I use Firefox as my main browser, both for development and for just regular… browsing. Increasingly, core functionality of websites breaks for me, as, presumably, not all developers test in Firefox anymore.
Testing your work in Firefox matters. Right? Well, it does to me, like testing in lots of browsers and assistive tech does. When I shared this on Twitter, realising a little late that this point is controversial, I saw some themes in the responses.
Some said Firefox should test with their websites. They do, actually… Mozilla hosts and sponsors the web compat community which helps debug sites that work in one browser and not another and feeds into improving those browsers. This is really hard and complex work, I remember from hanging out some of the people working on this when I was at Mozilla (the stories…). I recommend Mike Taylor's talk about web compat at View Source 2019.
Others signalled they found it too much work. For a large part of my career, front-end development was all about making stuff work across browsers, because they weren't as well aligned as they are today. I, for one, am so happy to be past the years of needing multiple VMs to test versions of Internet Explorer. With tools like Browserstack and Browsersync, we've come a long way.
Lastly, some said it's ‘not worth it’ given Firefox's marketshare. To be honest, I hadn't checked Firefox's market share before I tweeted and did not realise how small it is today 😢. The percentage is small.
I guess I can understand the idea that organisations prioritise browser support by browser market share. But shouldn't we want browser diversity and browser engine diversity? (This nuance is nicely explained in Brian Kardell's What is actually a web browser?).
Yes, some of the web's smartest and nicest minds work on Chrome and Chromium, I have see them do great work improving the web and prioritise (mostly) the right things over and over. Increasingly so now that the Edge people are also working on making Chromium better. I'm a fan of their work and most of the time Google push the web forward in ways it would simply not have without them. But, as Tim Kadlec mentions in a blog post, they don't always.
It's in everyone's interest to not give one company a near monopoly over what the web can do through their browser, or a handful of companies through their engine (Microsoft Edge, Samsung Internet, Brave and many others also use Chromium). Various people wrote about this when Edge announced they would use Chromium. “No single company, let alone a user-tracking advertising giant, should control the internet”, said Jeffrey Zeldman in Browser diversity starts with us. Competition is about growing, wrote Rachel Nabors, in a post where she compares the browser ecoystem with the world's ecosystem. Hurting engine diversity hurts the web, explains Andre Garzia.
In any case… I'm curious how thinking may have shifted over the last years. How do you think about browser testing in 2022?