Browser Wars - Radiant

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Browser Wars

Posted by Ray Majoran

One of the common questions that we hear from ministries when creating a website is, “What browsers should we develop for”? It seems like a new browser / browser version is being released every week, creating nightmares for developers looking to bring some consistency to their programming world.

According to w3schools (a very reputable site), Internet Explorer dominated the landscape until 2005 when Firefox started making a splash. The following chart shows the history of the last six and a half years:

Browser Statistics - 2003-2009

As an end-user it’s great to see all of the options that are now available to us, but as a company creating websites, it definitely makes things difficult. For example, the difference between Internet Explorer version 6 and version 8 are literally night and day. However, as of last month, 15% of users use IE6, 19% of users like IE7, and 7% of users have made the switch to IE8. Which begs the question, “At what point do you stop supporting older browsers like IE6?” Furthermore, how do you predict what browser versions are going to be compatible with your site in the future? When IE8 came out, it was incompatible with over 2,400 major sites (including CNN, Facebook and YouTube). So how do you predict this stuff?

The simple answer is – you don’t. You just go with the times and are literally at the mercy of these companies that are developing browsers and technologies at an unheard-of rate. The best thing you can do is stay up-to-date with the current web standards and hope for the best. When the next version of a browser comes out, test out your site, determine the incompatibilities (if any), and set a roadmap to make the necessary upgrades.

At Electricurrent and AdvancedMinistry, we make a point to watch out for the latest updates and inform our customers accordingly. To help you in the process of determining which browsers you should support, let us share with you our list to help you get started.

Standard browsers that we WILL currently test on:

  • Firefox 3.x for Windows
  • Firefox 3.x for Apple
  • Firefox 4.x for Windows (Beta)
  • Firefox 4.x for Apple (Beta)
  • Microsoft IE 7.x for Windows
  • Microsoft IE 8.x for Windows
  • Google Chrome 1.x for Windows (auto-updates, not forced)
  • Safari 3.x for Apple
  • Safari 3.x for Windows (above 3.2)
  • Safari 4.x for Apple (Beta)
  • Safari 4.x for Windows (Beta)
     

Legacy browsers / other browsers that we CAN test on (if the client requires it):

  • Firefox 2.x for Windows
  • Firefox 2.x for Apple
  • Microsoft IE 6.x for Windows
  • Opera (any version for any platform)
  • Google Chrome 2.x for Windows (auto-updates, not forced) – Note: Chrome is a WebKit browser just like Safari. As such, if it works in Safari, most everything should work in Chrome also.
  • Safari 2.x for Apple (this version was only for Apple)
  • Mobile Devices (Blackberry and iPhone only)
     

Browsers that we WILL NOT support:

  • Microsoft IE (any version) for Apple
  • Microsoft IE 2.x, 3.x, 4.x, 5.x for any OS
  • Netscape (any version for any OS)
     

That should give you enough to get started when developing a “browser testing plan” for your ministry. But remember, this list will probably need to change by the time you’re done reading this blog, because at the end of the day, companies never stop developing new technology (nor should they). The browser wars have only begun.

Oh look, Firefox just announced plans for it’s next version: Read Article

Have fun!