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Why support older browsers?

zellwk profile image Zell Liew ๐Ÿค— Originally published at zellwk.com ใƒปUpdated on ใƒป3 min read

Why you have to care about old browsers?

Who use old browsers? Probably, users with old computers?

If they use old computers, they probably don't have money to buy a new one.

If they don't have money to buy a new computer, they probably will not buy anything from you as well.

If they will not buy anything from you, why you have to care about supporting their browsers?

To a business person, that's a perfectly reasonable train of thought. But why do we developers still insist on supporting older browsers?

Let's break it down

There are so many layers of assumptions on the original thought process.

"Who use old browsers? Probably, users with old computers? If they use old computers, they probably don't have money to buy a new one".

While it's true that people use old browsers because they old computers, we cannot assume that people cannot afford to buy new ones.

  • Maybe their company doesn't want to buy them one.
  • Maybe they're happy with their computer, and they don't want to upgrade.
  • Maybe they don't have the knowledge to upgrade their computers.
  • Maybe they don't have access to new computers
  • Maybe they're bound to mobile phones that don't have good browsers

Don't assume.

If they don't have money to buy a new computer, they probably will not buy anything from you as well. If they will not buy anything from you, why you have to care about supporting their browsers?

We have to zoom out into other areas to talk about this point.

Wheelchair accessibility

If you've been around Singapore, you'll notice there's a ramp or an elevator next to (almost) every staircase.

But why? Why do the government and (even private corporations) spend money on elevators and ramps? Why build them when staircases are enough to bring people from a lower elevation to a higher one?

It turns out that some people aren't fortunate like us. They can't walk with their feet. They have to sit in wheelchairs, and they can't wheel themselves up a staircase. The elevators and ramps serve these people.

And it turns out that more people benefit from elevators and ramps.

  1. People who have weaker knees
  2. People who have a bicycle or scooter with them
  3. Parents who're pushing a baby trolley

If you find yourself pushing anything with wheels, you'll use the ramp or elevator without thinking twice. You benefit too.

But the problem is: Nobody earns a single cent from operating the ramps or the elevators? So why build them?

Because it's worth it.

And worth doesn't always meanm money.

Consider global warming

You live on Earth. What do you feel about global warming?

Some people don't care. It's okay if forests get burned. It's okay if companies pollute rivers and release tonnes of carbon dioxide into the air. It doesn't affect them.

But there's a group of people that care. They love the planet we're living on. They want to give their children a better place to live in. There are lots of reasons why they care.

Where do you stand?

Would you give money to a company that destroys the Earth while it operates?

Maybe you will. Maybe you won't. Maybe you don't care. All three options are valid.

And once again, you see, it's not always about the money.

The web is for everyone

The dream behind the Web is of a common information space in which we communicate by sharing information.
โ€” Tim Berners-Lee

We frontend developers are the custodians of the web. How the web turns out is up to us. We can't force everyone to build ramps and elevators, but we can make sure we build them ourselves.

The choice is up to you, really.

You don't have to care if you don't want to.

Most good frontend developers I know? They care. They choose to be inclusive. It's what makes us frontend developers.

We care.

But sometimes we also have constraints and limits. And we work with those limits.

Other articles in this series

  1. Part 1: Supporting older browsers
  2. Part 2: Supporting older browsersโ€”Part 2: CSS
  3. Part 3: Supporting older browsersโ€”Part 3: JS
  4. Part 4: This article

Thanks for reading. This article was originally posted on my blog. Sign up for my newsletter if you want more articles to help you become a better frontend developer.

Discussion (15)

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equinusocio profile image
Mattia Astorino • Edited

If my userbase don't use old browsers i will never support them. Old browsers are deprecated, obsolete, not secure. It's like voting against digital security and privacy. Would you use an old toaster that can cause a fire? would you use an old vehicle from 1800 to drive on today highways? As developers we must care to provide the better and secure experience to all our users

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ondrejs profile image
Ondrej

Best thing ever:
Ping from time to time your competitor's webpages with IE6 VM/UserAgent. Keep them on their toes!

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allanjeremy profile image
Allan N Jeremy

๐Ÿ˜‚ genius

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ondrejs profile image
Ondrej • Edited

Hey, I was just joking, do not do it please, it would deserve capital punishment :D

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allanjeremy profile image
Allan N Jeremy • Edited

๐Ÿ˜‚๐Ÿ˜‚๐Ÿ˜‚ I know you were. Still troll gold

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elmuerte profile image
Michiel Hendriks • Edited

I don't think that's a really ethical/nice thing to do.

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bennypowers profile image
Benny Powers ๐Ÿ‡ฎ๐Ÿ‡ฑ๐Ÿ‡จ๐Ÿ‡ฆ • Edited

People on older computers can download and install Mozilla or Chrome, and it's our responsibility as developers to make that process easy for them.

Here are the system requirements for FF62, a modern, module-loading, CSS-grid rendering, security-vulnerability-patching browser:

Pentium 4 or newer processor that supports SSE2
512MB of RAM / 2GB of RAM for the 64-bit version
200MB of hard drive space

And here are the requirements for Chrome on Windows

Windows 7, Windows 8, Windows 8.1, Windows 10 or later
An Intel Pentium 4 processor or later that's SSE2 capable

Older browsers are unsupported and insecure. Supporting older browsers doesn't help users, it hurts them.

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danhhristov profile image
danhhristov

"Why support older browsers?" ... "Consider global warming"...
Am I the only one who is lost here? How are those two things even closely related... if anything... when trying to support older browsers you go out of your way and work more than usual which causes the use of more electricity and other resources which should actually be bad for global warming? no?
Also I have not met a single person with such train of thoughts about why people use old browsers...
I agree that the web is for everyone but I also agree with Mattia Astorino that there is a reason for mostly supporting newer browsers.

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rodeone2 profile image
robin deatherage

Very good insight in your post. My thought with the whole Internet mess is preserving a means to which we have an escape for if and when the Corporations may take away our freedom for their own Proprietary Software.

After all it is Java and Microsoft who are only allowed to view the inner workings of both WebKit/WebView and IE/Edge's Widget Toolkit Libraries. And interesting enough not even Google Chrome or Chromium can see the inner workings of WebKit's highly customized NCSA Mosaic Canvas GUI Widget Toolkit underneath.

They all only have access to the API Name Spaces and their method names and are using JavaScript to capture all hyperlinks before passing them into the Webkit Rendering Engine to gain control.

Now even with all this knowledge it is my estimate that Web-Assembly will not help the freedom situation at all. And why we need to develop other Web Rendering Engines or a Means to ensure that freedom. Thanks!

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toppledwagon profile image
David

"But the problem is: Nobody earns a single cent from operating the ramps or the elevators? So why build them?" Wouldn't the question really be: why build stairs?

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awwsmm profile image
Andrew (he/him)

Just a heads-up, none of your links work ๐Ÿ˜ฌ

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equinusocio profile image
Mattia Astorino

You must use IE 8 to see them

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zellwk profile image
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zellwk profile image