Cross browser compatibility

Hey everyone,

I recently uploaded my new site to the browser shots website to check for cross browser compatibility. I have been painstakingly validating my code at work each day for strict xhtml compliancy and I was shocked to see when I uploaded it that some of the browsers displayed either nothing or some jumbled mess which did not even resemble my pretty cool website. Obviously, my site works great on the big 5, google chrome, IE, Firefox, Safari and Opera, I have checked these browsers every day but many of the obscure Linux broswers did not seem to like it at all :(. Does anyone know why? Is it my fault or the authors of these other browsers?


ON browsershots my site was even blank for IE7 which is just not the case at all,

You have a real IE7 on your machine? I would trust that before either IETester or something like Browsershots.

Browsershots does have issue with some domains: I do know for instance it respects the robots.txt. It could be their testing machine could not correctly connect at all? They seem to use the one German guy’s computer for IE8 which is different from the one they used to test IE7 (makes sense). The screenshots I got for IE8 had various disparate things my real IE8 never showed.

Re Linux browsers: You’ll find Epiphany to have serious issues with em sizing. I’m not sure what their problem is. It’s a browser for the Gnome desktop environment. Older versions ran Gecko (and had the problem), newer versions run webkit (and still have the problem but seem to have fixed the font-size problem). I don’t try to fix my site for it: all other browsers on Gnome are showing things fine and decent in relation to OSX and Windows browsers. Some browsers you have to know where their problems are and I think it’s ok to leave some of them, because likely any hardcore users of those browsers are seeing sites like that everywhere and may have changed many settings in their browser to help render things anyway.

Sometimes stuff is covered up in Epiphany, so while I have copy of it, I don’t surf with it.

I believe that which browsers you choose NOT to support is as important as which ones you do. I test routinely (daily at the very least) in IE 6, 7, and 8, FF2 and 3.6, O9 and 10 on Windows (these are the versions I have readily available). I have friends with Safari on Mac and Chrome on Windows which I double check. Beyond those, I don’t really pay attention (with the exception of checking new designs in Lynx to test for accessibility).

However, every page I post is run through the W3C validator and new designs are run through the W3C (Jigsaw) CSS validator. As long as you realize that it gets confused quickly after finding the first error, this is probably the single most effective cross-browser compatibility check. Most browsers (including IE6) do an amazingly consistent job, especially IE6 which I used to think of as crap, as long as they’re handling valid markup and stylesheets. There are only a few very limited effects like my image border that I’ve had to rip out in my IE6 and below stylesheet. As soon as your markup doesn’t validate, that’s usually when you start to see all the “individuality” of each browser come out as it tries to figure out what to do with your code.

Firstly, it’s unfortunate but not all browsers are created equal. Firefox on Linux can have very different results to Firefox on Windows (the same can be said for the likes of Safari on the Mac VS the PC). While browser-shot’s can be useful, it unfortunately does have a reputation for using inaccurate data and serving your screenshot’s from a browser other than you selected (either that or the wrong platform) so I wouldn’t take it too seriously). The best thing you can do is to carry on with what you’re doing… testing on the big five, making sure your code validates, etc. Post that, perhaps have a message on your site’s support / contact page saying if something looks wonky or doesn’t work, let you know (with their browser and OS). Encouraging the visitors to do the testing for you and let you know of specific flaws is probably the best way to test the demand for solutions (and when to start fixing) than to buy a Mac with Windows and Linux running in unison alongside every flavour of browser known to man. That is unless you want to ensure it’s totally compatible in which Mac is the best platform as it’s the only one which can run OSX browsers as well as partitioned Windows and Linux systems. Stuff like IETester is great though, it does accurately reflect IE versions. :slight_smile:

Hey there,

Thanks for the reply, I downloaded another useful bit of software called IE Tester which enabled me to view all the quirky old versions of IE. It looked great in everything back to IE5. ON browsershots my site was even blank for IE7 which is just not the case at all, its definitely their fault and I wouldn’t recommend anyone reading this thread to use it. I have a feeling that only those who pay for membership upgrade will get accurate results but hey thats business, u can’t blame them and that site is a great idea.

It might be worth checking the age and popularity of the browsers in question. Browsershots offers a wide range of browsers, and I’m sure that some of them are pretty old and/or esoteric. Given that the typical Linux user is pretty techie, and given the small userbase of Linux in general, I would have thought any older versions of minority browsers are probably not worth worrying about.

Of course, without seeing your site, it’s difficult to say for sure whether it’s your fault or theirs!