With the advent and following mass adoption of Internet Explorer 7, I’ve been pondering what web browsers to ensure support in, and which one to finally ditch. I’ll explain my choices below, but while reading the post, something like TheCounter’s Browser Stats for February 2007 can be a good reference point.
Let’s start with IE 5. IE 5.0 was released in 1999 and IE 5.5 first saw the light of day in mid-2000. That is almost seven years ago! As you might know, these versions are full of bugs, no support for the correct box model etc etc. I’ve been discussing this on and off with following web developers, and I think that, finally, it’s time to stop wasting our time on these versions. Therefore, I propose that we stop checking things in IE 5. Good riddance!
My general stance about web browser and various platform support
Naturally, I think that as a front-end web developer, the obvious way to go is to support as many web browser and platforms as possible. However, there’s one thing to write good and semantically well-written code, and a completely another to work through various web browser inconsistencies and bugs just to make something work like it should have done in the first place.
For me it’s hard to motivate, most of all to the customer paying for the web site, all the time (and consequently money) put into making things barely hold together in old and outdated web browsers, especially if the web browser/-s in question have a miniscule share of the web browser market.
Do your research
Of course this depends on what web site you’re building, and if it already exists or is a completely new one. When I’m about to work on a public web site with lots of visitors, I make my homework, reading the statistics of the web site in question to see what the user base has as their preferred web browsing tool (just a little over a year ago, the second most used web browser for a large Swedish web site was Netscape 4, with an astounding 4%…).
I don’t develop for “dead” web browsers
My definition of “dead” is a web browser that was released over five years ago, and its market share is unessential (e.g. IE 5), or if developing of the web browser in question was stopped over a number of years ago (e.g. IE 5 on Mac).
My general web browser and platform testing
It should work in a lot of other web browsers as well, but I just don’t take the time to test and make sure a 100% that it works perfectly in them. So, my testing generally consist of these web browser and platforms:
- Internet Explorer 6, PC
- Internet Explorer 7, PC
- Firefox (about 1.5+), PC
- Firefox (about 1.5+), Mac
- Safari (about 1.3+), Mac
- Opera, occasionally (and then 9+)
All versions of IE 5 are as good as dead to me, and since Firefox seems to be the default for most Linux uses (I can be very wrong here), I take for granted that it will work if it works in Firefox on PC and Mac. What I haven’t mentioned are cell phones, and no doubt they are becoming an increasingly interesting target market. Personally, as of now, I don’t do any testing in any, but have so far instead relied on semantic code and proper CSS.
So, that’s my take? Do you agree, or find me nonchalant?