Quality Assurance for Webmasters - Cross Browser Compatibility
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Here is one that every webmaster knows about, but so few seem to follow up on: cross-browser compatibility. Everyone has their horror story about the buttons that just donít work in Firefox. Or the one about how Opera changed their fonts. It is very important to remember that every browser is different, and they all handle the code differently.
At one point or another, every web developer has had to answer this question: Why canít I have my content show up in this wicked cool font I found? The answer is always simple. HTML is only a set of instructions on how to display the page. It doesnít actually contain the images or fonts. It just tells the browser how to display them. Being a man, I never use instructions, so why should I expect IE to? The browser can and will interpret the instructions however it wants.
This is why it is so important to make sure you have every detail spelled out for the browser. If you donít include font size or link color, you are giving the browser free license to display those things however it wants. This is why I always suggest using an external style sheet. This way you can spend a few minutes detailing every aspect of how the site should look, and then every page looks relatively the same in most browsers. Obviously, the browser can do whatever it wants with the instructions. More often than not, however, they will follow your instructions exactly.
While we are on the topic of browsers, who was it that first spread the lie that Internet Explorer was the standard that all developers should code for? How many of you, by a show of hands, are satisfied with ranking high in one popular search engine and donít care about the rest? If you just raised your hand, get out of my classroom. You are beyond my help. While Explorer is the most popular browser, the other browsers are just as- if not more- important. Think of it this way: what kind of users are using Opera, Firefox and Netscape? Experienced users. The average websurfer, logging on to check the weather and see what new product is on Woot, isnít going to go out of his or her way to download and customize a new browser. This tells us that the users with these browsers are more preferential. They will notice navigation problems. They will care about minor problems, because they expect more of a website and the internet as a whole. It would be a fatal error to disregard these people.
Here is a test. Code a page using very generic elements. Throw on all six headers, put in some lists, and toss in some other elements. Donít add any attributes or styles to anything. Now view the page through multiple browsers. Notice how each one treats the page elements? This is why it is imperative that you test your site on as many browsers as you can, and code things as specifically as you can.
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