The final version of COI’s browser testing guidelines have emerged, and it’s simply wonderful to see a shorter, tighter, more standards-centric document than the draft I reviewed back in September. In fact, looking down my bullet-list of specific recommended changes, all of them seem to have gone into the final document. Cool.
The revised document is based on the principle of a ‘testing matrix’, showing ‘must test’ and ‘should test’ for versions of each leading browser, on Windows, Mac and Linux. Effectively it’s a direct lift from the BBC’s Browser Support Standards document (which, for the record, I highlighted in my response). You’re advised to review your matrix at every major website redevelopment, or at least every two years; and to publish your matrix on your site, within a ‘help’ or ‘accessibility’ section.
It includes a forceful statement in support of web standards in the very first paragraph, backed up by a full page on the subject (paras 17-24). But the 2% rule remains: ‘Browsers used by 2% or more of your users must be tested, and any issues resolved’, as does the insistence that you support Mac and Linux even if they don’t reach the 2% threshold. (And thankfully, the contradictory references on this have been removed.) There’s even a proper section on mobile devices – although I’d probably have made specific reference to the iPhone / iPod Touch; sadly though, nothing about games consoles.
And – hooray! – there’s a black-and-white statement that things don’t have to be pixel-perfect, killing off the draft’s notion of ‘semi-supported’:
There may be minor differences in the way that the website is displayed. The intent is not that it should be pixel perfect across browsers, but that a user of a particular browser does not notice anything appears wrong.
Quite simply, the final version is just so much better than the original draft. It stands as a great example of the benefits of opening these things up to the wider community. Who’s this Obama fella anyway?