Over our Australia Day long weekend, our dev team added Gears support to our Influencing media relations platform.
With Gears support, and particularly when loaded from Chrome, what previously might have taken 30 seconds or more to load completely is now down to less than 10 seconds. Chrome also lets users create an application shortcut which pretty much transforms our website into a desktop-style application. Firefox3 is not too far behind in performance and Prism can also be used to create the desktop-like experience, although its a more complicated process than the one-click Chrome function.
We started re-architecting our site three-years ago with the expectation that RIAs would be common-place by now and browsers and other new technologies would be optimised to support that kind of environment. We launched early last year and the fact that Internet standards, browsers and related technologies had not progressed as we might have expected has been annoying and frustrating. Don’t even get me started on the amount of time we spent having to develop work-arounds for IE6. If you’d have told me 3 years ago, we would still have a significant group of users stuck on IE6 I’d have laughed out loud.
I’m thankful IE8 is getting close to coming out of beta, although reports suggest that the performance gains are modest, when compared to Chrome and Firefox3, but I’ll take any progress over none. It’s probably going to take another iteration for Microsoft to get IE to where competitive browsers are now, and that’s probably when developers will get bolder with RIA-style functionality. In the meantime, though, we have Gears and a stable Chrome and a decent environment with FF3 that we can point users too, but we’d much rather not have to recommend one browser over any other.
Sometimes, moving at “internet-speed” isn’t moving very quickly at all.