Archive for: February 2012

The Vendor Prefix Debate


There has been a lot of discussion lately on blogs and Twitter about the use of vendor prefixes, and I’d like to add in my two-cents.

I initially came across the whole thing from Chris Coyier at, followed by tweets from various web professionals on Twitter. Essentially, Mozilla (those behind the Firefox browser) wants to provide support for Webkit’s -webkit- prefix (that is used by browsers like Safari and Chrome that use the Webkit engine). A lot of people are saying this is a bad idea. Others are also saying we (the designers/devs) have gotten ourselves into this mess. I think it really comes down to all of us – the browser vendors, the W3C, and the web designers/devs.

The browser vendors have their own set of prefixes that they use for experimental purposes – it is pre-standardized code, and prefixes are not spec.¬†Firefox uses -moz-, Safari and Chrome use -webkit-, Opera uses -o-, and Internet Explorer uses -ms-. Apparently, web designers/devs are using the -webkit- prefixes only, to use properties we call “CSS3”, because they either don’t know about the equivalent prefixes for other browsers, or don’t bother (sometimes, though, they don’t exist). Technically, some of these fancy schmancy techniques we use with prefixes aren’t really CSS3 – yet, anyways depending on how far along they are towards W3C recommendation. Many of these techniques are kind of like previews, and allows the browser vendors to test stuff out (as well as designers/devs too, who can provide feedback). Some browser vendors are already supporting standardized CSS3 properties. But the support varies with each browser vendor, and some browser vendors are using their prefixes to test things, and not all are testing the same things.

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