Professional JavaScript | 35 | WebReference

Professional JavaScript | 35

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Professional JavaScript

Other JavaScript-Enabled Browsers

In their most basic forms, HTML and JavaScript aren't complicated technologies to implement on software. There are dozens and dozens of Web browsers now. Therefore it should be no surprise that the number of browsers supporting JavaScript is expanding ...although these other browsers don't have large market share. It's broadening to briefly consider the full landscape of possibilities before we return to the labor of learning the major browsers and their JavaScript inside and out. Who knows -particular features of these eclectic browsers might be especially suited to the task you have in mind.

Personal Computer Browsers

Before the World Wide Web and the browser sprang into existence as a source of digital entertainment, there was the personal computer. Personal computer these days generally means an Intel-based Microsoft Windows computer, but there are other personal, or home computers out there. Browsers and platforms vary, but JavaScript appears much the same across several of them.


Not many people achieve fame by being third, but Opera Software appears to have done it. Their JavaScript support is at the Netscape Navigator 3.0 level. The main version of their browser runs on Microsoft Windows and operates in MDF (multi-document format) as illustrated below, or it can run with free, floating windows like the other major browsers.


Why would you worry about JavaScript compatibility with this browser? There are a only a couple of niche reasons. Firstly, their browser still fits on a single floppy disk - the only browser that does and still supports JavaScript. So if you are supplying Web files for someone to read on a disk, and if they display correctly with Opera, you can supply the whole browser on the disk as well - useful for mail-out programs. Secondly, Opera's so-called Project Magic shows the company's enthusiasm for porting the browser to every obscure computer under the sun. If you are a company of one serving a tiny market niche like the Amiga, then it probably pays to construct your scripts to support this browser, since that's what your customers will use. Finally, one possibly novel feature of Opera is its accessible keyboard support - every operation can be done from the keyboard. For automated testing of Web pages, this might make your life easier and provide you with a compatibility guarantee for pages developed mostly under IE.

Opera may need to weather some fierce competition from Netscape 5.0, which has stated design goals of 'fast and small like Opera, but better'. Only time will tell how well this company survives. Opera is downloadable from


Another interesting PC browser is NeoPlanet, Instead of being written from nothing, this browser consists of the core of Netscape 5.0 and the core of Internet Explorer 4+. Using a simple button, you can view a given Web page exactly as either major browser would display it. Because of this design, NeoPlanet doesn't give you much that is new, except possibly some amazingly subtle JavaScript compatibility bugs. However, they're working on giving you more features, and what they do give you is the chance to brighten the appearance of your browser up with some graphical magic, resulting in a look and feel (and sound) that seems more like a computer game than anything else. Here's an example of one of the many appearances of their browser - pretty slick, even before you start surfing, as is shown in this image.


Not everything has to be concrete; if it's style over content for you, then NeoPlanet could be your thing.


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Created: April 12, 2001
Revised: April 12, 2001