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Cross Browser Compatibility For The Mac, OS Question

     
1:20 pm on Aug 15, 2005 (gmt 0)

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Hi All,

I recently started doing some cross browser compatibility coding for the mac and was wondering if it made a difference what OS I was using to perform these tests?

Currently I'm running Mac OS 9.1, but we have an extra copy of OSX I can install. I was just wondering how much of a difference it would make?

I didn't think it would matter if I was using an updated browser. I'm using IE 5.1.7 right now for testing. As far as I know this is the newest version of IE for the Mac. Should I upgrade my OS or does it not matter?

3:01 pm on Aug 15, 2005 (gmt 0)

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You should probably move to OSX for serious web development. The Mac browser with the largest market share by far is Safari, which is only available on OSX, not OS9. The last version of IE for Mac (which is now a discontinued product) is IE 5.2.2 (I think), so you should update from 5.1. Testing in Safari should be considered vital these days.

Trouble is, the vast majority of end users will be using IE on Windows, which is not the same as IE for the Mac. A lot of developers using OSX run Windows in an emulator such as VMWare - this will allow you to run, say, Windows XP with IE6, and Windows 98 with IE5.5 and 5.0.

Other browsers which you will need for testing are Firefox and Opera, both of which are available for OSX.

4:24 pm on Aug 15, 2005 (gmt 0)

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n8er,

Fyi, the most recent, and final, version of IE for the Mac is 5.2

4:47 pm on Aug 15, 2005 (gmt 0)

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Thanks for the input. I hope the somewhat archaic Imac I have will support OSX without crapping out on me. I'll keep my fingers crossed.

By the way, I am testing with FF and IE on both OS's. The newest version of IE that was supported by 9.1 was IE 5.1.7.

Just out of curiosity does anyone know why the version of my OS would make a difference? I mean if I was doing the same tests on a Windows box running 98, 2000, ME wouldn't it render the same as if I was using XP as long as I had the most up to date browser and plugins? Why would it be different on a Mac?

?

5:34 pm on Aug 15, 2005 (gmt 0)

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IE/Mac and IE/Windows share the same name, but they are very different browsers. Rather than adapting the Windows version of IE, Microsoft developed a completely separate rendering engine for IE/Mac. It was quite advanced for its time, but others have surpassed it in terms of standards compliance now.

So unfortunately, just because something works in IE/Mac doesn't mean that it will work in IE/Win.

3:41 pm on Aug 18, 2005 (gmt 0)

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So unfortunately, just because something works in IE/Mac doesn't mean that it will work in IE/Win.

Definitely agree here. IE/Mac does not support half of the js scripts out there, especially nested menus, dropdown menus, etc. Compatability issues across multiple platforms and browsers are the reason I went bald :-) It seems everybody wants their site to work on everything, yet they want all the bells and whistles too. Kind of tough when using Netscape 4x on a 8500.

4:16 pm on Aug 18, 2005 (gmt 0)

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Yeah I no longer design for Netscape 4.anything. I remember back in the day having to create seperate pages and apply a sniffer to kick the browser to the appropriate page based on what browser they were using.

It's kind of funny less than 4% of our traffic is even using Macs. The thing that spurred this whole cross browser compatibility thing was that my boss is a mac user. I am a firm believer in cross browser compatibility as it is something any decent designer should take into account when developing.

It seems everybody wants their site to work on everything,yet they want all the bells and whistles too.

I hear you there. I have a client that can't wrap his head around why he can see the colored scroll bar in IE, but not in FF. Some things just aren't supported doesn't seem to work for him. Maybe I'll just have to develope my own browser that supports everything.

7:49 pm on Aug 18, 2005 (gmt 0)

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"It's kind of funny less than 4% of our traffic is even using Macs."

If that's the case, you should probably get a windows box for development and testing. Also make sure you have your gamma settings on images done correctly, if you are using mac defaults the page colors, graphics and images will look very dark on windows. You can see if this is the case by viewing the pages on windows, see if they look too dark.

Mac IE os 9 is different than mac IE osx, and neither has anything at all do with windows IE, they are related in name only. You are not testing for IE when you use any Mac IE. Opera mac is not the same product as Opera windows, at least it wasn't last time I checked.

8:01 pm on Aug 18, 2005 (gmt 0)

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I've found that Mac users tend to be more browser savvy than windows users. They often have an arsenal of possible browsers at hand - probably because they've had the short end of the stick from so many web sites for so long.

But this doesn''t mean I'm advocating abandoning Mac users to their own wiles, just because they're more capable of opening a different browser to get a website to display usably than that prissy, protected Windows traffic (what's a browser?) However, a flaw or two on one of the Mac browsers that escaped your notice during testing is usually not as big a deal breaker for those folks as a flaw on IE Windows would be.

8:30 pm on Aug 18, 2005 (gmt 0)

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Well for the record I'm testing with IE & FF on both the Mac & PC. Almost everyone visiting our sites are using IE on a windows machine.

It's hard to account for everybody though. When I started with the Mac I was running 9.1.something before I upgraded to OS X. Little did I know at the time how much of a difference there would be once I upgraded. Now the changes that I made that we're compatible before are now off with the new OS.

9:36 pm on Aug 18, 2005 (gmt 0)

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It's hard to account for everybody though.

It gets easier if you develop in standards mode and always test for valid mark-up. If you start with a valid, standards-based page then you're just tweaking to work-around the bugs on various browser/OS combinations. But if you "develop" for any one browser/OS, you may build something quirky into your design -- some error recovery routine peculiar to just that situation.

1:10 pm on Aug 19, 2005 (gmt 0)

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I just built an all xhtml site that validates all the way through that renders differently from FF to IE. When I viewed the site with Mac OS 9.1 I found some inconsistencies and a couple pages that were way off with their alignment. The reason I developed the site with said standards was so that I wouldn't run into those issues.

It's not impossible to design a cross browser compatible site it's just difficult to account for the many different browsers people use.

11:42 pm on Aug 21, 2005 (gmt 0)

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"The reason I developed the site with said standards was so that I wouldn't run into those issues."

Every browser out there uses a different rendering engine, and each has its own set of bugs. Developing to standards does not make this problem go away, what it does is make debugging and solving this problem radically less time consuming. When you know there are no errors in your code, you can work on debugging the issues themselves. You'll always have to learn the ins and outs of coding for the different browser rendering engine.

This is the way it is, and will probably always be. But support is very good now compared to a few years ago, I pretty much know what bugs to expect now, although MSIE tends to create problems if any browser is going to create a problem. When you go to the bleeding edge, of course, the support each browser will deliver becomes more and more erratic and unpredictable, which is why it's called the bleeding edge. So don't go there.