On Browser Testing
Post from April 10, 2012 (↻ June 9, 2021), filed under Web Development.
This and many other posts are also available as a pretty, well-behaved ebook: On Web Development.
The primary goal for cross-browser testing is to make sure that documents are usable and consistent across different user agents and devices. Even if you understand this to entail both functionality and design, the definition of “usable” is interesting.
Three ideas look particularly important when attempting a definition:
A document should look as intended in all major user agents and devices, yet shouldn’t apply excessive force towards pixel perfection.
A document should be fully functional in all major user agents and devices, yet make smart use of graceful degradation.
A document should be operable within acceptable user and user agent boundaries, acknowledge that there are user preferences and device constraints outside of a developer’s control, and deem a certain degree of user engagement to be reasonable, like (vertical) scrolling, zooming, and rotating.
I’d like to probe these statements—please share your thoughts.
I’m Jens Oliver Meiert, and I’m an engineering manager and author. I’ve worked as a technical lead for Google, I’m close to the W3C and the WHATWG, and I write and review books for O’Reilly. Other than that, I love trying things, sometimes including philosophy, art, and adventure. Here on meiert.com I share some of my views and experiences.
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Perhaps my most comprehensive book: The Web Development Glossary (2020). With explanations and definitions for literally thousands of terms from Web Development and related fields, building on Wikipedia as well as the MDN Web Docs. Available at Apple Books, Kobo, Google Play Books, and Leanpub.