For example if you were displaying flash banners you would start with an image that had alt tags defined so that if the user has a text based browser they read the content within the alt tags. If they have image support they would see the image but if they had Flash enabled they would view the movie.
Browser support levels
The browser support grades are defined in the following way.
Leval 1 Support
This means that the site should be fully functional and display correctly. We will test the site fully in level 1 browsers to make sure any bugs are fixed as soon as possible. Currently our level 1 browsers are IE 7,6, Firefox 2 (3 still buggy), Safari 3, Opera 9.
Level 2 Support
This means browsers that should work without any problem with our software but as we cannot test every single available browser we cannot guarantee that everything will work. For example if the browser is the latest version of SeaMonkey or Firebird which is based on the same Gecko rendering engine that Firefox is (which is a level 1 browser) then the system should work perfectly depending on your browser settings. However as we do not fully test
the system with this browser we do not guarantee it will work 100%. Current level 2 browsers would be Firefox 3, Opera 8, Sea Monkey, Konqueror.
Level 3 Support
This means older or niche browsers such as PDA/Mobile phones that we do not test the system on. This is not to say the system won't work as it might do depending on your browser settings. However we are not going to test our system on Netscape Navigator 4 or every mobile phone to ensure it works.
I also have Firefox 3 in level 2 due to the fact that there are still a number of outstanding issues with the site which need resolving before we would make it level 1. Some of these issues are definitely a problem with the browser such as the well known problem of playing Flash videos which an upgrade to version 10 is the only workaround I have found. There is also an issue with the execCommand function which I am not sure about as the code worked fine in Firefox 2 and other browsers but has suddenly started giving me Component returned failure code: 0x80004003 (NS_ERROR_INVALID_POINTER) [nsIDOMNSHTMLDocument.execCommand]" errors in an iframe based wysiwyg editor the site uses.
Current browser usage
I like to occasionally look at the traffic statistics to see whether our grading of browsers over 3 levels is in keeping with actual Internet use.
The system I am logging against is recording on average 350,000 page loads a day at the moment roughly 50-60% of which are from crawlers which is nothing out of the ordinary. So looking at the traffic from those site members who have logged into the website as opposed to just visitors the browser breakdown for this month so far is:
IE 7.0 61.56
IE 6.0 27.21
Firefox 3.0 5.44
Firefox 2.0 3.06
Safari 3.1 2.72
Which is no great surprise and shows how much of a market share IE 6 still has even after 2 years of IE 7 being around.
As for obscure and old browser versions would you be surprised or not to know that for today only the following browsers appeared in the stats for all non-crawler traffic:
- 62 different people used IE 5.0 and 1 came along in IE 4!
- 5 visited on various versions of Netscape Navigator 4.
- Overall users to the site Yandex the Russian search engine came third after IE 7 and 6.
- There were over 100 different types of browser/version recorded today alone.
Although not earth shatteringly exciting it does show the breadth of browser types available and also that a large majority of the users out there do not seem upgrade very often, some not at all by the looks of things. With new versions of browsers rolling out all the time it would be physically impossible to test a site in each one but if your site works in the major 4 rendering engines (IE/trident, Firefox/Gecko, Safari/Webkit, Opera/Presto) then you will be covering the majority of those users who do keep up to date with browser revisions.