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Browser Compatibility Development Guide

  • June 25, 2009
  • By Jeff Ryan
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Summary

Browser compatibility is more than a technical problem. It is a business problem. If your website does not render and operate properly on the browsers your customers and partners prefer to use, it may harm the reputation of your organization and turn customers away.

Ensuring browser compatibility of your web applications begins with understanding your end users needs. Compatibility development standards and practices to meet these needs must be defined for your organization and embedded into the entire software development lifecycle. Creating browser compatible applications affects the day to day job of project managers, web designers, architects, developers and quality assurance personnel.

Web standards which define the structure, presentation and behavior of a website are the cornerstone of a browser compatibility development practice. Adhering to these standards make what was once a very arduous job more manageable.

The proper environments and tools are needed for developers and quality assurance personnel to test for browser compatibility and to debug problems. These tools and environments should be designed and configured to simulate the user experience of your audience.

There are a number of best practices and pitfalls shared in this article. Creating a browser compatibility knowledge base will help capture the lessons learned and to share them with the broader development community.

Do you have the statistics which show what browsers your customers, partners and employees prefer to use? Do you have defined standards for creating web applications which will support these browsers? Do you have the appropriate environments and tools to test and debug for browser compatibility? Do you have a knowledge base to share lessons learned and best practices? If your answer is no to any of these questions, consider using the information presented here to start or enhance a browser compatibility development practice in your organization. The rest is up to you!

Browser Compatibility Resources

Anyone wanting to study browser compatibility in more detail would do well to start here.

Developing Web Applications Using Standards

Designing With Web Standards by Jeffrey Zeldman
Migrate Applications from IE to Mozilla by Doron Rosenberg
Using Web Standards by Mozilla
Web Standards Checklist by Max Design
The Business Benefits of Web Standards by Mozilla

Validation Services

W3C markup validation service
W3C CSS Validation Service
Mozilla DOCTYPE Sniffing

About the Author

Jeff Ryan is an enterprise architect with over twenty five years experience architecting and implementing thoughtful solutions to business problems. Jeff has defined and implemented browser compatibility practices as discussed in this article at a large financial services organization. Click here to browse Jeff's catalog of articles on enterprise architecture, front end architecture, portal, SOA, Java, XML and XSLT.




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