Major Cross-browser Compatibility Issues Faced by the Developers
Cross-browser compatibility is a critical aspect that needs special attention of the developers because of the different working mechanisms of various browsers available.
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The software market is constantly growing, and so are the browsers and devices. Customers are no more naive in choosing the best websites to fulfill their needs. So, it becomes necessary for the business to offer them the best user experience and services. There are so many browsers that come with new versions from time to time, making it difficult for the developers to deal with the cross-browser compatibility issues.
Cross-browser compatibility is the most critical aspect that needs special attention of the developers and has always been challenging to handle because of the different working mechanisms of various browsers available. It becomes even more complicated when it involves different device-operating system combinations. So finding how to solve cross-browser compatibility issues is a high priority job of the developers and critically important to the business.
What Is Cross-browser Compatibility?
In simple terms, cross-browser compatibility is the ability of web applications to function consistently on all types of Browser-OS-Device combinations in terms of how they look and behave across as many platforms as possible. As more and more devices, operating systems, and browsers are introduced in the ecosystem, supporting them is quite a challenge for front-end developers. Different users have different browser preferences, and the business cannot force them to switch to another browser type.
So, it is important to check your website compatibility even across old legacy browsers. But how can we achieve all of this? It is by focusing on correcting the main cross-browser compatibility issues faced by the developers. As we progress in this article, we will be able to answer the question as to what are cross-browser compatibility issues and solutions.
Let’s dig deeper into some key challenges that cause browser compatibility issues for developers. Here we go!
One of the most important aspects that cause cross-browser compatibility issues and makes it challenging for the developers to handle is the CSS. Managing CSS is quite complex and unorganized. CSS poses challenges not only for web developers but also for those who develop browsers. With the help of emerging cross-browser strategies and testing tools, compatibility issues can be tackled easily. There is a common notion among the developers that developers want to focus more on the logical aspects of web development rather than the product. Google studied the most common cross-browser compatibility issues in its most popular sub-branches, such as CSS Flexbox, CSS Position Sticky, Grids, aspect ratio, and CSS transforms.
Google, in collaboration with Microsoft, Igalia, and Mozilla has been trying to fix these compatibility issues under the compatibility 2021 project, also called COMPAT2021. Microsoft has taken charge of ameliorating CSS Grids and sub-grids in Chromium and intends to qualify all grid tests.
Issues with Old Browsers
Legacy browsers like Internet Explorer are outdated and do not support the latest technologies. Even the older versions of other browsers like Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome, etc., are covered under the old browser category. Technology is constantly evolving, so the CSS has to change with this evolution. But it is easier said than done. It is impossible to implement the CSS updates wholly because, even today, many users use Internet Explorer as their preferred browser.
Browsers keep releasing new updated features, but not all users use the updated browser version of their preferred browser. So, these issues need to be tested to avoid browser compatibility issues across all browsers and browser versions for a better user experience.
Internet Explorer is Obsolete
There was a time when Internet Explorer (IE) dominated the market. However, with rapid growth in technology, Internet Explorer has become obsolete and does not support features that other browsers do. In the year 2021, Internet Explorer has become a consistent problem for the developers and also a top reason for causing cross-browser compatibility issues, as some users still browse the internet on IE. Here is a chart showing the most troublesome browser by the developers (as per MDN Browser Compatibility Report 2020). Source: MDN Survey 2020.
It does not offer multi-class support, the Form layout design is not great and it is also not updated with most of the new properties available elsewhere. Even though Internet Explorer supports CSS Flexbox, it still does not completely solve the problem. It is reported that there will be no support provided for IE 11 desktop from 2022 and beyond for some Windows 10 versions. The IE Mode on MS Edge will be used for accessing and testing IE.
People cannot leave Internet Explorer easily because it has a history. It all started with IE. Internet Explorer was a huge success and, so are its contributions in the past. Many applications on health, accounting, inventory, etc., were built on Internet explorer. Even today, many businesses use IE because switching to modern browsers is expensive. Considering all of the above reasons, developers should understand that IE cannot be ignored, at least currently, and ensure that cross-browser compatibility issues are tested on Internet Explorer on priority as well.
– Aligning ECMAScript versions for different browsers
– ECMAScript6 version is supported but only by using Polyfills.
– Code bloat caused using compiler
– JS Contains multiple modules and packages that slow down the app speed
Layout and Styling Compatibility
A majority of developers are struggling with styling and layout issues. Any business would demand a well-designed responsive website. But considering different browsers, platforms, and devices, this becomes unachievable. Achieving long-lasting layout compatibility across various browsers using CSS Flexbox and CSS Grid is not easy. Dynamic websites with responsive design and layouts always have issues like scrolling and viewport sizes support which causes serious cross-browser compatibility issues for developers. MDN Browser Compatibility Report 2020 mentions layout and design features that cause cross-browser compatibility issues. Source: MDN Survey 2020
Progressive Web Applications Compatibility Issues
Progressive Web Apps are non-native apps that do not have features of a native web app. It cannot take advantage of native functions of the device like accessing camera or file, etc. Managing PWAs has become a pain point for the developers. Google, however, always supports PWAs’ future and provides a list of APIs for PWA development. The PWAs are supported by masked icons but need to carry fixed icons and a personal web app manifest to the browser. Hence, browser compatibility is of utmost importance, even in the case of progressive web apps. Although it is undoubtedly the most disliked task to frequently change the icon images, it can’t be ignored.
Issues During Browser Rendering
Sometimes, some elements work on one browser but not on the other. These rendering issues cause problems in cross-browser compatibility issues. Every browser engine works uniquely while rendering web pages and those browser engines are responsible for everything we see and use on the browsers. Due to this, the font size and image ratios become abrupt, causing inconsistency in page rendering. Testing websites on so many browsers and their versions seem impossible unless you rely on cloud testing platforms to make cross-browser testing easier.
Late Adoption of New Updates
Developers keep releasing new features but they are not embraced by browsers immediately. This delay causes many other hurdles in implementation, causing severe cross-browser compatibility issues. Whenever there is a delay in the adoption of new features, the lag impacts the quality of the website. CSS Subgrids supported by Mozilla Firefox help to solve the front-end and design problems of the developers. CSS Subgrids is a new CSS feature to build nested grids. There is a grid inside of another grid that helps front-end developers in solving many predictable compatibility issues.
CSS Flexbox Issues
Another main reason for causing cross-browser compatibility issues is CSS Flexbox. As mentioned earlier in this article, CSS Flexbox is covered under the Compat21 project showcasing the problems that impact browser compatibility. Flexbox creates design and layout issues that have been considered the most browser-critical compatibility challenge for developers. Flexbox gives structure to the content of the web page. More than 70 % of the pages contain CSS Flexbox in their source code. CSS Flexbox consists of a list of properties that all browsers do not support currently.
Issues Due to Polyfills
It is a piece of code (JS code) used for providing modern browser functionalities to the older browsers that do not natively support them. Polyfills are important to developers because sometimes, many features fail across browsers. So, to cope with that situation, polyfills are used. Why are the developers scared to deal with this messy business of compatibility? It is because thinking about how to solve cross-browser compatibility issues is a developer’s job.
They can’t get away with cleaning up the mess and keeping the website consistent across different platforms. Polyfills are considered an extra burden for the developers, so they are disliked by the developers, especially in the case of the older browsers. Polyfill is the most current compatibility pain point of 2021.
Cross-browser compatibility is a critical aspect on which your website’s user experience depends. Dealing with such issues becomes a nightmare for the developers most of the time. No matter how hard you try to avoid, they will prevail because bugs and development go hand in hand; and developers have no option but to find ways to solve them.
Published at DZone with permission of Priyanka Charak. See the original article here.
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