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Here’s a quick tutorial (actually, rant) that came out of an aside I mentioned when doing my talk for Future of Web Design two weeks ago.
It came about when I was using the IE9 preview to test some sites. I noticed that a site that boasts rounded corners didn’t appear to have them in IE9, even though IE9 allegedly has border-radius support.
“Silly IE9”, I thought.
Wrong. Silly developer.
The difference between a pro developer and a wannabe is that the pro developer makes sites that are cross-browser and, as far as possible, future-proof. By contrast, the wannabe assumes that everyone is the same as him and therefore if the site works on the browsers he uses, that’s enough.
Our wannabe developer’s code looked like this
-moz-border-radius: 6px; -webkit-border-radius: 6px;
By using only vendor prefixes, the wannabe developer ensures that this nice part of the design will only work on those browsers.
A pro, however, cares about his client so doesn’t leave them with a site that will need changing later. A pro cares enough about his site’s users to give the design to their browser and let it do with it as it will.
Simply by adding the non-prefixed cross-browser version of the property, he can add border-radius support for IE9 now, Opera now and any new browser that comes along in the future:
-moz-border-radius: 6px; -webkit-border-radius: 6px; border-radius: 6px;
In the above example, border-radius is pretty mature, so IE and Opera jumped straight to using the standard prefix-less property, but other fancy CSS 3 properties are implemented only with vendor prefixes at the moment. Note I said “at the moment”; in two years’ time, a new browser may consider that feature stable enough to implement without a vendor prefix and, because you’re a pro rather than a wannabe, you want to ensure your code works in 2 years time as well as today.
For maximum compatibility, I advise adding all vendor prefixes (I do it in alphabetical order to help me remember) plus the non-prefixed version.
So here’s a version that future-proofs and cross-browserifies™ CSS3 transforms:
-moz-transform: scale(1.6); -ms-transform: scale(1.6); -o-transform: scale(1.6); -webkit-transform: scale(1.6); transform: scale(1.6);
If, for example, IE adds support for the prefixless version, or uses the -webkit- version, you have one line—27 bytes—of redundancy. So what? And now your code works everywhere that has support, today and tomorrow.
And that’s how it should be.
See -o- vendor prefixed CSS supported in Opera 10.50, also Vendor-prefixed CSS Property Overview which compares vendor prefixes across browsers.
(Added Nov 2011)
- Prefixr – web utility that adds all the prefixes for you
- MSDN: A Best Practice for Programming with Vendor Prefixes