Providing the same UI across browsers

If you change the default controls to match the look and feel of something your visitor has never seen before, you run the risk of creating confusion, distrust, or alienation. Even worse, if the controls are poorly made or conceived — and many are — you might make your site less usable. A cardinal sin.

The more I think about it, the real beneficiaries of a uniform UI across browsers aren’t the site visitors, but rather the designers who demand artistic control and the clients who insist the product looks the same everywhere, without understanding that it’s okay (even expected) to have some differences.

HTML5 Video, minus Ogg

Mozilla, the makers of Firefox, refuse to support the MP4/H.264 standard because it isn’t open-source and free from licensing constraints. Without Ogg, Firefox’s HTML5 video is rendered useless and requires a Flash-based fallback system. However, Firefox’s handling of the video element breaks the fallback mechanism. A scripted solution is required.

Here’s a simple script that will detect whether HTML 5 video is supported in the browser, and if it is, will check to see if this is Firefox. If yes, it deletes the specified video element but leaves the Flash fallback in its place.

Eolas is at it again

This week — a year and a half after settling with Microsoft — Eolas has gone on the attack again, filing suit against “Adobe, Amazon, Apple, Argosy Publishing (publisher of The Visible Body), Blockbuster, Citigroup, eBay, Frito-Lay, GoDaddy, J. C. Penney, JPMorgan Chase, ‘transactional’ adult entertainment provider New Frontier Media, Office Depot, Perot Systems, Playboy Enterprises, Rent-a-Center, Staples, Sun Microsystems, Texas Instruments, Yahoo, and YouTube.”

Gotchas in Internet Explorer 8

Internet Explorer 8 (IE8) is at Release Candidate 1, which means it will be released very shortly. IE8 is a brand-new browser and will represent a considerable shift from IE7/IE6; it will follow standards more closely and will offer much improved CSS 2.1 support. However, because of some of these changes, it is also widely understood that IE8 might ‘break’ websites that have relied on IE-specific hacks targeted at previous versions if Internet Explorer.