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Three-in-one Web browsing with Lunascape

Lunascape's triple-rendering engine solves a whole host of browser compatibility issues for the ordinary user. Will this approach win over users?

If there is one battle that continues to rage, it's the war for browser supremacy.

While exact market share figures change on a daily basis (and vary widely from site to site), Microsoft's Internet Explorer commands about 65 percent of the market, Mozilla's Firefox about 20 percent, Apple's Safari about 8 percent, and Google's Chrome about 2 percent.

There are three main rendering engines:

  • Trident, from Internet Explorer, is used by many applications on the Microsoft Windows platform to render HTML, including the minibrowsers in Winamp and RealPlayer.
  • Gecko, Mozilla's open-source rendering engine, is used by a variety of products derived from the Mozilla code base, including the Firefox Web browser.
  • WebKit, originally from Konquerer, and currently best-known as powering Apple's Safari and Google's Chrome Web browsers.

Different engines mean that developers (and users) are still forced to contend with Web sites that are designed with one specific browser in mind. This often means a lack of functionality or a flat-out inability to use a site with the wrong browser.

Three-for-one rendering with Lunascape
Three-for-one rendering with Lunascape Lunascape

Lunascape, (currently Windows-only) is a triple-engine browser that has a new take on the "browser wars." Launched in November 2008, Lunascape continues to push the envelope with its latest beta. In addition to improving the core triple-engine technology, new features include toolbar shrinking, appropriate for Netbook users who require low CPU usage. With this update, Lunascape claims to have the fastest JavaScript execution, according to the SunSpider JavaScript test.

While the Trident, Gecko, and WebKit engines each have their benefits, the inclusion of a three-in-one browser is a novel idea (Lunascape started using multiple engines in 2004) that solves a whole host of compatibility issues for the ordinary user. Gecko is fast, but you shouldn't have to download a new browser in order to visit sites that are compatible only with IE's Trident.

In the end, Lunascape users win, as they can switch engines with ease, depending on the unique circumstances of the browsing experience in real time. It reminds me of a 'Simpsons' episode during which "dessert is three desserts." Maybe Lunascape will make Web browsers a bit more appetizing.

My only complaint? Site accessibility is a much bigger issue on non-Windows platforms, such as Linux, but I suppose that you have to go to the biggest user base, if you want to get the most adoption. I look forward to seeing Lunascape available for Mac OS X and Linux.

Check out a screencast here or download Lunascape yourself.

You can follow me on Twitter @daveofdoom