Browser testing

Roger Johansson details his browser testing strategy and it is far more extensive than mine–at least for CSS and markup, though I go much further when it comes to JavaScript.

  • I start with, and use extensively, Firefox on the Mac. The main reason why is the extensions, specifically Firebug. I think that Joe Hewitt’s Firebug is the third single-most important component of today’s new web development–following on Mozilla’s innovative architecture, which enables such extensions, and REST.
  • I then test with IE7 on Windows XP. Why? Because if anything I do is going to break, it will break with IE. I no longer have an IE6 box, but I do use Total Validator to take screenshots in IE6 and Konquerer if I’m working on issues of design.
  • Next, I test with Opera on the Mac, which helps me discover those things that Firefox allows that aren’t necessarily standard. I find Opera to be the most standards compliant browser.
  • Then I go to Safari and the most current WebKit, both still on the Mac.
  • I need to test with Camino and Flock more. However, my logs tell me I have people using IE, Firefox, Safari, some Opera, rarely Konquerer, and older versions of IE, on Windows and the Mac. These are my target audiences.
  • I tested the book with OmniWeb, but I don’t have it any longer as it’s a ‘cost’ browser and the cost isn’t justified.
  • I test with Netscape and Opera on Windows XP, last. I used to test for IE6, and I did for the book. However, I don’t have access to a IE6 machine, now, so am dependent on IE6 users to tell me if something breaks.
  • I provide a mobile stylesheet, which Ralph at There is no Cat, was kind enough to test for me. I also use Opera’s mobile feature to test.

One thing I talked about in the upcoming Adding Ajax book is understanding your audience before making a choice of target test browsers. If we use progressive enhancement as a development approach, which means creating the functionality without the use of scripting and then gradually adding script effects, then we always have a natural fall back if a script effect doesn’t work with one browser or another: just disable the effect for the browsers that choke. Those few who are still using IE 5.5 on the Mac (why?), or IE 3.2 (WHY!), at least get a decent shot at a workable page, if not a terribly interactive or visually appealing page.

Then there’s my feeds. If all else fails, I provide full content feeds.

Roger’s mention of semantic markup is spot on, also. I haven’t been pursuing this as diligently as I should, and plan to go over my design one more time and look for better uses of markup—after the book has gone to production, of course.

My biggest design problem? Fonts. I can never find a font that seems to look good everywhere, and that scales as well as I’d like for each resolution. That’s mainly because I haven’t taken the time with fonts as I should. Another thing to explore as soon as the book is finished.

Oh, and this site is using a conditional IE stylesheet.

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