Hands On: Early Look at Acid3

Web Standards Project has been designing Acid3 to be the next rendering milestone for modern browsers.

Microsoft raised eyebrows when its forthcoming Internet Explorer (IE) 8 was able to properly render the Acid2 test. However, the bar is about to be raised again.

Since April 2007, the Web Standards Project has been designing Acid3 to be the next rendering milestone for modern browsers. So far, there's not a browser in existence that can perfectly render the part of Acid3 that has been completed, and a significant portion hasn't even been built yet. I ran my own tests on Ubuntu 7.10 with Firefox, Konqueror 3.5.8 and Opera 9.25 -- all standard builds from Ubuntu's repositories.

Unlike other tests that have been done on Acid3 with cutting -- edge browser releases, I wanted to see how well the current browser releases that I use every day for production work could handle the test.

The Results
Firefox did surprisingly well on Acid3, with a score of 61/100 and a rendering that was closest to the reference document. Opera also did fairly well, with a score of 58/100, but the output looked very little like the reference.

By means of a Windows XP virtual machine running on top of Ubuntu, I also subjected IE7 to the Acid3 test. Although IE7 is much improved over its predecessors, the test didn't go very well. There were serious rendering problems, more than with any of the other browsers I tested. Ultimately, IE7 ended up with a final score of 23/100.

Test Procedure
Acid3 incorporates animation and scripting into the test in addition to proper layout rendering. Acid3 puts much more emphasis on JavaScript and DOM3, while Acid2 was focused more on layout rendering.

During the Acid3 test, a counter will gradually increase from 0/100 up to 100/100, which indicates the number of subtests that have been passed. A full count of 100/100 is required to pass Acid3. The test is supposed to show a series of colored boxes that appear with higher scores.

At this time, it's important to keep in mind that the current results of Acid3 are hardly final as Acid3 itself isn't finished. Also, none of the Acid tests are meant to test a browser's full compliance with Web standards. They merely indicate that a browser complies with at least some of the standards. The Acid tests are more useful to browser developers than anyone else because the tests tend to reveal areas that need improvement in a browser's rendering system.

About the Author

Will Kraft is a Web designer, technical consultant and freelance writer. He can be reached at Also, check out his blog at

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