One of the hardest things for me to do when working with CSS is making sure that the designs work not only in the current browser version but in past browser versions also. I’d like to know what you guys think about how many past versions of a browser do you try to support for your CSS designs?
Well, according to Jacob Nielsen (love him or hate him lol), you should support the latest two versions of each client. (by the way – this isn’t first-hand knowledge – I heard it on a podcast or something, and not had time to research fully). If that were the case, then when IE8 becomes its full fledge version in the next couple of months, in theory we could justifiably stop supporting IE6!!! But the reality is that there’ll still be thousands of companies and educational institutions who won’t be upgrading to IE7 let alone IE8 anytime soon.
As for other browsers, those who use them tend to upgrade when a new version comes out. I don’t test my sites in Opera 8. Perhaps I should, but I assume (very dangerous thing to do, I know) that most Opera users will upgrade their browser. Even typing this, I’m thinking of changing my practice slightly to begin testing in these slightly older browsers, the two-version rule does seem a sensible one overall, but I think as far as IE goes, we’ll always have to have some support for the past 3 or even 4 versions.
I currently test in Safari 3, Opera9, Firefox 2 and 3, IE 6,7 and 8, Konqueror 3.5. Now I’m thinking I should look at earlier versions of both safari and Opera???? Hmmmmmm.
My testing regiment is pretty simple. I open the page up in FireFox 2, Safari 3, Opera 9, and IE 6. Between these four, I figure I have my bases pretty much covered. I think I’ve been troubleshooting long enough that I can pretty much tell while I’m coding what little things might cause quirks and either stay away from that or code around it. Worst case scenario, site is a little borked in some weird browser and you need to go in and fix it. Usually not a big deal.
As Chris said, what I’ve found interesting is that over time though is that as I learn more about web design, the less tweaks I need to do in any other browsers, including IE. Most of the time is very minor changes here and there, but the designs seem to work “out of the box” lately. I think this is a sign of knowledge and experience improving…knowing as you code what tactics are going to work better than others.