It’s getting ugly out there

On this computer, I have the following web browsers installed:

  • Safari
  • Opera
  • Chrome
  • Firefox
  • Vivaldi

Why?  Well, because I can, I suppose.

But it’s a habit going back to creating web pages from scratch.  There were just a couple of web browsers that most people used and sometimes they rendered the output differently.  So, to stop the hate emails about “you’re site sux; it doesnt work”, you test it under every browser that you had to put in a tweak here and there to ensure compatibility.

As browsers matured, there was a coming together of features.  Compatibility issues seemed to go away and some websites actually tried to get you to get your act together with messages like:

“use of the site requires a modern web browser”

and suggestions like Firefox, Internet Explorer or Chrome would be there as well as links and advice for how to upgrade.  This was good, and helpful.

Increasingly, we’re starting to see the ugly again.  There’s a renewed refusal to run until you download and install a particular browser.  Or, advice that you should try a better browser experience by downloading and installing this browser.

Sometimes, you can “trick” the website by using an extension or add-on that changes the user agent on the fly in your browser.  So, even if you’re using one particular browser, it can identify itself to the website as another.  Or, here’s a helpful way of changing the browser agent in Chrome without an extension.  Look at the options…

Screen Shot 2017-06-14 at 8.44.26 AM

Of course, all of this is a hassle.

For me, unless I really, really need to access the website and I’m using the wrong browser, I just pass and move on.

Not everyone has the option of switching browsers though.  I’m thinking in particular of education where the reality is that browsers are perhaps updated annually in the building of the classroom computer image.  It’s not inconceivable that a browser that was great at one time is rendered (groan) useless before its next update.  Or, there’s the perfect activity for your students that just won’t run with the browser that has been installed on your class computer.

I understand the business case for the developers.  Who wouldn’t want 100% market share and a reliable user experience?

I just hope that, somewhere along the line, the needs of the classroom hit their radar as well.

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