Write once, run anywhere. This was the siren call of Java when it was first launched. Of course, anyone with a little bit of history in the computer biz knows that rapidly fell to : write once, test everywhere. Java simply couldn't be guaranteed to work on every platform. Or did it?
One of the issues that I believe a lot of developers hit was writing software that assumed certain facts about the underlying system: colons are allowed in file names (not on Mac), backslashes separate directories (not in *nix), line endings are \n\r (different on each platform). These were some of the simple problems; if you ventured into graphical or threaded applications the bugs kept roling in!
If you have recently checked out my home site or my resume in IE (horribly broken) or Firefox (font issues) on a Windows based machine (guessing the same on Linux...) you will not see what I see/designed/enjoy on my Safari/Firefox setup on OS X. The evil maw of assumption has bit me on the ass.
Hard -- a potential employer checked out my rÃ©sumÃ© in IE.
I assumed that because I has a validating XHTML/CSS webpage that it would render correctly on every platform. The same issues that I face when developing for Java effect CSS development. This is a bit of an issue as I don't really have easy access to a Windows box and my exposure to Linux is via text/SSH only these days (aside: I know I can use X11 and have, it's slow and painful).
The major kicker is that since I have written *properly* validating code that my pages should appear as intended. At least I know in Java when I follow the proper rules of coding for multiple platforms it WILL WORK PROPERLY.
I feel the pain the web developers have been enduring for almost a decade boiling in me right now. I really don't know how people accept the fact that IE is so horribly broken or that certain fonts are not installed by default. These are things that should just work. There should be a W3C blessed site that will allow missing fonts to be displayed. There should be no way on earth that PROPERLY VALIDATING CSS should not display properly everywhere. I can hear seasoned web developers chuckling into their lattes right now.
Maybe I am just overly sensitive to the entire issue but maybe developers should start charging Microsoft for the extra hours of work they have to put in to work around known issues in their web development platform. Maybe developers should just start putting "You are using a broken browser" at the top of pages rendered in IE. Maybe a grassroots effort to embarass Microsoft into fixing their broken web technologies will make me happy. Maybe I believe that standards are meant to be followed and adhered to for the good of the commons.
Or maybe I am just a silly idealogue who should refrain from implementing the actual UI when it comes to the web and stick with the architecture and design.