Browser Checker

Mark Wescott wrote to a Blackboard Learn 9 list,

Imagine a world where Bb Inc. provides browser checkers for each Rev/SP combo, and all we (aka “The Customers”) have to do is place a link on our Bb logon page to the browser checker that matches our production environment…. mmmm serenity.

Said browser checkers would:

  • be GREAT customer service; EVERY institution that uses Bb would benefit
  • be relatively simple for Bb Inc’s staff to create
  • be branded with Bb’s logos and marketing
  • be up to date
  • be released commensurately with each SP
  • have a static, publicly available URL
  • be found on the Course Sites logon page
  • eliminate a topic that appears about every 6 months on this board

Sadly, we Blackboard Vista clients have Mark’s “imagine a world”. Yet still the topic appears in our email lists every time a new web browser or version of Vista was released. Why?

  • Telling a user their web browser may have problems is not a deterrent. Their (correct) opinion is Blackboard should fix the product so the browser they use every day will work. Students and instructors should not have to become a computer geek to take or teach a class.
  • Blackboard only checks a small amount of browser and operating system combinations, so potentially fine web browsers were marked “not tested”. Blackboard has better things to do than test the long tail of browsers. So users have stopped trusting the browser checker because untested browsers often do work. The browser checker has cried “Wolf!” too many times for people to believe it.
  • The browser checker is not consistent with the official supported browser list. Oh, and that is intentional. Browsers which used to work are nor removed from the list unless clients make a stink about them not working. Blackboard stopped testing them, so they are clueless whether it continues to work, but users are not alerted to the problems.

Imagine a world where Blackboard products work in every web browser because it does not reply on coding for specific browsers. You know… Web Standards.

 

Browser Checker Inconsistent With Bb Wiki

The below text is from a ticket I opened with Blackboard this morning.

I used this unix command to dump a list of all supported browsers from the browserchecker.xml.

grep -A 1 ‘supported=”true”‘ serverconfs/browserchecker.xml | grep descript | awk -F\> ‘{print $2}’ | awk -F\< ‘{print $1}’

The list of supported browsers does not match the list of supported browsers at Supported Technologies Vista 8.0 SP4+Re-Release which means users of unsupported browsers are not getting alerted to the fact they are using an unsupported browser.

This specifically arose because I’ve been depending on the wiki to describe which browsers are supported in my work for [ticket number]. Several recent cases I’ve reviewed were IE7 which the wiki says is unsupported on Vista 8.0.4. The browser checker says it is supported.

Here is the full list of supported browsers according to the browserchecker.xml file. Those in bold are supported according to the supported technologies wiki entry in the above link. By my count that is 6 supported out of the 22 listed. (Actually it is 46 listed but I consolidated those in the same version.) My favorite on the list is Netscape Navigator 5 which was never actually released for the general public.

Netscape Navigator 5.x

Netscape Navigator 7.x

Microsoft Internet Explorer 5.1 (Mac OS)

Microsoft Internet Explorer 5.2 (Mac OS)

Microsoft Internet Explorer 5.5

Microsoft Internet Explorer 6.0

Microsoft Internet Explorer 7.0 (only on Windows Vista)

Microsoft Internet Explorer 8.0

AOL Version 5.x(MAC)

AOL Version 9.x

AOL for Mac OS X

Safari Version 1.2

Safari Version 1.3.x

Safari Version 2.x

Safari Version 3.x

Safari Version 4.x

Mozilla Version 1.7

Firefox Version 1.0

Firefox Version 2.0

Firefox Version 3.0

Firefox Version 3.5

Firefox Version 3.6