Tuesday, December 30th, 2008

New Years Resolution: File a browser bug?

Category: Browsers, Testing

<>p>John Resig has laid out his thoughts on a Web Developer’s Responsibility, and it comes down to working with various up and coming browser versions and filing bugs:

It’s safe to say that the biggest tax on a web developer is spending so much time dealing with browser bugs and incompatibilities. Thus it has become the favorite past-time of all web developers to complain about having to deal with them. Browser bugs are annoying, frustrating, and make your job incredibly difficult.

Because browser bugs are so frustrating and such a burden on top of normal development it should be the responsibility of every web developer to make sure that the browsers they develop for are able to find and fix their bugs. By taking responsibility for the bugs that you find – and to not assume that “someone else will find it” – will accelerate the rate at which browsers can improve.

The solution to helping browsers is two-fold: 1) Every time you find a browser bug, file a bug report to the respective browser. 2) Actively test your sites in the latest builds of the major browsers.

The vast majority of web developers have never filed a bug report with a browser vendor – or even used a nightly version of a browser – which is a shame. If you think about it there are few who are more qualified to assess what is going wrong in a browser than those who spend every day developing for them.

I’m especially surprised when I see professional developers not filing bugs with browsers, or testing on nightlies. Since one of the primary tasks of most developers is to paper over cross-browser issues it becomes in their best interest to see the number of bugs reduced (and making their job dramatically simpler).

Now, instead of just saying “go do it”, John gives information on how to file a bug, where to go to do it, providing a good simple test case, and arguing for a bug.

He then shows examples of bugs that he has filed across browsers, and asks us all to wear them like badges.

So, got any badges? Been frustrated when filing a bug? What’s the weirdest bug you have ever seen (sorry, interview question there).

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Posted by Dion Almaer at 7:59 am
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I’ve been frustrated by filing bugs with the Opera browser, even providing clear HTML links that prove them as test cases, and getting NO response for months from them. I agree all devs should also be willing to track down and file bug reports, but the vendors have got to be willing to facilitate such behavior and not frustrate it. If I ran a browser project (hey, I might one day — i’ve got an idea and domain name!), I’d want all the input I could get.
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that having been said, I’ve also filed bugs with Chrome (which were promptly and curteously responded to and then addressed), and with FF/mozilla (which also got good response).

Comment by shadedecho — December 30, 2008

Great initiative, though considering where John works combined with the quality of their products compared to the “competition” (Chrome) makes it sound a little bit “desperate”…
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Still I truly hope that people respects and follows John’s suggestion and also that FireFox survives, though I must confess that I am not 100% confident in that my hopes will make it … :(
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Currently Chrome is *one* plugin away (FireBug) from becoming my permanent development browser…

Comment by ThomasHansen — December 30, 2008

I found what I thought was a bug in Internet Explorer. So I thought I would do the right thing and file a bug. Well try and find out how to submit bugs to Microsoft, after 2 hours of filling forms and searching I still couldn’t file it. IE 8 beta seemed easy(ish) to file for but good luck on existing products.

So I emailed the IE Blog and amazingly I got a response from an actual developer! Long story short. It’s not a bug it’s a feature, I still maintain that it’s a bug, but what can you do. The full writeup on it is available on stack overflow.

Comment by dgavey — December 30, 2008

I would hardly call it desperate. Its not like Mozilla was caught flat footed on this front. Chrome falls short on on Acid 3 (79/100 vs 93/100), Is debatably neck and neck with JIT, and has a weaker implementation of SVG.

Comment by TNO — December 30, 2008

@TNO – that doesn’t matter to non-developers.
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IE6 falls short in a ton of areas but people used it. Doesn’t matter what’s best, it matters what gets used. I prefer Firefox to Chrome, but Google has better means of pushing upgrades than Mozilla. For example, I can even install Chrome without admin rights at work which is a good affront to the fact that most people browse at work and don’t have rights to their machines and therefore use IE.

Comment by RobRobRob — December 30, 2008

@TNO
Regarding Acid tests I think it’s pretty obvious who’s got the “upper hand” in regards to standards. According to my knowledge WebKit (which Chrome builds on) are way ahead of Mozilla in regards to standards…
Effectively meaning Chrome is one “WebKit SVN update” away from completely destroying FireFox here…
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Though here I must also agree with RobRobRob since that doesn’t really “matter” as long as it’s “good enough” for “Average Joe”. Mozilla (FireFox) have here been very instable for me lately (on Acer TravelMate 6293 – Window Vista) lately to such an extend I can’t even use it on YouTube…
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Though how should I “file a bug” on this…?
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Imagine this;
“FireFox crashes sometimes when I watch YouTube and also doesn’t always shuts down the process when closed and always uses ten times the memory and time to open most websites compared to Chrome – PS! Using Windows Vista…”
How’s that for a “bug report”…?
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Anyway, I still hope Mozilla “makes it”, they were alone in all those years combating the “evil empire” all alone doing all the “dirty work” of Google and Co. So if I must “take a stand”, my hopes goes with John and his employer, even though we (me and John) insanely disagree on how to build great Ajax libraries … ;)

Comment by ThomasHansen — December 30, 2008

@RobRob:
I may be mistaken, but I don’t believe any other alternative browsers besides FireFox are currently working on integrating with GPO. IE has power over the Intranet world partially because it’s stupid simple for SysAdmins to control and push out. As for the Admin Rights, if you install the browser in My Documents or on a thumbdrive, you shouldn’t bump into the issue with privileges.
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@Thomas:
In regards to standards, unless we start throwing test suites and stats at each other, I have no doubt this would fall into a very long debate (and no doubt fruitless).
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If you are having issues with Firefox on your machine, and a re-installation under a new browser profile doesn’t help then do indeed file a bug if there isn’t one already. There is an about:crashes option available you can reference when you report
Ex:
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“I’m using FireFox version x, I have the following add-ons installed …, when I go to this url the browser explodes. The Report ID is xxxxxx-xxxxxx, I think it occurs only when I stand on my head and pound on the keyboard with my big toe”

Comment by TNO — December 30, 2008

@TNO
Hahaha…!! ;)
(Toe comment … ;) )

Comment by ThomasHansen — December 30, 2008

Generic comment about my browser of choice…

Right, nuff said there, I think that this is an excellent idea, and I for one shall try and submit a browser bug-report (I do enough for sites and software, so no biggie!)

Comment by oopstudios — December 30, 2008

Opera is hiding with its bug reports, so you can’t track even your own filled bugs. You don’t know if they got it, you don’t know if they see it as a bug, you don’t know if they will fix it.. yeah – you don’t fu**ing know anything.
I stopped filling bugs to them, cause it seems like they could care less, so why shouldn’t I? Something doesn’t work with my W3C code? I recommend switching to FF.

ps. Opera is my primary browser.

Comment by paziek — December 31, 2008

*couldn’t care less
edit feature for comments would be nice :)

Comment by paziek — December 31, 2008

I’ve filled out lots of bug reports for various browsers. There is little point, as even if a bug is eventually acknowledged and fixed, you’ve still got to work around the problem or not support that browser. So workarounds tend to live forever. My new favorite bug is Webkit’s limit of 200 SVG elements to a page.

Comment by JonathanLeech — January 2, 2009

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