Inside Foundant – the Blog

Why is your browser so important?

Whether you are on your favorite website or working with GLM, knowing which browser you are using is important. First, let me take a step back for those who might not know what a browser is. A browser is the program you use to access the internet and there are several different browsers to choose from. If your computer uses Windows, you are probably familiar with Internet Explorer, or IE. If you use a Mac (Apple) computer, you are probably more experienced with Safari. There are others out there, however. My personal favorite is Google’s Chrome browser, my wife is partial to Firefox. These other browsers can be downloaded from the internet and installed on your computer, for free, so you can use them to browse the web.

In some situations you might be using a work computer that is set up a specific way and you don’t get to choose which browser to use. If this is the case it is still important to know what version of the browser you are on. Browsers usually have different ways of telling us which version you are using, a great tool to find out this information can be found at www.whatbrowser.org. This will tell you what browser and version you are using as well as explain a little more about what exactly a browser is if you are curious.

Now, on to the reason why you should know which browser and version you are using. Each browser is built by a different development team and, while they have similar goals, they approach the development process in different ways. There is not a universally shared way of displaying the information on a web page. When you visit a website, the website gives your browser a list of things and tells the browser where it should put them. Sometimes, depending on how the web developers designed the website, the browser does not translate the instructions it was given in the way that you would expect them. Think of the website as the host of a party, they give a party planner (the browser) a list of all the things needed for the party and explains where everything should go. But sometimes, a host might say one thing and the party planner understands another. The end result is that, as the guest to the party, you end up confused because you are trying to eat soup with a fork.

We do our best to write specific sets of instructions for each of the browsers. That is a big part of our testing before most releases. Sometimes we miss something, which is why whenever you report seeing a bug, an error, or just something funny, we need to know the browser and version you are using. All this is so GLM can tell the different browsers where to put all of the different pieces of our software. Hopefully this helps explain why we are always asking, “What browser are you using?”.

It is also important to keep your browser(s) up to date with the latest versions, if you are able. Again, if you are unsure of the version of your browser, check out www.whatbrowser.org to find out. One more thing for those who are interested, chrome is currently the most common browser worldwide, check out the usage statistics at this site. http://www.w3schools.com/browsers/browsers_stats.asp.

-Nick Combs, Quality Assurance Engineer