing, with the note of smooth animations etc to pass it in a good manner.

    Post is updated with a mention to your comment.

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