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Lesson 3 Web browser considerations
Objective Define browser considerations.

Web Browser (Considerations)

When designing eBusiness solutions, it is essential to determine which browser and which versions of browsers your eBusiness solution must support. Specifically, you should consider:
  1. Which browser features will the solution require?
  2. Whether your site is compatible with the capacity of your audience's browsers?

Browser features and versions

As you learned in the previous lesson, browsers typically provide a number of features that vary from browser to browser, or browser version to browser version. Whether your browser supports XML is an especially important consideration. If you designed an eBusiness solution that delivered its content to end-users in XML, only those users with supporting browsers could actually use your system.

XML Considerations

The following page describes the limitations of html HTML Limitations. HTML is the standard content language of the Web. HTML has its limitations, however. HTML consists of a fixed set of potential tags, which describe the type of content for a browser so that the browser can interpret and display the content. This limits the types of content available to end-users and its general use. XML, short for eXtensible markup language, may well be the next generation standard for Web content, because XML offers a far more flexible approach than HTML. Rather than depend on a fixed set of content describing tags (HTML), XML enables content generators to define their own content formats. Why is this important? Because it means that XML not only supports an extended set of content for Web page presentation, but also makes exchanging data quite simple. In the past, a manufacturer who wanted to exchange information with a supplier had to agree on the content format ahead of time. With XML, content, as well as objects, protocols, and error handling, can be defined and interpreted dynamically. This simplicity and consistency will benefit Web publishers as well as Web surfers. In fact, the next version of HTML (dubbed xHTML) attempts to combine the rigor of XML syntax and the ubiquity of the markup language. This will make the creation and viewing of Web pages easier all around.

Browsers that support XML

As of the writing of this course, only one version of one major commercial browser (Microsoft's Internet Explorer version 5) supports XML content. Therefore, if you design an eBusiness solution that delivers its content to end-users in XML, only those users with supporting browsers can actually use your system.

Sophisticated Analyses of Web Phenomenon

We are starting to see more sophisticated analyses of the Web phenomenon and the role that XML will play in its evolution. To understand where the Web is going, we not only need to understand the technologies that define it, but also to understand how they have interacted with one another and with the social and economic system to produce something very much greater than the sum of the technological parts. In this view, the Web was not designed and is evolving in ways not foreseen by the inventors of the technologies out of which it emerged. No visionary drew a picture of what we have today until it became a reality, and no committee laid out requirements for the Web and reviewed designs to achieve it. Instead, its features are the emergent properties that appeared when TCP/IP and HTTP produced a reasonably reliable universal network and the simple but powerful HTML (and later XML) markup languages became almost universally supported in browsers and authoring tools. This is not to downplay the role of good engineering in the success of the many great products that define its individual components, such as IP routers, HTTP servers, and HTML/XML browsers and editors. The principles of sound engineering are the same as those that contribute to evolutionary survival.
Simplicity, modularity, ease of use and low cost of ownership. Conversely, if it's hard to understand, it will be hard to build. If it is hard to build, it will break. If it breaks, it will not stand the test of time. Nevertheless, to understand how the "Web" as we know it emerged from the separate components, and to predict how it will evolve in the future, a higher-level, less technology-driven perspective is necessary.

Your Audience's Browser

You also must make sure your clients and customers are not shut out of your site because their browser version cannot hold the content your Web servers produce. Your knowledge of your clients' browser version depends on whether you're planning for a B2B or B2C solution:
  1. For intranet or perhaps even B2B solutions, you may be able to know, control, or influence the type of browsers being used.
  2. In B2C solutions, however, you will have no such influence. As a result, you will need to design for the lowest common denominator. Use the market-leading browsers that do not significantly inhibit market access to your site.

Market-leading browsers

Microsoft's Internet Explorer and AOL/Netscape's Navigator and Communicator dominate the market. Most eBusiness solutions support versions of these browsers. However, there are significant differences between the performance aspects and content support features of different versions of the Microsoft and AOL/Netscape browsers. If your ebusiness solution will produce content that consists of anything more sophisticated than the most basic text and graphics in the simplest form of HTML, you should take the time to understand the differences between browser versions.

Google Chrome and Chrome OS

When you think about operating systems, you probably think about the standard job titles an operating system wears:
  1. application launcher,
  2. hardware mediator,
  3. file wrangler,
  4. printing concierge, and
  5. task manager.

Whether it is Microsoft Windows or Mac OS X, these are the things that your average operating system is supposed to do, right?
There is a new operating system in town, and there’s nothing average about it. The Google Chrome OS is far from average for one very good reason: It does not do any of the standard operating system jobs I mentioned. Google Chrome OS does do some of those standard jobs but only in the most minimal way possible. Question: What does Google Chrome OS do, exactly? Its main job title is cloud facilitator.

Chrome Browser

Pre-Cloud Computing

In the early 1990s, the computer company Sun Microsystems launched a new marketing campaign with a singularly perplexing slogan:
"The network is the computer." I cobbled together my first network in 1993, the only upshot was that I used floppy disks less. My computer stayed resolutely in front of me, and I am sure this was the case for most folks back then.
However, in the past few years we have seen Sun's slogan become reality. As the number of things we did online increased, from banking to reading news to sharing photos, we observed how the network ( the Internet) is now at least an extension of our computers. And as we increasingly access our data using wireless technologies. We see that a large portion of our computing lives is now out there in cyberspace.

Question: If you're choosing a browser for a B2C solution, why is it a good idea to choose one of the more popular browsers on the market?
Answer: It will be supported by most systems and most servers. Therefore, you will not exclude any potential customer from your site because of low bandwidth or poor system support. The next lesson is about the role of Web servers in an eBusiness solution.

Web Browser - Quiz

Click the Quiz link below to check your understanding of Web browsers and the factors to consider before choosing one.
Web Browser - Quiz

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