Those darn compatibility problems…

Compatibility issues, especially minor "imperfections", are well known to users of alternative browsers, and this is a source of frustration to many users.

These problems can be caused by many things: Browser sniffing used to only send content to certain browser and ignoring others, browser sniffing to simply block certain browsers, differences in the way browsers handle certain things, or simply a bug in the browser… Both Hallvord and David (our Web Opener) deal with these types of issues in their blogs.

The question about who is to blame for these problems is frequently debated in the forums. Some say that it's up to the browser vendor to work with the real Web. Others say that sites should follow the standards, and that it's not up to the browser to correct other people's mistakes.

Both of these arguments have merit. Indeed, Opera strives to handle the real Web, and a lot of effort has been put into handling real sites and the way they are coded through the years. At the same time, Opera Software believes in the importance of open standards, and there is also constant work going on to improve standards support.

But dealing with the real Web isn't always that easy, especially if sites don't bother to test in your browser. To illustrate this problem, let me post a screenshot of an imcompatibility I found only minutes after taking the latest version of a competing browser for a test drive:

I was browsing around, and came across an interesting story on a new camera from Canon (Norwegian text). I quickly noticed that something wasn't quite right, you can see from the screenshot. Opera, however, seemed to handle it just fine.

When even Microsoft's own browser has to deal with these problems, imagine the obstacles alternative browser makers are constantly facing. That is not to say that one should stop working on compatibility, but this might put things in perspective for those who think all compatibility issues can be fixed just like that.

These are complex issues that often require a lot of analysis, and fixing one thing might break another. However, we do have dedicated people analyzing sites and finding problems, and you can actually help us improve by posting about sites you are having problems with in the forums, or by reporting them through our bug tracking system.

It would be ironic, of course, if the site was fixed to work in IE7, and somehow ended up being broken in Opera… :doh:


2 thoughts on “Those darn compatibility problems…

  1. I imagine how hard to fix issues with popular "always in beta" sites that change their code continuously and their developers don't want to test code in some browsers nor write strandard code. :worried:This popular beta services just a pain in the ass! :insane:

  2. That is indeed a good point. Not only does one have to work with current sites, but sites change all the time as well. If the Web had been static and the code used on sites never changed, it would have been a lot easier to maintain compatibility.

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