Browser sniffing: How to embarass yourself

Next time I’m getting hardware, there’s a significant chance that it’ll be Apple hardware. So, I do check out OS X software.
What I won’t be getting when I get Apple hardware is “Delicious Library”: (found via Simon Willison’s Blogmarks) because I have made a “choice of browser”: that’s different from theirs.

And no, I’m not switching to any of the lesser capable browsers listed on your error page to investigate your product. What I _am_ doing, however, is checking, out of professional curiosity, why your site doesn’t work in Opera.
I found two possible explanations:
# You are clueless about web authoring. In which case I wouldn’t trust your software not to eat my kid, burn down the house or do anything particularily nasty to the contents of my hard drive. _Accessible web sites is not rocket science!_
# You are actively discriminating my browser. In which case I’m not buying from you. I don’t like having software choices made for me.
I noticed the big, flashy “Blog us” button in the web site footer. _You bet!_
*Update:* Delicious Library have, since posting this, started letting my browser in – something I’m so pleased with, I’m going to give them a big “Thumbs up!” instead.

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  1. Why are you surprised. It used to be Netscape/IE world, and now it;s going to be IE/Gecko world. What else has changed?
    They also *require* flash and yavaskript.
    Theirs is Yeti Design.

  2. Moose, did I say I was surprised? I’m just sick and tired with people making dumb assertions.

  3. Arve, I’m sick along with you. I hate Gmail for just the same reasons as you hate Delicious. Discrimination sucks, no matter what it’s based on.

  4. Asbjørn: I hate their infantile browser-sniffing, and subsequent blocking, not their product 🙂

  5. If all they’ve got is their product, you might as well hate it as well. :-p

  6. Quick note: I love the Opera hack article…very helpful and really a great help! Thanks
    On the browser sniffing at the site you mentioned. I did some tests and yea, Im totally with you…all the Javascript and/or other forms of sniffing and non-support for various browsers is very bad design and not good. Im with you in designing for all agents and supplying some form of accessible design.
    However, last time I checked, Opera users make up a very tiny minority of browser users, almost identical to Netscape 4 series users, according to the logs Ive seen. Sure, depends on who logs you are reading, but from what I see on average, its maybe 2.5% at best or less, and not getting any better (unlike Mozilla). No excuse for bad design, but for those on tight development budgets, until Opera itself develops a better (and ad free) product that supports correct CSS, I wont be using that browser period, nor will millions of other users. So, I have to take the side of Delicious.

  7. Mitchell: If you don’t need to exclude anyone, why do it? What logs tell you is a big lie anyways — Opera identifies itself as Internet Explorer by default. And so does a dozen of other not well-known browsers, spiders, etc.
    And to the CSS bit: Opera is one of the browsers on the planet that supports CSS best. So if you support Internet Explorer, it should be no problem supporting Opera on the basis of standard-compliance! Internet Explorer probably supports less than 30% of the stuff Opera supports, if you want figures.
    And to what you use and what you support: those aren’t coupled at all. If you just support standards, you support all browsers on the face of the earth, including all those «wierd» braille browsers, text-based browsers etc. Supporting all browsers is simple. Not doing it is stupid. Period.

  8. Mitchell: If you look through my archives, you will find my story on “When MSIE is not MSIE”: – in short: MSIE may be overrepresented by as much as one third in server logs, since, as Asbjørn says, Opera identifies itself as IE by default, and so does a number of robots.
    Opera has been “downloaded over eight million times”: from alone (outnumbering Mozilla and derivatives by a factor of four). Even looking at current download numbers, in the midst of the Firefox craze, Opera measures up nicely when you sum up the Java and non-Java downloads.
    Opera is also the leading web browser on mobile devices, and will be the standard web browser in the next incarnation of the Symbian OS.
    However, stats is beside the point: Opera’s rendering and JavaScript functionality is, in something like 99.3% of all cases equal to Firefox, and if you design with standards, there is no reason to take Opera into special consideration: It’ll just work. Unlike with MSIE or Netscape.