Simon Willison’s Weblog


Surfin’ Safari

11th January 2003

Dave Hyatt has renamed his weblog Surfin’ Safari and is extensively documenting the Safari team’s progress in fixing problems and making their browser even more standards compliant. He has also been responding to questions posed by the blogging community concerning the new browser. Of particular interest is this post explaining the thinking behind Safari’s controversial User Agent string (which identifies itself as “like Gecko”):

The reason it is there is that in order to work with real-world DHTML sites you have essentially two options: you can claim to be MSIE or you can claim to be Gecko. We found that any other choice that we tried led to a significant portion of DHTML malfunctioning. You would not believe (well, maybe you would) how much DHTML exists out there that works only with MSIE or Gecko, and that uses proprietary extensions of each to accomplish the DHTML effects. Had we released a browser with a UA string that did not superficially match either MSIE or Gecko, users would have downloaded Safari and experienced many malfunctioning Web sites.


We chose to be more like Gecko than like MSIE because we wanted to be lumped into the standards compliant category, because fundamentally we are committed to supporting DOM 1&2, CSS1&2, and enough proprietary MSIE extensions and Gecko extensions (innerHTML, createContextualFragment, offsetWidth/Height, etc.) that we could be placed in a similar category.

This is Surfin’ Safari by Simon Willison, posted on 11th January 2003.

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