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Cross platform testing

do you?

     
4:26 pm on Jan 3, 2004 (gmt 0)

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We've gone over this one in the past but I think it's time to bring it up again.

I used to test my creations quite extensively but over the years I've done less and less. My theory is that I've bought into the W3C as a standard and design for it (even though it isn't) and limit my testing to a handful of browsers.

I rarely test on alternate platforms. Again making the assumption that if my pages validate and aren't using any tricky CSS (like absolute positioning) then they should view fine no matter what OS/browser combo is in use. I realize there is a BIG CAVEAT - the browsers must be one of the latest generations.

So for platforms here's the data from one of my websites over the past 4 months:

Windows XP - 39.40%
Windows 98 - 23.10%
Windows 2000 - 17.50%
Windows Me - 7.30%
Macintosh - 4.80%
Windows NT - 2.60%
Unknown - 2.80%
Windows 95 - 1.60%
Linux - 0.40%
WebTV - 0.20%
Windows .NET Server 2003 - 0.00%

There are a hanful of additional OSs but there only occassional.

The browsers on the otherhand are as follows for the same period:

M$ Internet Explorer 6.x - 62.20%
M$ Internet Explorer 5.x - 21.50%
M$ Internet Explorer Subscription 6.x - 3.60%
Mozilla - 2.60%
Netscape Navigator 7.x - 2.50%
Opera 7.x - 1.80%
Netscape Navigator 4.x - 1.40%
Netscape Navigator 3.x - 0.60%
Unknown - 0.60%
M$ Internet Explorer 4.x - 0.40%
Netscape Navigator 6.x - 0.30%
WebTV - 0.20%
CJNetworkQuality; http: - 0.10%
Konqueror 3.x - 0.10%
QuepasaCreep - 0.10%
M$ Internet Explorer Subscription 5.x0.10%
semanticdiscovery - 0.10%
M$ Internet Explorer0.10%
Wotbox - 0.10%
Opera 6.x - 0.00%

There a few attempts by HTTrack and Webcapture which were registered but booted out in there as well.

It's easy to infere that with nearly 95% of the traffic coming from > v6 browsers that I'm in good shape. But we all know how innaccurate/subjective stats can be.

What are your thoughts? Do you extensively test across different platforms and browsers or limit yourself to just a few?

5:10 pm on Jan 3, 2004 (gmt 0)

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It depends on how extensive the testing is.

I'll test all aspects of my sites in mozilla/IE6/IE5/IE5.5

I will "take a look" in Opera, NS4.x, and some of the lesser used browsers.

As for mobile devices, etc. I do not test for those. I'm sure I would if I ran sites that are likely to get visitors from those, though.

5:39 pm on Jan 3, 2004 (gmt 0)

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I don't worry about the various flavors of Windows very much - and rarely has it been a problem. But I'm more and more focused on doing a decent Macintosh test on any new templates - with at least IE and Safari. For now, I'm testing OS 9 and OS X

Any elaborate javascript/DOM functionality takes a good bit of testing. But for basic pages, I'm more and more just testing the basic template on Moz, Opera, IE, and then running the validator on each page but not actually firing up all the browsers unless the page has some exceptional element.

5:54 pm on Jan 3, 2004 (gmt 0)

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When I started using CSS I was testing only on IE6. Then one day a customer wrote to tell me the site was broken. Looking at it with Netscape I realized significant problems. (Remember, I have only months at this gig, not years..)

So now I test with IE6 and Netscape 7.1. My logs reveal these 2 as the most used browsers by my visitors. I know I'm quite likely to be creating something that *some* people can't see, or use. While this is a sad statement to have to admit to, it reflects the limitations of time and resources that I deal with daily. Sometimes I long for the old days where I worked in IT shops staffed with hundreds, but then I realize how happy I am in my current 1 man operation. But I am digressing from the topic.

I did just last week run a few pages thru a Lynx browser just to see what I could see (or not see), and should probably use that resource more.

grandpa

6:11 pm on Jan 3, 2004 (gmt 0)

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I do test on both Windows and Mac OS, but only really because I'm fortunate enough to have access to both in my own home. I probably wouldn't bother otherwise. Even so, I still test on as many browsers as possible.

My OS stats are as follows:

Windows XP -- 48.55%
Windows 98 -- 22.06%
Windows 2000 -- 13.38%
Windows ME -- 8.17%
Macintosh -- 3.37%
Windows 95 -- 1.89%
Windows NT -- 1.44%
Unknown -- 0.73%
Linux -- 0.24%
WebTV -- 0.10%
Solaris -- 0.03%
Windows CE -- 0.01%
Risc OS -- 0.01%

I generally break platforms down into 5 categories:

Major Platforms: Windows and Macintosh
Minor Platforms: Linux and Solaris (and other misc. Unix)
Alternative Platforms: OS/2 Warp and BeOS
Obscure Platforms: Amiga OS, AtheOS, Risc OS etc. - although there's nothing "obscure" about these platforms, they're used only by very few people.
Non-standard Platforms: Anything that runs on televisions, phones, handhelds etc. - i.e., anything that's unlikely to be able to display my website as it was intended.

6:14 pm on Jan 3, 2004 (gmt 0)

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yes
10:29 pm on Jan 3, 2004 (gmt 0)

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I see the same stats on my sites as are listed here, about the same percentages, same browsers give or take, same market share for the browsers and OS's.

The major drag here is that none of these stats, or my stats, distinguish between OS X and OS 9, personally I'd like to know what the realworld market share of both is.

I gave up trying to support IE 5x for Mac OS however, it was such garbage in its DOM support that I stopped worrying about it, except for some basic protection stuff. MS dropping mac IE development and Mac taking up KHTML for its browser engine was great news to me, since at least now you can at least try to support the thing without having all these Mac boxes cluttering up the house. But I am curious to see what the percentages are for pre os x versus os x macs.

I used to test on Linux for Mozilla/Galean, but finally realized that the browsers, except for fonts, displayed pages pretty much the same in Windows and Linux so I stopped, and I guess the newer Linux distributions have the font problem fixed finally.

I wish I could test in OS X because of the problems related above, Safari's incomplete and buggy support of DOM 1, that has been a huge headache for me, I've had to debug stuff with Mac user's I know through email, that's a total pain and takes forever. Some javascript feature, sometimes the simplest stuff, doesn't work properly for x or y reason, so I can never assume a script will run correctly on safari even when it runs perfectly on opera 6 or 7, netscape 6, 7, mozilla 0.9- firebird 0.7

This could be worked around I guess by getting the latest Linux distribution, containing KDE 3 with Konqueror 3, which I guess is basically the Safari code base, so that should more or less display the same as OS X Safari, hopefully anyway, since I can run Linux on my PC.

With that setup you'd see I think pretty much what 99.9% of your visitors will see, especially if run Windows 98 first version, either NT 5 or 5.1, a new linux, that about covers it in practical terms I think.

11:54 pm on Jan 3, 2004 (gmt 0)

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As for the Mac OS X vs. Mac OS 9 thing...

My stats programme allows me to see all the user agents that have visited my site. I looked at the Macintosh page, and it turns out that IE doesn't state the version of Mac OS in it's user agent. It just says "Mac_PowerPC". Safari states that it's running in Mac OS X (not that it could be anything else), and Netscape (and other Gecko-based browsers) states either "PPC Mac OS X" for Mac OS X, or just "PPC" for Mac OS 9.

For example, Netscape 7.02 on Mac OS X is this:
Mozilla/5.0 (Macintosh; U; PPC Mac OS X; en-US; rv:1.0.2) Gecko/20030208 Netscape/7.02
And Netscape 7.02 on Mac OS 9 is this:
Mozilla/5.0 (Macintosh; U; PPC; en-US; rv:1.0.2) Gecko/20030208 Netscape/7.02

Being the "detective" sort, I decided to investigate. There is a distinct pattern that most Mac users that are using Netscape 7 use OS 9, since it's probably the best browser availible for it. Very few Mac users have visited my site with the Mozilla Suite, and I can't say I'm surprised. Now, I can get around the fact that IE doesn't state the version of the Mac OS that it's running under because I know that IE 5.2 will only run under OS X, and that IE 5.0 and below will only run under OS 9 and below. There's only IE 5.1 that crosses over.

Now, time to count up:

Mac OS X -- 50.4%
Mac OS 9 -- 35.6%

This leaves us with 14% that could be using either. So, according to my stats, more people are using Mac OS X than Mac OS 9, although the difference isn't all that great. I'd anticipate that most of the IE 5.1 users would be using OS X, since if they haven't felt the need to upgrade their OS, chances are they're not going to be too bothered about upgrading their browser either.

11:48 am on Jan 4, 2004 (gmt 0)

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The highest ranking non-IE browser on one of my sites (an international one) is Netscape 7.01 with 2.4%, the second is Firebird with 0.7%.
Total IE browsers: 94.6%

As for OS'es, the highest non-windows is Mac PowerPC with 1.2%, second is Linux i686 with 0.9%.
Total Windows versions: 97.6%

My dutch sites' visits are even 97.9% IE.

I don't bother with the non-IE browsers.

6:41 pm on Jan 4, 2004 (gmt 0)

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My site is for Amiga computers, but looking at the stats I get about 50/50 IE/Mozilla... only problem is that most Amiga users spoof as IE due to bad website designers saying they don't support it (nothing more annoying than going to a site which tells you "upgrade your browser", turn on spoofing and it works perfectly - hence most leave spoofing on all the time).

So not only are there browsers that don't report what OS version they're running on, there are browsers that report something totally different to what they're actually doing...

Robin

7:05 pm on Jan 4, 2004 (gmt 0)

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Folks, this thread is specifically about testing on various Operating Systems, an often overlooked ingredient. Let's not wander into browser testing. That gets plenty of attention in other threads.

I split off the comments about browser testing into a separate thread, here:
[webmasterworld.com...]

[edited by: tedster at 7:17 pm (utc) on Jan. 4, 2004]

7:14 pm on Jan 4, 2004 (gmt 0)

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Those 2 posts appeared after I'd started writing my post above.

Interesting about Amiga OS users. I can't imagine that many Amiga users visit my site, but I could be wrong. You say that it's about 50/50 IE/Mozilla on the site for Amiga users. That must mean that almost all of them are spoofing their user agent, since you know as well as I do that there's no IE or Mozilla for Amiga OS (unless you can't AmiZilla, which I believe isn't really "ready" for use yet).

That is an interesting thought. If most Amiga users spoof their user agent, that's probably a sign that users of most extreme minority platforms do the same.

I've had one Acorn Risc OS user visiting my site out of the nearly 58,000 visitors over the past nearly 2 years. Around 70% of people that visit my site are from the UK (like myself). Acorn is an English company, and up until about 5 years ago, a significant proportion of people in the UK used Risc OS as their primary operating system. Although Risc OS has been discontinued, and Acorn have left the desktop-PC market, I'd be very surprised if so many users could disappear in such a short space of time.

I wonder if this spoofing trend could also be true for platforms like OS/2 Warp and BeOS.

7:45 pm on Jan 4, 2004 (gmt 0)

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I'm wondering if there's a list of platform specific (or unspecific?) browsers that support spoofing, did a quick search and about the best I found was an article on TheRegister about banks and how spoofing means they don't support "alternative" browsers because the logs don't show them...

But this thread is about platforms and not just browsers (and I say *just* because iBrowse, AWeb and Voyager are all available on only one platform). Standard browsers like Mozilla and Lynx are available on just about every platform somebody has ported them too, so should be identical, but when you get to a platform where that's not available (Opera is on quite a few, but not being open-source means it's not available to be ported, and as for IE...) then testing becomes harder.

Personally I just ask friends on IRC using other platforms to have a quick look and tell me if anything looks wrong (normally uncovering a couple of typos along the way), but for the platforms without "new" browser support I can see the need to design your sites differently - in my case that means no CSS (which would cut down the page size considerably), limited javascript (wouldn't personally use it anyway), no java, and limited colour palette (I stick to the 8-bit "web" palette if possible).

The effects of using these things shouldn't make much difference - with CSS it just messes up the layout of everything, javascript would get ignored (bad idea to make navigation rely on it then ;-), java wouldn't even get recognised, and I've no idea what percentage of ppl visiting my site have more than 8-bit palettes, remapping would work, but at the expense of CPU use, and who wants to visit a site that uses all your CPU just to load?

All in all, I'm just waiting for the better browsers to be ported to every platfom so I don't even need to think about cross platform compatability (I'm the guy who actually started the Amiga Mozilla porting mailing list, just not enough time to do any coding for it :-/ )

Robin

3:02 pm on Jan 5, 2004 (gmt 0)

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Now that you mention OS9 and OSX - how much of a difference is there between the two? Or is it more of a difference in the browsers they support?

I have never noted a difference between the various Win platforms other than those driven by the browsers they support.

4:54 pm on Jan 5, 2004 (gmt 0)

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Now that you mention OS9 and OSX - how much of a difference is there between the two

A major difference!

OSX is based on Unix (freeBSD specifically)

They took the great Mac interface of the past, including os9, and ported it to Unix, so the Mac is now running Unix, with a Mac interface.

Users have been thrilled with it.

5:34 pm on Jan 5, 2004 (gmt 0)

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Ok, maybe I should have been a bit more clear. How much of a difference as far as what the site will look like. ;)

Come to think of it. Perhaps there's a more fundamental question I should have asked. Are we really talking about the differences in platforms or are we talking more about the differences in the browser versions that are used on those platforms. (like IE on a PC versus IE on a MAC).

6:29 pm on Jan 5, 2004 (gmt 0)

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Fonts don't look quite so smooth under Mac OS 9.

I've just remembered something that I should've mentioned before:
When I say Mac OS 9, I actually mean Mac OS 8 as well -- you'd be surprised at the number of OS 8 users around. Thankfully, it's almost the same as OS 9, so you don't need to worry about it too much.

Here's the most used browsers on the 3 most used versions of the Mac OS:

Mac OS X
Safari, Internet Explorer 5.1/5.2, Camino, Netscape 7.0/7.1

Mac OS 9
Internet Explorer 5.0/5.1, Netscape 7.0, Netscpae 4.x

Mac OS 8
Internet Explorer 4.5/5.0, Netscape 4.x

However, Mac OS 9 and Mac OS 8 can run most of the same browsers -- it's just that more recent versions of Netscape require OS 8.6.

 

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