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I’ve recently completed building a new site for the BBC, this time a project pretty much entirely in HTML. As you’d probably expect, the BBC are pretty hot on maintaining a wide foundation of web standards and providing a high level of accessible content, two approaches I’d say I’m a keen practitioner of.

I truly believe that there is zero excuse for slapping ‘this page is best viewed with [browser name] in [screen dimension]’ on any website, unless it is specifically designed otherwise – and especially if it’s text and image content only – when it’s really so straightforward to adhere to some basic standards which, with almost an exponential effect, can improve the way your content is delivered, cross-browser, cross-platform. That kind of disclaimer is just a cop out, plus Tim agrees – and he’s the man.

A part of that development process is to determine, amongst things, which browsers on what device or platform are the priority. In turn, getting hold of these browsers readily for testing and ideally, available frequently for an agile development. Not leaving testing until a stage where any damage might be irreparable because of time constraints and deadlines, or viewing testing time as an easily squeezable phase, first to suffer when scope is altered.

The BBC have outlined such requirements, they have very in depth guidelines publicly available on their site. The following table defines the ‘levels’ of browser support that all projects must comply with:

BBC Browser Support 

Abbreviated definitions:

Level 1:

  • All content and functionality must work, minimised variations to presentation, fully-styled, maximise user experience.

Level 2:

  • Core content must be readable, usable and navigable, any degradation to must be graceful, no content must be obscured.

Level 3:

  • No support or testing necessary. 


Read the full support documentation.

What can be really tricky sometimes though, is getting hold of the all those browsers and platforms to test with. There’s various ways of reconfiguring application and registry settings to install multiple versions of browsers, but the following method is how I installed and concurrently ran multiple instances and versions of Firefox on Windows XP.

Firstly, Firefox 3 (current version, 3.0.4) is readily available from Mozilla, as are previous releases of Firefox 2. Firefox 1.5 though is slightly harder to find. Along with a strong recommendation not use them, you can get other releases from the FTP archive going back to v0.10!

With each set-up, select Custom Installation, giving each version a different installation folder, so something like:

C:\Program Files\Mozilla Firefox 1.5
C:\Program Files\Mozilla Firefox 2.0
C:\Program Files\Mozilla Firefox 3.0

Be sure to uncheck the option to run Firefox when you click Finish, this bypasses writing some default system settings.

Then you’ll need to create a seperate Firefox profile for each version of the browser you’ll be running. Open the profile manager from Start > Run:

“C:\Program Files\Mozilla Firefox 2.0\firefox.exe” -ProfileManager

It doesn’t matter which you choose. Create three new profiles, I named mine ‘Firefox 1.5’, ‘Firefox 2.0’ and ‘Firefox 3.0’ to keep it obvious.

Then I created three .bat files in Notepad, these function as shortcuts to the different versions, as follows:

Firefox 1.5:

start “” “C:\Program Files\Mozilla Firefox 1.5\firefox.exe” -P “Firefox 1.5”

Firefox 2.0:

start “” “C:\Program Files\Mozilla Firefox 2.0\firefox.exe” -P “Firefox 2.0”

Firefox 3.0:

start “” “C:\Program Files\Mozilla Firefox 1.5\firefox.exe” -P “Firefox 3.0”

Obviously change the path and profile names if you don’t use the same as mine, open those up et voila!

Running multiple versions of Firefox

Click to enlarge [via].


2 Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. By Weapon of Choice « Marc Hibbins on 19 Nov 2008 at 10:53 pm

    […] Marc Hibbins Interactive Media Design & Development AboutSemantic Web « Version […]

  2. By Future Reflections « Marc Hibbins on 08 Dec 2008 at 10:55 pm

    […] screen grabbing (as I currently do) if you play to the pixel. This makes my browser testing posts (1, 2) completely useless, […]

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