There has been a lot of chatting today about the release of Firefox 3. I was absolutely not looking forward to that, the same way that I'm not looking forward to Internet Explorer 8.
The reason is simple: One more browser platform for me to have to test Sampa with.
We support IE 6, IE 7 and FF 2. Now with FF 3, as soon as it reaches a couple percentage points of penetration (which should happen in a month or so) we will need to support it as well, but we won't be able to drop FF 2 support either because a large percentage of our customers are still using it.
Now, look forward a few months and Sampa will have to be compatible with IE 6, IE 7, IE 8, FF 2 and FF 3. Maybe we'll add Safari to the mix.
The problem rises from the fact that each new version fixes previous bugs that we had to work around to make sure Sampa worked well on those browsers. Now, these workarounds might break on the new version of the browser. What's a developer to do?
In fact, there is absolutely no actionable item that I (or any other engineer) can take to fix this mess. That's one of the reasons Web 1.0 was full of crappy web solutions, because there were too many incompatible browsers (aka, platforms) and the cost of supporting most of them were just too high.
I don't wish Mozilla would take back FF3, but I wish they've focused this version in improving perf, stability and fixing tons of known bugs, instead of adding features. Then, when they move to add new features, they are working on top of a stable platform.
My conclusion is that Flash and Silverlight will win the "Web war" this time around, simply because they are more compatible across OSes, across browsers and across their own versions.