A Smarter Lizard - Gecko: A Smaller, Faster Lizard - HTML with Style | WebReference

A Smarter Lizard - Gecko: A Smaller, Faster Lizard - HTML with Style

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Gecko: A Smaller, Faster Lizard

A Smarter Lizard


Gecko is no ordinary lizard. It's as if your ordinary little creepy, scaly thing that makes annoying noises and climbs walls suddenly grew opposable thumbs and an enlarged frontal lobe, invented fire, the wheel and language and started a glorious civilization overnight, and managed to do that without having to fight gruesome wars or oppress the better part of its fellow lizards. Gecko is an evolutionary leap in browser technology. It just rewrote the rules without breaking the old ones. Using Gecko feels like living in a new, better World Order that didn't involve killing off the ruling class. It's like being politically correct and still thinking Tarantino films are funny.

One of the things I have said on HTML with Style is that you no longer need to break the spec to get new features. The stuff the W3C has produced in the past couple of years has more functionality than any browser currently on the market can dream of. With Mozilla, somebody finally took the hint.

For starters, Gecko supports HTML 4.0. It might be lacking in a couple of respects (it still doesn't do anything useful with LINK), but it doesn't do anything horrible like remove paragraph margins if you leave out the end-tag. For a taste, Gecko supports the new form stuff such as FIELDSET and LEGEND, as well as the BUTTON element. It also supports table COLGROUPS and most of the HTML 4.0 table model. It also supports IFRAME for embedding documents within documents. And it finally supports the HTML 4.0 event model for client-side methods. We'll have a more in-depth look and some examples later on.

Gecko also supports CSS1 almost to the letter, with what little discrepancies that still exist being worked on by a lot of people determined to stamp them out. And if you think implementing CSS1 is no big deal, show me another browser that supports something as simple as float. Or even a browser with a user style sheet. And then comes CSS2, with its positioning and advanced layout, which although only partially implemented is supported to a huge degree. Gecko has compact and run-in boxes, proper absolute and relative positioning (although, alas, no fixed positioning, so people may still use HTML frames, but I'd wait until the release if I were you), floating elements, proper cascading and inheritance, handling of lists and tables, setting of style attributes on form elements (yes, you can set the style on form controls. I can finally have green buttons for HTML with Style) and more.

Beyond HTML and CSS, Gecko also supports XML 1.0, and can display XML documents with CSS style sheets attached to them. It supports the W3C Document Object Model for Level 0, Level 1, as well as part of the still unpublished draft for Level 2. This means you have total control of HTML, XML and CSS through client-side methods like JavaScript. Everything in CSS is exposed to dynamic manipulation, making nifty DHTML effects possible with lightweight, small scripts. Gecko has made many improvements to JavaScript and supports the ECMA-262 standard for JavaScript. Gecko also emulates both Netscape's older, proprietary object model and Microsoft's proprietary object model (so, for instance, you can use document.all instead of document.getElementByID if you want compatibility with Internet Explorer).

Gecko can do a lot of stuff, and it does it the Right Way too. And it's faster than its predecessor. And it fits on a single floppy. And it's an embeddable software component. And it's only part of Mozilla. Oh, didn't I talk about that? Well, I should.

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URL: http://www.webreference.com/html/gecko/
Created: Dec 16, 1998
Revised: Dec 16, 1998