One of the things about the net that I love and hate is the development of freedom of expression. Don’t get me wrong, I’m a socialist at heart, and I love the fact that people can say what they want, how the want, in the USA. Well, mostly. Illegality being what it is.
But I digress!
The Browser Wars ended with a weird stalemate, and it wasn’t by choice of the users. The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) and their modifications of what was and was not okay in the Web (yes, there are guidelines to web design) managed to reward early adopters for things like HTML 2 and XHTML. They, without ever enforcing rules, and without ever making a browser of their own, managed to finagle enough ‘power’ such that website developers wanted to proudly display their compatibility. No longer did we create sites like ‘Best viewed on IE’, but we aimed for these standards, and coerced our websites to look ‘Okay’ on IE and Firefox, Windows XP and Mac OS X.
But unless you have three computers with multiple boot sectors and multiple browser versions, either physically or virtually, how do you know what your site looks like?
My personal website I know is ‘okay’ on most browsers. It looks perfect, just as I want, on OS X in Safari and Firefox. It looks good on Windows in Firefox. And then there’s IE. I hate it. I hate it. It’s not safe, it ignores the W3C, and it just doesn’t do what I think it should. Browse Happy is a site dedicated to reminding people about the alternatives. Like Firefox, yes, which is my Windows XP browser of choice. But I can’t just ignore IE, even if I hate it. Oh, I ignore IE 6 and older, but 7 and 8 I need to pay attention to. So what do I do?
I hit up sites like BrowserShots, where they will go and snag a screenshot of what my site looks like in a freakishly vast array of browser/OS combinations. It’s not perfect, sometimes it hits weird errors where things I know look fine suddenly don’t. But if you want a quick shot to see what CSS stupidity certain browsers entertain, well, it’s good and free.