ocPortal Tutorial: Browser version requirements
Written by Chris Graham, ocProductsThis is a tutorial that details the default browser requirements for visitors to an ocPortal site.
Table of contents
The browser wars and vendors/versionsTowards the end of the 1990s, after Microsoft started seriously competing with Netscape rather than matching it, there was a very fast period of Internet development. Microsoft and Netscape both created technologies and submitted them to the W3C for standardisation, and the two browsers developed head-to-head, until Netscape essentially went out of business due to loss of sales when Internet Explorer was bundled with Windows and all ISPs switched to supporting it instead of Netscape Navigator.
ocPortal is designed to work on all serious modern browsers. At the time of writing, this means that we aim to support:
- IE8 (without full display fidelity)
- Opera (a popular, commercially developed, but now free, browser)
- Konqueror (an important browser on Linux, almost a default browser)
- Safari (the default browser on Mac OS X, based on Konqueror)
- Google Chrome
With browsers other than IE, we support the latest version. This is because their users are very likely to keep the browsers up-to-date.
We also provide support for high quality text-mode browsers such as 'Lynx' and browsers designed for people with disabilities. The inherent nature of this support is that it is partial support for an 'accessible' experience, rather than a 'wizz-bang' experience.
TechnologiesocPortal makes use of a number of client-side web technologies, including:
- XHTML5 (HTML formalised to be a proper XML format) – structure, glue and content for a document
- CSS – stylisation for structured content
- PNG – for images
- RSS, Atom and OPML – (optional) feed technology, to export ocPortal news
- XSLT – (optional) technology to make RSS, Atom and OPML display in a web browser
- XML Schema and XML – for Comcode-XML
XHTML is like the glue that any supported browser will support. A lot of 'HTML' pages are actually technically XHTML, as an XHTML document is almost viewable on a pure-HTML (read: very old) browser.
PNG is an image file format. PNG is used in favour to GIF, as it supports images more than 256 colours, 'alpha transparency' (blended transparency that is not tied to background colour) and is not encumbered by software patents.
RSS, Atom and OPML are usually viewed in a separate program, such as 'FeedReader'. However, the latest generation of web browsers also provide their own feed subscription support. Firefox supports 'Active Bookmarks' that are assembled from links in an RSS feed: this works with ocPortal news.
BrowserStack are kind enough to provide free testing capabilities to the core ocPortal developers. It is a high-quality service.
- A machine may only have one Microsoft browser installed.
- To test on mobile devices you really should test on a proper mobile device to get a real feel for things.
- Safari only works on Mac OS, so you need a Mac.
- Internet Explorer only works on Windows, so you need a Windows install.
- On browsers such as Google Chrome operating system font rendering differences may mean things lay out slightly differently on different operating systems.
There are a number of things that can help you with testing:
- Google Chrome has excellent device emulation, for quick/earlier testing for different mobile devices (not a substitute for proper testing).
- Internet Explorer lets you run in compatibility modes to test on earlier versions of their engines (imperfect, but useful).
- IETester lets you test much older Internet Explorer versions (imperfect/unstable, but useful).
- Virtual Machines let you test different Internet Explorer browsers without needing separate physical machines. Microsoft supply free images to help. They come at a hefty download size though, uses lots of disk space, and using VMs means lots of RAM usage.
CookiesocPortal does not require cookie support, although it is recommended. To at least have 'session cookies' enabled is strongly recommended, as otherwise ocPortal will need to carry additional data along in the URL.
Desktop settingsA screen-resolution of at least 1024x768 is strongly suggested, as this is the minimum resolution that we design the default theme for.
ocPortal users must be using 15 bit colour or higher. In other words, 256 colour is not supported: users are very unlikely to be using this any more.