At Lunascape, we’ve been excited about building a fast, flexible, easy-to-use browser since we started coding in 2001 (founded company in 2004). 10 million downloads later and we still feel like we’re learning new things every day. But browsers have become, more than ever, the center of many users’ computing life, and we’re excited to be part of this part of the software industry.
Have you noticed? If your browser disappeared, or somehow wasn’t functioning, how much work could you get done? Some? None? It has become a core technology in your life, along the lines of a telephone. Don’t believe me? Try setting up your next business trip to Tokyo without using a browser.
Such a core function should not be co-opted by one company. Browsers must not become like the balkanized cell phone industry in the US, focusing on company territory, neglecting innovation, and innovative technologies. Browsers should be judged on the best code, the fastest test scores, the most interesting use of Internet technologies.
Let’s talk about the technology in a browser for a minute. At the core, there is a rendering engine for the browser. The rendering engine is software that takes marked up content such as HTML, XML, image files, and formatting information such as CSS and XSL and displays the content on the screen. It renders all the various parts of a web page properly, in other words. Doing that quickly and efficiently is important.
There are three main rendering engines. Trident, the rendering engine from Internet Explorer, is used by many applications on the Microsoft Windows platform to render HTML, including the mini-browsers in Winamp and RealPlayer. Gecko, the Mozilla project’s open source rendering engine, is used by a variety of products derived from the Mozilla code base, including the Firefox web browser. Same goes for WebKit, originally from Konquerer, and currently best known as powering Apple’s Safari and Google’s Chrome web browsers.
Which is best? Good question. We’re not here to try to convince you to use one technology over the other. You should have the freedom to decide.
The problem is, people are already tending to argue which is best based on the company that’s producing them, not the technology that’s in them. We’re fans of Windows, though many people use IE because it comes installed on Windows. We’re fans of open source, too, but that shouldn’t be the only qualification for deciding whether you use a browser or not. Is that a good way to choose your most important piece of software?
At Lunascape, we’re not pushing one over the other. The Lunascape browser includes all three. You choose. You always have the freedom to choose (you might even say the freedom from having to choose). No more web sites that don’t work cause you’re using the “wrong” browser. Each of the rendering engines has its good and bad points.
So how are the rendering engines different?
There’s a quick summary. Obviously that are many issues on technical, aesthetic, or philosophical grounds. We’d love to hear back from you which you prefer and why.
We’ve heard it said that the next operating system wars will be on browsers. We’ve heard it said that the next platform play is on mobile. Heck, we’ve read that operating systems are irrelevant. All that breathless predicting makes us think that, well, that you can’t predict next what people will predict.
We’re going to focus on building great software. We’ll let someone else do the predicting. We think you should do the choosing.