Previewing across platforms?
February 24, 2006 11:00 AM   Subscribe

Knowing Explorer is no longer being upgraded for macs, how can I best assure browser compatibility across platforms (from a previewing standpoint)?

I was over a friends and noticed a website I had done (in Dreamweaver mx) looked a bit funky. I had previewed it in three browsers on my mac (os 10.3.9) but the same browser (explorer) in a PC (xp) reacted a bit differently. Nothing major; mainly not reading prefs I set for a table correctly but now it has me wondering how I can preview my sites across platforms and browsers. Right now, I don't have the scratch for PC and was curious if there were other ways to ensure compatability.
posted by j.p. Hung to Computers & Internet (11 answers total)
I don't know how useful it would be for as-you-go development work, but Browsercam is pretty great.
posted by mikel at 11:12 AM on February 24, 2006

Knowing Explorer is no longer being upgraded for macs

This doesn't change the situation at all. IE/Mac has always been a completely different code base from IE/Windows, with its own set of rendering quirks. (Which you've already noticed -- your site looked fine in IE/Mac but wrong in IE/Windows.)
posted by xil at 11:29 AM on February 24, 2006

Best answer: cheapest route: Qemu emulating a PC, then install Linux/FreeBSD/etc. on it and get WINE configured and set up. then use WineTools to get the basic Windows enviroment set up in WINE and just use IE 6. this works very well on my actual PC, but it's actually a fast computer. it will be dog slow but usable on the Mac. for bonus points, use Apple's X11 server and have WINE talk to it, so your IE6/Windows apps share the same desktop as your actual computer. (might speed it up a bit too, in fact.)

next cheapest route: eBay a computer, do everything in step 1 minus setting up Qemu. or, use Windows if the computer came with it or you have a license. you don't need a lot to run just IE, and you can probably get something for $50 or so that'll do the job. (heck, I could probably set up an old 466MHz Celeron or something for $25+shipping. or you may be able to craigslist one too - I know my machine's too slow for me to care about using, and there are a lot of machines like that floating around.)

next next cheapest route: Virtual PC. or, bargain basement new PC (like one of the Microtels Walmart sells or the cheapest Dimension you can get). to be honest, a real computer will cost you about the same as VPC with WinXP and it'd be a lot faster.

obvious and already discredited route: buy a decent PC.

(fwiw, having a seperate machine - virtual or not - can sometimes be a boon, especially if you're doing anything dynamic. set up the enviroment so that it's like your web hosts', make a backup, when you screw it up, restore the backup. not as much of a benefit for static work though.)
posted by mrg at 11:45 AM on February 24, 2006

1. Buy a cheap PC. Anything will do as long as it has XP Pro pre-installed (Pro is required for step 3).
2. Hook it to your network and hide it in a cupboard.
3. Download a copy of Microsoft Remote Desktop Connection (for Macs).
4. Preview sites in Windows Internet Explorer right on your Mac.
posted by cillit bang at 11:55 AM on February 24, 2006

" can I best assure browser compatibility across platforms?"

Code for Firefox or any of the Mozilla-based browsers. If Windows/IE users complain tell them to download Firefox or to email Microsoft and let them know their browser is not standards-compliant.
posted by camworld at 11:55 AM on February 24, 2006

Response by poster: thanks everyone...l appreciate the input!
posted by j.p. Hung at 1:04 PM on February 24, 2006

Position is Everything is a good resource for working around issues with Internet Explorer for Windows.

There are also differences between how Internet Explorer 5.5 and 6 display things (and probably 7, which is coming soon). You can install multiple versions of Explorer.
posted by kirkaracha at 1:08 PM on February 24, 2006

" can I best assure browser compatibility across platforms?"

A little more practically/realistically, code for Firefox/Mozilla/Gecko, and then add hacks to accomodate IE, not the other way around. I recall a good "best practices" article related to this theme, but I a quick google did not locate it.

Or, some ways to avoid cross-browser hacks entirely.
posted by misterbrandt at 1:13 PM on February 24, 2006

Write valid code first, add hacks second. You are not per se coding for “browser compatibility”; you are not writing for individual browsers in the first instance. That’s 1997-era thinking.
posted by joeclark at 4:54 PM on February 24, 2006

Check out /IE7/, which is a JavaScript that makes MSIE more compliant with CSS standards.
posted by Sharcho at 11:23 PM on February 24, 2006

This article by Roger Johannson ("Writing cross-browser CSS") is a nice summary of the issues and best practices. (And was written in response to "Cross-browser strategies for CSS")

And (of course) what joeclark said.
posted by misterbrandt at 12:57 PM on March 7, 2006

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