Web Software & Web Development - is backwards compatibility dead or merely sleeping?

This is in response to a conversation that developed where I mentioned backwards compatibility.

As I work in SaaS (Software as a Service), web design is only a part, (and of course I say a very important part), of web software development. There’s the front-end, the back-end, and the constant need to create new versions to keep up with new web features and protocols.

My experience is that corporate software is very slow moving. Quite a few companies that I know of have only recently moved from Windows 7 to Windows 10 in the past year or so. Chrome has moved in on IE as a browser, for businesses, but in terms of corporate software, Microsoft still has the lion’s share. Tablet and phone use for businesses is increasing - and although security for all platforms is paramount - it’s not always in place or easy to implement.

Technically, it was and is more important for certain software to work for corporate users on older platforms than for individual users who have the latest and greatest. In fact, my experience has been that it has to work on both, or you lose customers. And since there are global branches and global users to consider, I’m of the opinion that backwards compatibility is still part of the conversation.

Procedurally, it has never been an option to tell a company that in order to use or continue to use your software or site they have to update their platform - it’s not a viable business strategy - it’s always been - write / update the code to make it work - as the client can always dump you and use someone else’s program, or click on someone else’s advertisements.

That being said - when designing your webpage, and/or software:

  • Do you care whether you exclude users whose systems may be older or who don’t have access to the most recent software versions of their programs yet?
  • How often do you update your code to include the most recent Web protocols and developments? Is this scheduled or on the fly?
  • Are there any situations that would make you consider backwards compatibility? If so, how far back would you go?
  • Have you run into any instances where you had to “re-do” things in order to make things work for a client / user?
  • How confident are you that the code you write today will still be viable in a year? Two years? Five years? Ten years?

Just wonderin’.

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