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Page testing for a graceful degrade

11:08 pm on Feb 15, 2001 (gmt 0)

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WebmasterWorld Senior Member tedster is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member

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I've learned the hard way, and I'll bet I have a few more hard lessons waiting. When I create a page, I "stress test" the page for compatibility, and I don't mean just cross browser.

Some of the areas I've found good check out:

1) Color depth -- a biggie. I design in 32 bit color. If I don't do checks at least in 16 bit color, I can get bitten.

2) Font size -- browsers allow users to override the fonts and sizes dictated by the web site. It's worth the time to change browser options and see if the page becomes awful in some way.

3) JavaScript -- if a page is dependent on JavaScript there is a functionality trade-off involved, and that's that. People without js will miss some features. But there are also compatibility problems between different versions of JavaScript, so it's important to check any js features in different ways -- certainly on NN and MSIE at the very least.

Here I'm a little bit at sea. If I have an old version of Netscape on the same drive as a newer version, is the old version of JavaScript what the old browser uses?

4) Window size -- check to see if the page redraws gracefully in different sized windows. How about after a re-size? Netscape can have some very strange quirks when resizing a window. I've seen form input boxes vanish when going to full screen from partial (still don't know a fix for that one, either)

What other areas do people feel are worth considering in designing pages to be broadly compatible?

11:29 pm on Feb 15, 2001 (gmt 0)

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Maybe its a given but page weight. With 23% of the users still at 28.8. I always check it with homesite, but then I get on the old computer at 28.8 and feel the frustration.
9:07 am on Feb 27, 2001 (gmt 0)

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WebmasterWorld Senior Member tedster is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member

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I just stumbled onto another area that can be important. (See this thread [webmasterworld.com] for details)

Be sure to check your site on both a CRT and an LCD screen. I've seen several surprises that were not fun. Besides the animation mentioned in the referenced thread, there was also this problem with text rendering [webmasterworld.com].

Another area where LCD's can be challenging is where usability depends on subtle differences in colors -- never a very good idea, in my experience.

Edited by: tedster

6:58 pm on Feb 27, 2001 (gmt 0)

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Mozilla-based Netscape and pre-Mozilla Netscape remain independent, so NN4 doesn't get a JS/DOM upgrade when you install NS6. Part of what I keep NN4 around for is to support a web site that still depends on layers and IE DOM rather than W3C DOM.

Something else to test is Java. There should be no incompatibilities between Opera and NS6 since they both use the Sun JRE 1.3 via plugins, but NN4 and MSIE have other (older) JVMs that aren't always compatible with each other or the current Sun JVM.

If you have access to a Mac, you might want to try things on IE5/Mac as well, since it has the new Microsoft Tasman rendering engine. Hopefully, IE6 uses Tasman, but I don't have access to it to try it out. If it does, IE6 and NS6 should be pretty compatible on HTML and CSS.


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