This article is part of a web development series from Microsoft. Thank you for supporting the partners who make SitePoint possible.
Edge is Microsoft’s new web browser sporting a new rendering engine – EdgeHTML – and an underlying OS to boot in Windows 10. Since upgrades from Windows 7, 8 and 8.1 will be free for most, you can expect a huge influx of Edge users hitting sites in the coming months. Edge is a departure from the past, actually to complete rewrite from past versions of Internet Explorer and I’m sure many web devs will welcome that. With that in-mind, I wanted to share five ways in which you can prepare your site for modern web interoperability and also test for Microsoft Edge in parallel:
Avoid CSS Prefixes
CSS prefixes are used by browser vendors to implement new, emerging CSS features before they have been fully ratified by the W3C. If a vendor implements a CSS prefix, it will look something like the example below (this is an IE-specific implementation of the ‘hyphens’ feature to hyphenate text across multiple lines):
It’s really common for sites to have missing vendor-specific prefixes, or have implemented vendor-specific prefixes when they are not required in common CSS properties. This may cause a webpage to render incorrectly in Microsoft Edge or other modern browsers.
Browser vendors are using prefixes much less now because of the management problems associated with them. Some browsers, Microsoft Edge included, rarely if ever use prefixes at all.
Where possible, avoid the use of vendor-specific prefixes. However, if you absolutely must use vendor prefixes, use Grunt PostCSS to automate the management of prefixes within your CSS.
Avoid Browser Detection
Some webpages use browser detection techniques to determine how the webpage should render across many different versions of browsers. We recommend using feature detection; a practice that first determines if a browser or device supports a specific feature and then chooses the best experience to render based on this information.
For more details on how to use Modernizr, Polyfills and other compatibility techniques, see Martin Kearn’s article on ‘Tune, modernise and optimise your website’.
Edge doesn’t support plugins, so it’s a good time to consider how to move away from proprietary plugins like Flash and Silverlight. Edge does support Flash, but rather than using a plugin architecture Flash is delivered with the browser, and is updated and patched centrally by the Edge team in collaboration with Adobe. For some sites, moving away from plugins is pretty straight forward. However, many sites will find this difficult, particularly those that are delivering media content. The Edge team have provided guidance on how to move to HTML for premium content over on the Edge Blog.
Ensure Edge Rendering Mode
If the directive is missing or doesn’t specify a standards-based document type, Edge may incorrectly display your page. The scanner runs a simple test to determine that your site is set up correctly, so enter your site URL and find out quickly if it passes. If you want to see what the actual test looks like, you can view the code for the scanner over on GitHub.
- Announcing the latest improvements for the F12 developer tools in Windows 10
- Technical sessions on our new browser, Microsoft Edge
- Web development talks from Build 2015
We encourage you to test across browsers and devices including Microsoft Edge – the default browser for Windows 10 – with free tools on dev.modern.IE:
- Scan your site for out-of-date libraries, layout issues, and accessibility
- Use virtual machines for Mac, Linux, and Windows
- Remotely test for Microsoft Edge on your own device
- Coding Lab on GitHub: Cross-browser testing and best practices
In-depth tech learning on Microsoft Edge and the Web Platform from our engineers and evangelists:
- Woah, I can test Edge & IE on a Mac & Linux! (from Rey Bango)
- The Edge Rendering Engine that makes the Web just work (from Jacob Rossi)
- Unleash 3D rendering with WebGL (from David Catuhe including the vorlon.JS and babylonJS projects)
- Hosted web apps and web platform innovations (from Kevin Hill and Kiril Seksenov including the manifold.JS project)
More free cross-platform tools & resources for the Web Platform:
Martin Beeby is a Technical Evangelist for Microsoft UK. While he works across all Microsoft technologies, his particular passion is HTML5. Martin regularly speaks and blogs about all aspects of HTML5 development and implementation. He has written articles for, and been featured in, .NET Magazine, ZDNet, the Microsoft Developer Network and Windows Magazine. Martin is also the editor of the Microsoft Flash Newsletter. Follow Martin at his blog—thebeebs.co.uk and on Twitter.