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Just Browsing?


Chances are that, unless you are in the far future and this is being fed directly into your brain, you are reading this blog from the comfort of a web browser. What is a web browser? Allow the immortal bard to explain:

What’s in a browser? That what we call a browser.
By any other name would smell as sweet.

Actually there are many names applied to a browser and, depending on your point of view, the aroma could range from heavenly to putrid. The most commonly used web browser according to StatCounter¹ is Google Chrome, followed by Internet Explorer (IE), Firefox and Safari. To complicate matters even worse, each web browser is made up of multiple versions; which means that even if the majority of your users are Firefox fans, you’ll find that only 10-20% of those users will have the same version.

Why does this matter, I hear you ask through the intertubes? It matters because a large part of Terrostar is firmly rooted in Web based design and development; and subsequently we are faced with the daunting task of making sure that the user experience we have designed for a client, is going to be as consistent as possible across every-single-browser.

The old days were easy, IE and Netscape were duking it out in a major war to capture market share. Despite a race from both companies to grab as many users as possible, web developers only needed to make sure that a client’s website worked on IE and Netscape Navigator. Today, we run into situations where we have to build a modern website that must work on IE 7, 8, 9 and 10. Commonly, we can safely ignore IE7 but the feature changes that appear between IE8 and IE10 are so great that browser testing can put a great load on our testing team. Remember, this is just ONE of the browser types out there; we run into difficulties with major version changes with all browsers.

So how do we avoid blowing our budget on testing? By using standards. Not our own standards, but those created out of the fires of mount doom (aka the IE/Netscape war). The standards, too, have evolved over the years, HTML5, which brings forth so many new features and abilities that were not available in the old days. Not only do standards provide us the documentation to create new and wonderful things, but they allow us to create amazing products that will work across multiple browsers and across multiple versions.

So basically, you can test most browsers most of the time but you can’t please all the browsers all the time....or can you?! [CM]

¹ http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Usage_share_of_web_browsers_(Source_StatCounter).svg