Graded Browser Support Q4 Update

“Expecting two users using different browser software to have an identical experience fails to embrace or acknowledge the heterogeneous essence of the Web.”

Nate Koechley introduced Yahoo!’s smart concept of graded browser support nine months ago. Until then we did test a lot of browsers, but all browsers were supported equal. Now came this man who suggested distinctions, a graded instead of a boolean or binary support.

  • There is a blacklist of C-grade browsers. They are antiquated, but core content and functionality should work in them. Never mind the design though, as some of them do not support CSS 2. Semantics and good accessibility are more important and tested by QA.

  • Then there is a whitelist of advanced (A-grade) browsers supporting modern web standards. QA tests these browsers, and bugs are handled with high priority.

  • The rest of the unknown or rare browsers are X-grade. It is assumed they support modern web standards, but it would be inefficient and impossible to test them.

That’s a very pragmatic and efficient framework since it adds scalability for QA.

Almost unnoticed were two updates of the browser matrix in August and a couple of days ago where Opera 8 got replaced by Opera 9, also support for Internet Explorer 5.5, Safari 1 and Firefox 1.0 has been discontinued because they are vanishing species. Support for Firefox 2.0 has been added, while Mozilla suite has been terminated since there are virtually no differences between Firefox and Mozilla suite.

Our own matrix includes Konqueror, but otherwise it’s more or less the same as the current Yahoo! browser matrix, although we do not test rare Windows versions like Windows 98 or 2000. Here is the adapted matrix we use in our own projects. Do you think that’s a reasonable approach?

Matrix of supported browsers in BlueMars projects

Windows XP Mac 10.4 Linux
IE 7.0 A-grade n/a n/a
IE 6.0 A-grade n/a n/a
IE 5.5 C-grade n/a n/a
IE 5.0 C-grade n/a
Firefox 2.0.x A-grade A-grade A-grade
Firefox 1.5.x A-grade A-grade A-grade
Firefox 1.0.7 X-grade X-grade X-grade
Opera 9.0 A-grade X-grade X-grade
Safari 2.0.x n/a A-grade n/a
Konqueror 3.5.x n/a n/a A-grade

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