Web Development and Browser Bugs

Posted on November 30, 2011 by

We are not living in an ideal world and software always has flaws. When developing a website, you should address all common browser bugs to easily wrangle them into submission,

For example, CSS designers should have an updated knowledge on browser bugs and take a step back before writing a CSS code. Unfortunately, for many people W3C specifications are not exactly clear and we can’t treat it is a universal roadmap for all browser developers. There are cases where developers need to make some workarounds and deviate from the W3C specs to make it easier for them to achieve development goals.

You should realize that no browser is perfect and always scrutinize each browser’s flaws and inadequacies to overcome possible problems in a more constructive way.

Web owners should be aware that many Internet users are still using old browsers, such Internet Explorer 6, because it’s included in Windows XP, a still popular operating system today.  Unlike latest IE versions, IE6 has brought so many problems to CSS designers, due to the antiquated layout engine and CSS parser. Luckily, IE6 bugs are very well-documented, because the rendering engine is largely unchanged since its release in 2001.

Luckily Netscape, IE6 and other fringe browsers have small impacts on web development because only a few people are using them. Although Internet Explorer is still the leader, Google Chrome and Mozilla Firefox are gaining ground rapidly.

There many tips in the Internet to help people deal with browser bugs using CSS elements. No one wants to go for the least common denominator and people are unlikely to choose years old browser. However, if you want to take this issue to the extreme, you may need to avoid CSS entirely to minimize browser bugs! For example, your priority might be to ensure that your site will work on every possible gadgets and devices, from smartphone to Internet-enabled refrigerator doors, if so, don’t use CSS! Although popular browsers are free and can be downloaded easily, many Internet users still are not aware that there are new versions for their browsers!

In general, test your site thoroughly in Internet Explorer 6, then your site may likely be working nicely in Internet Explorer 9 or Mozilla Firefox 5. If you’re still concerned, run your webpages through a validator and then load them to the browser versions you’re worrying about. You may immediately see whether you need some workarounds or adjustments.

This simple test can tell you whether your site can work perfectly in a browser that you suspect does not support your CSS formatting styles. Let’s say you want to test your site in Internet Explorer 6:

1. Open Tools>Internet Options

2. Click the “Accessibility” button

3. Make sure all checkboxes under “Formatting” are checked, especially the Font Style box

4. Click OK

Based on the compatibility, browsers are divided into a couple of categories: uplevel and downlevel. Downlevel browsers support only HTML 3.2 (no CSS, no scripts). Uplevel browsers support HTML 4.0 and above, with full CSS and scripting languages capability. There are some solutions to handle browser incompatibilities, although none of them are entirely effective. A common solution is to use a pop up that allows users to choose between CSS or non-CSS site. However, many users don’t even know what CSS is or whether their browsers support CSS. Also, search engines may provide links to CSS-enabled site instead, causing potential problems for people with old, buggy or stripped-down browsers. To avoid these problems, you should automate the process by executing a special script to test the browser model and version. If the detected browser is outdated or unrecognized, you can display a warning or redirect the user to the non-CSS browser. This script is commonly called as browser sniffer, but it works only when the user still enables the scripting option in the browser security option.

On high-traffic sites, web admins often impose discipline on any wayward visitor by forcing them to upgrade their outdated or weak browsers, using the DOM sniffer. First, the script will detect the browser model and redirect users to the relevant download page. Do this only if you’re confident that your site is highly valued by the users and they are very likely to comply with your requirement instead of choosing your competitor.

About: This Article was Contributed by Raja. He is a Web Hosting industry watcher and writes regularly on Dedicated Hosting Reviews and Reseller Hosting Reviews.

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