This advice came from the lead engineer of the Google Maps project, Lars Rasmussen.
Speaking at a conference on Web engineering in Sydney, Rasmussen said Maps' use of the XSL+ (Extensible Stylesheet Language) standard and Microsoft's Vector Markup Language as examples of useful technologies seldom used by Web developers. Both are only supported by certain browsers.
If a Web application takes advantage of the best technologies a user's browser can offer, then "each individual gets the 'sexiest' experience in their browser", he said.
"Go beyond browsers' lowest common denominator," he advised developers.
For example, Maps can command Internet Explorer to use VML to display a blue line between geographical points, but use a PNG graphic format and a linear description for the Firefox browser.
Rasmussen said when browser makers saw companies with huge user bases like Google actually using next-generation technology like VML, they became much more enthusiastic about including such innovations in their browsers. An example of this was the upcoming Scalable Vector Graphics support in Firefox, he added.
"Google Maps was originally a C++ app intended to be downloaded separately," he recalled, going back to the days before his startup company, Where 2 Technologies, was acquired by Google last October.
However, that changed when Rasmussen and his colleagues -- looking for some venture capital -- pitched their mapping expertise to Google.
At that point, the team changed their development model and started focusing on the Web instead. "We were surprised by the things you could do in a Web browser," he said.
Firstly, the Web allows rapid deployment and there is no software for users to install. It's also much easier to make sure code runs on multiple browsers compared with multiple operating systems like Mac OS X and Windows.
The downside is that browsers don't give programmers full access to a computer's resources such as memory, process power and hard disk space. This is a bottleneck the engineer sees being removed in future, although he thinks the simplicity of the current Web browsing experience needs to be maintained.
According to Rasmussen, Google is looking for Web mapping experts to beef up its Sydney office.