Website Issues

Since the start of making this website, I have encountered many problems. These are related to forgetting some php and web browser issues. The idea of having html validated is that we have standards to ensure a website looks the same on different browsers and various operating systems. Unfortunately this is not always the case.

On my homepage and on the about website page I listed browsers I have aimed this website to work under. I have selected these as reports show that most of the internet browsing is done using one of them. Please see below:

2013 IE6 IE7 IE8 IE9/10 Firefox Chrome Safari Opera Netscape Others
April 10.1% 1% 2.9% 1.8% 43.7% 19.3% 1.7% 16.4% 0.3% 2.1%
March 12.4% 2.3% 2.4% 1.7% 37.1% 20.4% 1.2% 17.9% 0.1% 2.8%
Diff Arrow down Arrow down Arrow up Arrow up Arrow up Arrow down Arrow up Arrow down Arrow up Arrow down

The above table shows browser stats from the website log files. Anything consistently under 1% is not shown, including un-reported browsers and older website browsers.

Internet Explorer 6 is still in demand from my visitors, even with newer versions available. In addition to this IE6 and 7 usage has dropped in the last 4 months. The shift is going closer towards IE 8-10.

Firefox usage has increased again and is back in the 40% region. The third place is tight between Chrome and Opera and who can doubt Opera with its high standards. I always rate Opera as it's faster, more reliable than the others and the newest website code works. The rest of the competition are months behind.

The next table checks for usability. Not all of the websites function properly with all the browsers, however I have some workarounds. First of all, the table below shows a list of browsers and if tested a "y/n" to say if it works or not. If you find different, please let us know the browser, the screen resolution and the operating system you were using at the time (Windows, Linux, Unix or Mac).

Web Browser Visual CSS2 RSS Useable
Chrome 1 y y n y
Chrome 2 y y n y
Chrome 17 y y n y
Firefox 2 n n y y
Firefox 3 y y y y
Firefox 4 y y y y
Firefox 8 y y y y
Firefox 11 y y y y
Internet Explorer 5 n n n n
Internet Explorer 6 n n n y
Internet Explorer 7 n n y y
Internet Explorer 8 y y y y
Internet Explorer 9 y y y y
Internet Explorer 10 y y y y
Konqueror 3.5.4-13.5 (1999-2005) y y y y
Opera 9.25 y y y y
Opera 9.50 y y y y
Opera 10.62 y y y y
Opera 11.61 y y y y
Opera Mini 6.5 y y y y
Safari 3 y y y y
Safari 5.02 y y n y
Sea Monkey 1.1.3 n n y y

Some explanations of this table.

  • Visual Check - Does the website look the same across each browser?
  • CSS2 Compatible - Does the CSS style sheet work?
  • RSS2 Compatible - Does the browser display RSS feeds properly
  • Useable - even with some glitches can you still use the website?

Google have recently brought out a browser that they would like others to compete with. The aim is to make the other browsers improve on usability, functionality and look. Although this is a new browser, it displays website very well. The only downside at the moment is that it cannot display RSS news feeds (even in version 2), but I'm sure it won't be long before it does. The browser will allow add-ons too, just like Firefox.

Google have got through a number of versions with their browser (like Firefox). Without keeping a rough history, I've moved straight to version 17). The browser works well with the website. There is hardly much to tweak and for a website developer that's what you dream of. They have kept the browser minimalistic and like Firefox you can download extensions (aka add-ons). There is no RSS support, so if you are into RSS (and this website uses it), then make sure you get that. Like many installs, a browser likes you to default to that so ensure that you have selected the correct options when you download version 17 or all the people on your computer will be affected.

Firefox 2
Firefox 2 seemed to do well in the tests. As the website has developed, I have started to hate the browser. It has affected the display with because it is not CSS complaint. Please see the bugs section for more details on this and other browsers. Also this browser displays the website slightly different when viewed between Windows and Linux OS's.

Firefox 3
Firefox 3 seems to work fine with the site. The only difference that I could find was a height difference of one or two pixels in the header and footer. This is negligible far as I am concerned. On both 800x600 and 1024x768 there were no problems. Firefox allows me to allow min and max widths in the CSS so that I can have the width between 770px and 1024px. This is used to keep the 800 width standard and allow people with larger resolutions to benefit without affecting the look of the website. There has been a recent annoyance. You cannot use "z-index" of negative numbers. You can in Opera, Safari and IE7.

Firefox 4
This website has been tested on version 4. There has not been further testing on newer versions due to 2 reasons: Firefox keeps changing its version number quickly and that is a pain for a website developer. The other reason is that the extensions I use don't all work so I'm happy with version 4. That may lose me a few visitors, but I have to keep some balance. I have not tested version 5-10, but have tested version 11. There are only minor visual tweaks that needed changing and hopefully the missed versions only required the same change as 11. Please let me know if there are any problems and I will look into it on a case by case basis. Thanks.

Firefox 11
As far as I can tell for the end user using the application and as a web developer making the website work, I cannot see why Firefox 11 needed to be called version 11. Every version from 4 to 11 has minor changes. Back when there was version 2 and 3, there were lots of minor version changes. If it was up to me, I would have called this version 5 (or 6 at a push).

Internet Explorer 5
Internet Explorer 5 is a very old and insecure browser. I have not supported the browser as the newer versions work on Windows 2000 up to Vista. Less than 0.1% of Internet users still use IE5 (as of August 2008). I have allowed for an IE6 template to work if this site is viewed in either IE5 or IE5.5 but there are issues. The other fact is that IE5 is so old now, it will not support CSS2 and some XHTML tags of today.

Internet Explorer 6 and 7
Internet Explorer 6 and 7 are not compliant to standards. I can understand IE6 as it is around from Windows 2000 (around 8 years ago) but IE7 is not that much better than you would expect it to be. When viewing the website in IE6 I had to keep the width at 770px because it would not allow for variation. IE6 however allow me to implement min height which is a bonus. This is achieved with a slight trick and I found this a good result with many people still using the browser. IE6 does not allow for un-ordered list (ul) menus. This means that when you hover over each menu, you cannot see the list. Please use IE7, Firefox, Opera or Safari to see this. I have added a workaround so that, when you click on the menu it brings a page with the contents menu.

Internet Explorer 8
Internet Explorer 8 is a success in my opinion. The software developers have worked well to make it comply with many standards. There are some issue but this is a major relief over IE7. IE8 is more customisable tool, has tidy toolbars and requires less hassle than IE7 as you don't need to do many registry tweaks to move toolbars around. If you are considering upgrading from IE 6 then bypass IE7 and go straight to IE8 as there is a compatibility mode for IE7. I wish this included compatibility with IE6 as well.

Internet Explorer 9
Internet Explorer 9 is another success and even from the beta stage. The interface is clear and makes sense after you use it for a while. The search bar has gone, but it is still around. Just type the search open in the address bar and select your favourite search engine (using the icons underneath. Microsoft deserves credit here.

There are some issues. One includes the fact that when you have multiple tabs in a window and want to move the window, it is stuck. It only moves when there is only one tab in the window. Apart from that, less fixes are needed for IE9, many of them are the same fix as IE8 bugs so it shouldn't be much work for developers like me.

Internet Explorer 10
I use IE side by side with Firefox. In the workplace applications work with IE. Now as a tester of IE9 I like how it runs on my computer. You have to adapt to it, but with its minimalistic approach, it gives you more browsing space. This is particularly handy when you use a laptop. I've looked at IE10 and think Microsoft have done a great job. It allows website developers like myself to switch between compatibility views from IE7 to IE10. This allows you to test a website for multiple versions without using third party software or multiple computers. It would be great for all major browsers to have this built in (although Opera just works).

Netscape browsers
Netscape users, please note this browser is at the end of production. Since losing a large share of the browser war (first to MS, then to Firefox), the team has decided to call it a day. The latest version is 9. More info can be found on the end of Netscape. Netscape advise their customers to make the switch to Firefox, otherwise I'd advise people to make the move to Opera.

Opera and Safari
Opera and Safari, what can you say but thank you. For this website there are no big issues to raise here and I'm grateful some people cracked it. Firefox is great too, it's just slightly behind on the compliance issue. There is one thing however, Opera 9.5b unlike the rest of the browser implements newer html (Opera 10.6 does html5). There is code for file upload just using html and only Opera understands it. Just a shame these 2 browsers are not used by many. I like features Opera has like reload every 30 seconds and speed dial.

UNIX / Linux Users
Good news for Linux users. I have tested Konqueror and Sea Monkey and they work a treat. Unfortunately Sea Monkey does not support CSS properly. Konqueror is compliant as far as I can tell. Beats Sea Monkey, IE6 and Firefox 2. Throughout the site I had no major issues.

The browsers Konqueror and Sea Monkey used for testing were not the latest versions of the browser. They are both using the Gecko engine of web browser layouts. For a 2005 browser these certainly beat IE6 and provide more functionality.

I have added style sheets for most browsers (except Opera due to its greatness). This is to fix the minor pixel differences to make the browser look the same across the board. Please note that if you use Firefox on Linux compared to Windows there is minor pixel movements. I know this by testing. This issue is going to be a problem from time to time. On the plus side (according to the table above) I have a website that works for 95% of website users. Just don't go near IE5.

As of June 2008 more people use IE7 than they do IE6 (well done and thank you). IE7 still has problems that browsers like Firefox 2, Opera and Safari had fixed earlier. This is a big shame when you consider how many people work for Microsoft and create this software. I'm sure everyone is enjoying the fact that people are moving away from IE and making the move to Firefox. IE7 allows for ul menus, which is great. I have had to use another css file like I did for IE6 now with IE7. This is to override settings of the master css file when IE7 is detected (luckily no JavaScript is needed). It is done using "if IE 7" (there is also "if lt IE 6" or just "if IE"). I wish all the browsers allowed for simple code like this. However if they were all compliant you would not need to provide fixes (aka workarounds). The final problem is that when you resize the browser larger than 924px wide the menu moves up in IE7. Safari, Opera and Firefox don't do this. I tried fixing this but ended up only allowing max width of 924px. This is a simple fix for a non-compliant browser.

Update from March 2012. Firstly I've added more content as new browsers have come along. The latest browsers today are Firefox 11, Opera 11, Safari 5, Chrome 17 and Internet Explorer 10. Out of all these browsers, Safari requires the most tweaks to keep the website visibly acceptable. The other browsers required a couple of changes and this is a major improvement in the last 3 years. Now I'm focusing on keeping these new browsers compatible with the website. If you are using an older browser, please let me know if there are any visual problems with the website. With a number of people using the internet on a phone or tablet computer, I've added Opera Mini 6.5 to the list of supported browsers. I can only support iphones if someone buys me one, but until then, use a computer. Android users, there is a default browser on Android up to 4 so use Opera as it's much better and works with the website.