October Newsletter

Welcome to the October 2011 18INT newsletter!

Which browsers to support/test your site on?

How do you decide which browsers to support or test on with your web sites? During the past year, global browser usage stats show Chrome doubling its share of the market, from just under 12% of users to just under 24%. Their gains seem to have come at the expense of Internet Explorer and Firefox, though each of those browsers are still used by more users than Chrome. Safari and Opera continue to hold steady with their small share of the market (under 6% and 2%, respectively.) Of course, there are current and older versions of each browser to consider, as users don’t all upgrade versions right away.

The gs.statcounter.com site is a good reference for checking browser usage stats in order to make an informed decision about where to spend your programming and quality control budgets. Using the menus under their default graph, you can view stats just for your target audience’s geographic area, and you can get information for particular browser versions.

One possible strategy is to adopt the same policy as Google apps, which chooses to support the current and previous versions of Internet Explorer, Firefox, Chrome, and Safari. This strategy would allow you to take advantage of new capabilities of the newest browsers, such as HTML5, without spending large amounts of time and money trying to create the same experience for users of out-of-date browsers. You can add a little JavaScript to detect browser version and provide a helpful message to users of old browsers, encouraging them to update their browsers.

You should decide which browsers to support early, while working on the requirements for your project. This will help programmers give accurate estimates for hours programming. Don’t wait until the project is built out to check pages on each browser–check templates before design work is propagated through multiple pages and changes are more expensive.

Facebook Apps Required to use OAuth 2.0 and HTTPS

As of October 1st, Facebook apps are required to support OAuth 2.0 authentication and HTTPS. If you have created Facebook applications that don’t support the secure connection, some code changes will be necessary for them to continue functioning. However, Facebook is rolling out this change gradually by first giving users a warning message when they click on your app, telling them that the app does not support secure browsing. This message will not be shown after the app is updated to meet the new security requirements.

As the deadline approached, we figured it would be armageddon or a non-event. Fortunately, it was the latter. Non-compliant apps continue to function. However, we can’t be sure for how long Facebook will be patient. They did offer some help on September 15th when they announced free hosting on Heroku. If you have the funds, the easy solution is to install a certificate on your domain and get SSL working. For independent developers, it may be better to move apps off of the canvas and switch to using Javascript-powered authentication.

Company News

We recently completed a redesign of the freexband.com site. The band leader needed to be able to update the site frequently with new photos and venue information without programming or paying a technical person. Leon linked his site to Facebook, so whenever the band guys post photos to their Facebook page, they appear on the web site automatically. News on the site will come from a twitter feed, which proved more convenient to the band members than linking the news to Facebook posts. We’re wishing the band the best of luck November 10th at the LA Music Awards.

Other recent work for 18INT has included documenting an extensive Javascript library for Hi5, a social gaming site. Having this documentation should save Hi5 time and money in the future as their developers add features to their site. As an author of books about PHP and MySQL, Leon has a great deal of experience writing how-to documentation for a technical audience.

We’ve also recently kicked off projects building the backend of a redesign for a Clorox Web site and building a new e-commerce site. More details will follow on these projects after they launch.

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Leon Atkinson

Eighteen Intelligence