Acid 3: The Litmus Test your browser will fail

IE - Standards Fail - the ACID3 test resultsYesterday The Web Standards Group announced the release of the Acid 3 test, and it’s sure to generate a bit of ire among the web community; mainly because all of the known browser will fail.

My results were pretty abysmal in fact. Firefox received a 50/100, as did Flock. Opera received a 46/100, and IE was demolished, finally working its way to 12/100 – after installing an active X control and 1 crash. Just two months after the IE group announced that IE 8 passed the Acid 2 test, version 3 sends a sinking slider down range at developers. I wonder how much these really help developers as they work to create a more compliant, standards oriented rendering of what the web authors intend to show.

As a web designer, it’s hard enough for me to work through designs that are a balance of excellent design, effective communication platforms, and which can be effectively ported from paper to screen in a manner that is fitting to the original concept. So, not being part of a web browser development team, I wonder if this test is welcomed or if there are hordes of programmers out there cursing aloud. Maybe it’s a little of both.

Compared to the Acid 2 test, Acid 3 is a quantum leap forward, testing 19 specifications that your favorite browser should support. This time they mean business, and it’s not just about visual representation any more. The level of work that has gone into this seems to pretty immense. I have done my fair share of coding, but this is pretty cool. I’m not sure how they went about coding all of this, but they have done a bang up job. Here is the list of specifications:

  • DOM2 Core
  • DOM2 Events
  • DOM2 HTML
  • DOM2 Range
  • DOM2 Style (getComputedStyle, …)
  • DOM2 Traversal (NodeIterator, TreeWalker)
  • DOM2 Views (defaultView)
  • ECMAScript
  • HTML4 (<object>, <iframe>, …)
  • HTTP (Content-Type, 404, …)
  • Media Queries
  • Selectors (:lang, :nth-child(), combinators, dynamic changes, …)
  • XHTML 1.0
  • CSS2 (@font-face)
  • CSS2.1 (’inline-block’, ‘pre-wrap’, parsing…)
  • CSS3 Color (rgba(), hsla(), …)
  • CSS3 UI (’cursor’)
  • data: URIs
  • SVG (SVG Animation, SVG Fonts, …)

There are a couple of things that are well overdue, and the biggest one for me is the ECMAScript testing. Scripting interpretation, while dramatically better than in years past, is just as inconsistent in its rendering as CSS – and it makes it far more troublesome to figure out scripting issues than it does to figure browser specific hacks for your layout.

One thing that would be really interesting to add to this is a reporting component to record and then display the browser stats of all of the visitors who have taken the test with their various browsers, Operating Systems and settings. Since you are supposed to be running this with the default settings, it could be very telling if the there was a built in function that would/could check your browser settings or installed plug-ins to see if there were incompatibilities with specific plug-ins. Naturally this reporting interface would have to be some super cool, flash, Web 2,0 doo-dad. Hey! It could even be the Flex Charting components from Adobe.

It will be interesting to see how well Firefox 3, Opera 9.5, and IE 8 perform after they are released to the public. I’m definitely not going to miss this one.