Author: Robin Cox
While we chose to adopt the mantra: Any format. Any device. Any time. Anywhere; we have discovered approaching that goal is near impossible. We will however continue work, striving to achieve that level.
Factors that impact device selection
Let's take the browser for instance. We have all seen the condition where a specific web page loads acceptable [ "works on my PC" ] on our favorite viewing device, yet when we attempt to brag to our associates, we are amazed and perplexed that the web page appears different when viewed on someone elses monitor, laptop or mobile device. There are a host of reasons for this subtle and usually annoying difference. We'll take a look at the common and easily understood combinations.
Broken down by country, here is a sampling of the expanding list of harware manufacturers
Device list by country
We have all seen the comercials for the common and most widely accepted handhelds
Here is a list of 97 mobile phone manufacturers!!
Each of those produce either a specialty or a suite of similar categories of mobile devices.
- Mobile Phones
- Dual Sim Phones
- 3G Phones
and each of those phones requires software to function. There is the base IO firmware that is specific to the device that allows the processor to interact with the device switches, screen, camera, speaker and memory, and there is the browser that we view web content with.
Browser Wars - A nice chronological graphic over time
While we are familiar with the common browsers,
- Internet Explorer
there are also the micro-browsers that run on the mobile platform.
and, on and on, and growing every day.
- IE9 microbrower for Windows mobile and CE platforms
- FireFox 6 for Android 2.1
- Safari Current version 5.1 for Apple
- Android browser for G1
- Google's Chrome for Android 4.0 and later
- Silk is the native browser for the Amazon Kindle Fire
Myself, have had trouble keeping pace with the myriad of combinations.
Found this article at 51degrees, indicating their discovery of 16,805 combinations of physical mobile devices, operating systems and browsers are represented by 28,000 user agents.
You will now realize, that it is impossible to create a single app that will render identical output under all these combinations. It is also both cost in-effective and space prohibitive, not to mention the time required all encompassing to even consider testing on all these devices.
The introduction of HTML5, was supposed to be a panacea to solve a developer's woe's. and, . . . as I have learned, is still in it's infancy.
We did however choose to head off in this direction, hoping that the future would bring patches and fixes that would be the least time consuming to put into practice using the same code we developed in early 2013. Only time will tell.
Here is every devloper's delima. Chose one device category and one OS/Browser combination, or attempt the everywhere mantra.
This isn't an excuse, but is the necessary evil a developer must come to grips with. After spending the countless hours resolving anomalies in their coding attempts, one then must deploy to the real world and then resolve those headaches. Hours of additional clean-up are then required as there are always those 'gotchas' that mysteriously appear. Then, how does one test for all those combinations? It would take an army of testers with different devices and application software combinations, with the anticipation of performing a miracle before release. Even the largest companies are unable to cope. Take Windows update. Constantly providing security patches for the unseen and unforseeable situations. It seems to be a release early and patch often mindset nowdays. We are faced with this same situation. For the near future, we'll stick with tablet and laptop devices along with desktop PCs.
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