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three cheers for browser compatibility testing February 27, 2009

Posted by That Guy in Lessons Learned, Technology Trouble.

It's always funnier to use a LOLcat to tell people they're in the wrong.

It's always funnier to use a LOLcat to tell people they're in the wrong.

I am generally in charge of building the first (and second, and third, etc) version of all special webpages for my office’s website. However, I was recently not in the office, so my boss built a page for a feature we run every February — a Valentine’s Day guide sort of thing that is evergreen enough to live for an entire month. Unfortunately, due to site redesigns, he couldn’t just copy last year’s.

Apparently my boss has not coded a page in a while. Despite what I told him about Firefox 3.x’s new, stricter standards about commenting out code in HTML.

The way you comment out code is thus:

<!–– you can put your programming notes and other items in here ––>

IE is much more forgiving — you can put as many dashes and spaces as you want. Firefox does not permit that. If you put an extra dash, the code is commented out, but the comment does not end cleanly. At best it leaves a very large white space, and at worst it displays things you don’t want seen for whatever reason.

So I found this:

<!–––      begin content          –––>

Yeah. That’s not going to work in Firefox at all.

But here’s the thing: if my boss had done any cross-browser compatibility testing, he would’ve known it wasn’t working and at the very least he could’ve called me and said, “hey, this isn’t working. Why?”

Instead he just looked at the page in IE, decided it was good enough, and pushed it live.

No one complained; that’s why he never noticed it. But I recently took a couple of telecommute days and, when telecommuting, I tend to use Firefox more often because it renders faster*. Otherwise, no one important would have figured it out.

Anyway, I fixed it in about ten minutes.

There are plenty of apps available for browser compatibility testing. BrowserShots is one of the most popular and most comprehensive. I personally prefer doing it by hand, loading pages in the five major browsers to test them. But whatever your particular preference is, browser compatibility testing is a must these days. Gone are the days when Firefox and Safari users looked at an incompatible site, sighed, and worked around the problem.

Except where management is concerned. For them, it’s not a problem until it’s a problem, and until the Big Boss thinks it’s a problem, it’s not a problem. And since the Big Boss uses IE, well… you get the point.

* A lot of our work must be done in IE because a preponderance of our site visitors use IE — and so does the Big Boss, who matters more than any of them. Also, a lot of our internal-use-only corporate-supplied web apps only work in IE, despite what corporate says about them being compatible across all platforms. If that’s the case, I guess my boss is just acting as the corporate office acts.



1. Mike - March 1, 2009

Just passing by.Btw, your website have great content!

Making Money $150 An Hour

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