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Thread: browsers

  1. #26
    In memoriam gold trophysilver trophybronze trophy Dan Schulz's Avatar
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    And it's about time too.

  2. #27
    I meant that to happen silver trophybronze trophy Raffles's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Paul O'B
    Most users who have migrated to firefox and opera are savvy web users and know that they need to keep up to date.
    This is true, but I caught my supervisor using Opera 7, he didn't know it was up to version 9 now. Also, the computers at uni still run FF1.0 and the system admin guy can't be bothered to update it. It seems I'm the only person to have noticed because he told me nobody else had complained.

    You have all suggested testing against Opera 9 only - what about 8.x? Won't there still be several people still using them?

  3. #28
    In memoriam gold trophysilver trophybronze trophy Dan Schulz's Avatar
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    8.5 is fine to test against, if you can get it to play nice with Opera 9. Unfortunately, I'm one of those who can't get the two to co-exist peacefully.

  4. #29
    Non-Member deathshadow's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kravvitz
    That's because they're working on a major update of the rendering engine and decided the amount of code needed to support Windows 9x/ME was not justified by the dwindling number of users using older Windows versions.
    Which is the crux of the discussion here as well - there is what's known as the 'final truth' of marketing, and for people new to business it is often the HARDEST concept to grasp as it goes against a LOT of what you often hear.

    The 'Final Truth' of marketing: Don't try to get EVERYONE, you're just wasting time, money, and effort.

    The reasoning for that statement is simple - there will always be a handfull of people that will hate and/or never be satisfied with your product choices, and even more people who are too cheap or just too stupid to be expected to 'keep up'. You have to suck it up and accept that fact. Spending 90% of your time and effort to gain a 1% increase in your userbase is NOT profitable - something often lost on web designers, open source advocates, marketing folks and even the consumer (there's a reason project managers are important, it's called labor cost assessment!). There becomes a point at which you have to draw the line and say "It's not worth it!"... failing to do so, well; Oh crap, we need to get everyone - the product needs to meet everyone's needs, hire more people, give more hours... Still not biting, hire more people, give more hours... still not biting, hire more people until we're barely breaking even on profit - still not biting - oh crap our stocks are plummeting because we're barely breaking even devalutating our own investments - DOWNSIZE! DOWNSIZE! (gee, we don't see that cycle crop up often, do we?)

    Writing win32 programs with backward support to the win16/32s hybrid (9x/ME) is increasingly NOT worth the effort, especially now that even the full fledged Win32 api (NT/2K/XP) is getting chopped down to little more than a API wrapper atop Vista's new API (just as it's 'wrapped' on Win64 systems or how Win16 is 'virtualized' under Win32 via wowexec.exe). I can understand companies dropping formal support for a OS that is eight years old and a source-tree that stopped even being produced five or six years ago with ME - it's called good business sense... and quite frankly the dozen or so consumers (exageration) probably aren't 'Worth' the labor involved in supporting them.

    This 'final truth' can also be applied to backwards browser support - there becomes a point at which you have to say "ENOUGH!!! How far back ARE we going to support? Two years? Five years? A DECADE?" Try even getting hardware support or replacement parts for decade old hardware... In the hardware sector 3 years is considered obsolete, 5 years is 'total failure' - and it's been that way for decades.

    My thoughts on what browsers I test against/for works into this principle:

    Current crop: These are what I consider to be 'must test'
    -------------------------------------------
    FF 1.0.x linux, 1.5.x, 2.0.x - You still have to support the older versions because things like debian "stable" releases still come with customized versions of 1.0.x, so back-testing is important; NOBODY throws a bigger hissy fit about a broken layout than a Linux or FreeBSD user.

    IE 6 & 7 - These are a nu-duh. Vista systems will be shipping with 7, it's a free upgrade to 7, but a lot of dailup users are NOT going to convert (they get 'twitchy' about anything that takes more than five minutes to download), and don't forget all the people stuck with corporate licenses who can't install it, yet actually ARE valid owners who paid for it. (oh yeah, that WGA thing is working out GREAT)... IE6 now goes back five years - and has versions for those 'legacy' operating systems like 2K, ME and 98... as such I'd say we'll likely HAVE to support IE6 for at LEAST five more years just given the size of it's userbase - and that Win9x, ME and NT/2K users CANNOT run 7. (and there's a LOT of people out there still running 2K/9X)

    Opera 8.5 and 9.0.x - Both came out inside a year of each-other, so users who turn off update checks might not know... or care... so I check both. One of the 'niceties' of checking against Opera and FF simultaneously is all the stuff Opera 'lets slide' in the specifications is usually caught by Gecko, and the stuff firefox 'lets slide' is usually caught by Opera, so writing to both simultaneously gets you closer to the 'specification as written' - a LOT of the things people say Opera 'does wrong' because FF lets it do it... well, I hate to say it, but it's akin to how IE lets you do a lot of things that don't work in FF and Opera.

    Konqueror, Safari 2.x - Safari is a decent browser with good CSS support, usually if you get the site working in IE6, Opera and FF without browser conditionals, star hacks, or any other 'out there' ways of hiding text, 'it just works'... STILL, it's good to have a look at THE browser Apple is pushing.

    Netscape 8 - Using a ******* mix of Gecko (mozilla) and Trident (IE) this sucker can REALLY screw up pages... Again though, much like KHTML/webkit based browsers, if you code so that your page works in all three without 'diving for the hacks', generally things fall into place.

    The reasons for supporting all of the above is simple: They are the easiest TO support in the first place - and YES, I'm including IE in that statement. The trick is to use ONLY those parts of the HTML specification that actually WORK across all browsers, and to ignore the rest - even if it means dropping some of the more 'silly' things like source order for SEO (which I've generally found to be bull anyhow) or 'no tables at any cost' - which can rapidly turn your css into 'spagetti code' and usually results in time wasted on mental masturbation.

    Legacy: Support is nice, but not a deal breaker
    -------------------------------------------
    IE 5.2 - This is still the best browser for Mac System 9 or earlier users, so people who have older G3's or PowerMacs are stuck using this (or iCab - eew). Generally 5.2 mac was 'brought up' to somewhere between 5.5 and 6 in terms of rendering, so quite often you 'get lucky' with it.

    Opera 8.0 and earlier - as noted by Raffles, you still come across 'long time' Opera users who never think to upgrade... Some pages work, some don't - I really don't sweat it because... well...

    The thing about both IE 5.2 users and 'long time' Opera users is they almost EXPECT websites to all look like a poorly coded myspace page, with broken layout elements, funky colors, fonts running over each-other - BECAUSE the browsers in question have poor standards support, poor error checking, incomplete CSS models, etc, etc, etc. I really had to bite my tongue lately when someone said 'The page doesn't render 100% the same in Opera 7'... being that my gut response was going to be 'DUH!'

    Obsolete: I do NOT actively support these
    -------------------------------------------
    IE 5.x Windows or earlier - Unless the user is running Windows 95 on something slower than a P150, or some crappy decade old Windows CE device, there is NO legitimate excuse for these people to be running 5.x or earlier - and like above they should be USED to websites not working... these people REALLY need to realize it's 2006, not 1996. IE 5.5 'got the axe' from me earlier this year as it official hit the five year old mark, and anyone capable of running 5.5 is usually capable of running 6 - a free upgrade that they were even packing alongside the DirectX redistributable on CD's at the turn of the century.

    Netscape 4.x - I'm still AMAZED there are people out there still using this steaming pile, but again, NEVER underestimate the inability of the average user to realize that after a decade, there MIGHT be a reason to catch up with the rest of the world... These are the same people who think their Abba 8-tracks are "da bomb", still use a rotary knob to tune the TV, and are still tooling around in their Diesel powered 1978 Volvo 242.

    Which brings me BACK to my original point - as a rule, if the page renders in these browsers so all the links and content are visible, usable, and not overlapping other elements, I'm willing to say 'close enough' and walk away. THIS is what I'm talking about above - is it worth an extra couple hours debugging and k-loc of hacks just to support that user or two who can't be bothered to move into this century?

    Of course, a lot of the 'problem' with people on old browsers comes down to people being 'too soft' on certain types of users. Fact is, a number of folks NEED that slap with the trout across the face - it's called a 'reality check' - and if they aren't willing to face the reality that their decade old hardware and 8 year old software isn't fully supported anymore, it might be in your best interest to tell them (that their SparcStation 2 running Netscape 3 won't render the page right - ever) and if they don't accept it, WALK AWAY.

    I see other developers getting themselves into that boat WAY too often, taking jobs from people that have unrealistic expectations, have a lack of the knowledge necessary to even articulate what it is they even want, and then when they hire someone who DOES understand all of the above, won't listen to a word they say - to the point the project ends up a nightmare that ends up costing time and effort for no payoff... This situation is usually excasterbated by their 'previous developer' (or worse, a relative who knows Jack about Jack but likes to talk big because they read Forbes) leading them down the garden path - "But so and so said it could be done that way!" (groan) ... combine that with them being 'tied' to a product or technology that is completely unsuited to what they are trying to do (like using a push technology for realtime chat or php to read RSS feeds from 20 different sites without caching) and very quickly the situation can descend into the ninth ring of hell.

    You can usually tell these projects ahead of time, but the temptation is still there to tough it out in the hopes of things working themselves out - when you'd probably have been better off just walking away from the offer in the first place.

    Right Dan? Weren't we discussing that very situation the other day? Walk away man, just walk away.
    Last edited by deathshadow; Nov 28, 2006 at 07:05.

  5. #30
    In memoriam gold trophysilver trophybronze trophy Dan Schulz's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by deathshadow
    Right Dan? Weren't we discussing that very situation the other day? Walk away man, just walk away.
    More like six weeks ago, and I still haven't gotten the rest of my money.

    Off Topic:

    Oh well. I know a few sleazy collection agencies that would love this account (having sued a few in federal court before myself)...

    What now? FDCPA? Sorry, only covers personal, family and household debts. My agreement was with a company .

  6. #31
    SitePoint Addict justjon's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by deathshadow View Post
    Legacy: Support is nice, but not a deal breaker
    -------------------------------------------
    IE 5.2 - This is still the best browser for Mac System 9 or earlier users, so people who have older G3's or PowerMacs are stuck using this (or iCab - eew). Generally 5.2 mac was 'brought up' to somewhere between 5.5 and 6 in terms of rendering, so quite often you 'get lucky' with it.

    The thing about both IE 5.2 users and 'long time' Opera users is they almost EXPECT websites to all look like a poorly coded myspace page, with broken layout elements, funky colors, fonts running over each-other - BECAUSE the browsers in question have poor standards support, poor error checking, incomplete CSS models, etc, etc, etc. I really had to bite my tongue lately when someone said 'The page doesn't render 100% the same in Opera 7'... being that my gut response was going to be 'DUH!'

    Obsolete: I do NOT actively support these
    -------------------------------------------
    IE 5.x Windows or earlier - Unless the user is running Windows 95 on something slower than a P150, or some crappy decade old Windows CE device, there is NO legitimate excuse for these people to be running 5.x or earlier - and like above they should be USED to websites not working... these people REALLY need to realize it's 2006, not 1996. IE 5.5 'got the axe' from me earlier this year as it official hit the five year old mark, and anyone capable of running 5.5 is usually capable of running 6 - a free upgrade that they were even packing alongside the DirectX redistributable on CD's at the turn of the century.
    So you make your decision based on whether a user could/should upgrade rather than how many users are using that particular browser/platform?
    Last edited by justjon; Dec 12, 2006 at 07:01.

  7. #32
    SitePoint Wizard silver trophybronze trophy Stormrider's Avatar
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    To be honest, I kind of agree with him. If users don't get the latest software to view a website, then they should expect it to be broken. At least, that is the stance I take with personal websites. If I'm doing a website for a company, it will support a lot more.

    Example: BBC turning off the analogue signal for TV as of 2008. From 2012, noone in the country will be able to receive TV through an aerial, but will need to get a freeview box to watch it. I suspect that the fast majority of people at the moment use analogue TV, but when it comes to it... if you don't have the tools to view the content, it won't work. Simple as that.

  8. #33
    SitePoint Addict justjon's Avatar
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    I suppose it does depend on the type of site. I'm sure if there was a benefit to the BBC themselves in supplying analogue along with digital (e.g. to make more money) they would carry on doing it.

    For a commercial web site though, ignoring 5% of potential customers and focusing more effort on 0.01%(?) doesn't seem like a good idea to me.

  9. #34
    SitePoint Wizard silver trophybronze trophy Stormrider's Avatar
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    No, not at all. On my personal sites though / my own projects, I will usually just code to current standards, with some support for the more recent 'old' browsers, but not ie 5.x, ie mac (cause it is just a pain in the neck), ff <1.5 etc


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