Curved corners, and why you should be able to see them

Tuesday, July 14th, 2009 by Kevin Teljeur

So I said I’d write something last night, and I didn’t. Instead, I decided I’d stick some curved corners onto the site here and there since that is a new trick which I got into at work very recently and which I was keen to give a spin. I think it fits the design, actually. Anyway, the thing about stuff like this, the curved corners, is that on the web this is a ‘next generation’ feature, and so modern browsers can see it and it all looks good. Modern browsers.

However, there is a common browser out there, widely in use, which isn’t modern, and which isn’t good. It is Microsoft’s Internet Explorer (Version 6, I’m looking at you. Step forward, boy!), which is still installed and actively in use on many systems (which are almost entirely Windows XP, with a few old Windows NT and Windows 2000 systems thrown in. It doesn’t run on anything that isn’t Windows). Once upon a time, many years ago, it was a reasonable browser but it long outstayed it’s welcome and now it is one of the things holding the Internet back. If you got a pop-up on the screen telling you to get a newer browser, then you have Internet Explorer and you should get a better browser.

If you are using Internet Explorer 6 or 7, please, do yourself a huge favour, do the Internet a favour, and replace your browser of choice. Here are some contenders:

Firefox: It’s been the gold-standard of browsers for a few years now, the benchmark against which browser progress is measured. It used to be Internet Explorer, but the browser ‘market’ is now measured in how Firefox’s share is progressing relative to Internet Explorer’s loss. It has been improving steadily over the last few years, always adding useful new features, it’s never the fastest but it does have a fantastic ‘add-on’ system to allow customisation of the browser (which has made it a powerful web development tool all by itself, helping enormously in displacing Internet Explorer). It’s a solid browser. Try this first, and judge other browsers relative to this.

Somewhat ironically, it’s based on the codebase that came from Netscape Navigator, the browser that was crushed many years ago by Microsoft in it’s attempts to control the Internet. Not crushed enough, apparently.

Safari: Apple’s browser, which not so long ago went cross-platform, based on an open-source browser platform. It was created to fulfil the need on the Mac for a good, fast browser, and it delivers in spades, making the PC version good too. The basic strategy for this browser is to get as much raw performance as possible, and it generally delivers.

Chrome: Google’s recent surprise entry to the market. A cut-down, spartan, high-performance browser. It’s an acquired taste, but definitely very, very fast, and stable. It shares underlying technology with Apple’s Safari, and a similar dedication to raw speed.

Opera: Meh. Apparently a good browser, but to be honest it has become very much a niche browser. It’s a standards-pusher, a browser at the forefront of where web standards are created, but in a tiny niche of usage. Still, some people swear by it, so it must have something going for it.

Oh, and last but not quite least:
Internet Explorer 8
: The byline of this browser is probably ‘not as rubbish as the old versions’. I can’t install it myself because I have to keep installations of the old Internet Explorer versions for web development, although I’ll make the effort soon and try it out. By all accounts it has successfully caught up to the other browsers. Two years ago. So it still hasn’t gotten any of the newer features that the other browsers have, but it’s not as crap with dealing with the older features. I think I’ve just damned it with faint praise right there.

For the more technical among you that might, possibly, be reading this, I say this: yes, I’m playing fast and loose here, this isn’t aimed at the technically-minded reader. I know better, since I work with this stuff on a daily basis, for a living. But I hope it helps at least one Internet Explorer 6 or 7 user to do the right thing.

(Edited for punctuation)

4 Responses to “Curved corners, and why you should be able to see them”

  1. Jonesy Says:

    Using Chrome.

    I like the way there’s only one box – whether you’re entering addresses, queries or a site.

    In fact, the distinction between those things has become blurred in my mind: I just tell it what I want and it delivers quickly.

    The result fills the screen – the browser seems bigger because there’s no clutter.

    I find it a lot like Gmail, Google Docs, Google Calendar, Google Maps – it just works. Anything that should happen, does. I have never once improvised a gesture and been refused. It’s intuitive.

    I have severe brand loyalty to Google! To me, they’re what Apple used to be. Sometimes wish they would write an Operating System. But maybe that’s not neccessary if everything I do is online anyway…..

  2. Kevin Teljeur Says:

    It’s clutter-free alright, and it has some things going for it but for me, it has in common with Safari that it’s maybe too minimalist. Like high-performance sports cars; very, very fast, but not really great for getting about town or picking up the shopping.

    I tend to make use of the sort of extra features that less minimal browsers offer, and that’s why I eventually came back to Firefox after having used both Camino and Safari (I’m on a Mac) for extended periods.

  3. barry Says:

    kev, kev, where to start.

    ‘a new trick’ jaysus. surely you jest. that little trick is around since the dark ages. even aol search was using it to give fancy coners to ffx/safari 2 years ago.

    also, apart from every second word press theme on the web having 2/3 corners rounded to look ‘cool’, the header looks decidedly weird on firefox, with pink showing through the curve…

    even the mighty firefox couldn’t do a good job on making that head of yours look good.

    at least have the decency to have photoshop do a nice job of them…

    and finally…

    a post about updating your site? that’s got to be the most frequent type of post you actually have!

    “sorry it’s been so long, look mom, new (insert tiny alteration)”.


  4. Kevin Teljeur Says:

    *sigh* I don’t have a good come back to the towering rage that is you, Baz – the Intarwebs has missed you. The point was that I feel comfortable about using this feature and leaving IE out, rather than either a) not using it (previous plan) or b) using some tortuous workaround to get it to work in IE. Now it’s not too bad to just tell people with IE to get with the program.

    I didn’t have any javascript handy to make you happy, but I’m writing one in JQuery, which i hope to test soon.