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TAMU Webmaster's Blog

Information and insight from the A&M Webmasters

Browsers and Plug ins

June 12th, 2007 by tamuwebmaster

These recommendations are intended to help the campus community optimize their experience with University web sites and make informed decisions about the many available browsers.

Preferred Standards Compliant Browsers

First and foremost, a Web experience ought to be consistent across browsers. Designing to the needs on one particular browser is bad development practice.  However, looking over browser statistics for the university and by looking over what’s supported and secure, we can make recommendations toward browser sets and versions. The preferred version will always be the latest version of the browser, but as long as there is vendor support for a version of their product, it still must be taken into consideration and testing during development of a site.

There is no requirement, though, that Web pages be presented identically on different browsers or versions of a browser. Developers are urged to test across older versions and gracefully degrade their sites such that content is still visible and usable even if the display is not the same.

For current usage statistics by browser, you can visit the CIS Network Services Statistics pages.

In some rare cases, a Web application may not support all of the recommended browsers because of certain application requirements or browser/version-specific issues. In that case, developers should clearly inform users regarding the application.Preferred standards-compliant browsers support the following standards:

  • JavaScript 1.4 or higher (ECMAScript)
  • HTML 4.01
  • SSL 3.0
  • Cookies
  • Cascading Style Sheets
  • HTTP 1.1
  • the Document Object Model (DOM)
  • XHTML 1.0

Text-mode Web Browser

A text-based browser is important because it gives developers a better view of how their information will be rendered in other environments, including adaptive technologies for disabled users, browsers running on older computers or rendering on mobile devices.

If you are unable or do not wish to run one of the preferred browsers, be aware that some campus Web sites may lack the intended appearance or functionality with non-standards compliant browsers or earlier versions of these browsers.

Browser Plug-Ins

In addition to the browsers listed above, users should also have the following plug-ins installed in order to use the Web most effectively (remembering,  however, that sites should never require users to have the latest version installed in order to view and use the site):

  • Acrobat Reader – for viewing PDF files (download Reader)
  • Macromedia Flash 7 (or higher) – for viewing Macromedia Flash animation, applications and video (download Flash)
  • Quicktime – for viewing Quicktime audio and video files (download Quicktime)
Tuesday, June 12th, 2007 Browsers/Plug-ins, Style Guide
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