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flexmls Web Browser Compatibility

May 21, 2008 Michael Wurzer

In developing the flexmls® Web system, we work very hard to support as many browsers as we can by focusing on current industry standards for our development.  However, that doesn’t mean all the browser vendors have made that same commitment or that we are all interpreting the standards in the same way.    In fact, the entire area of standards development and compliance is often rife with debate.

The upshot of this debate is that there is not “one true standard” against which you can develop (oh, we only wish!) and magically have all browsers supported.  Instead, developing cross-browser support really is about what browsers you test against and the results of those tests. This topic recently came up on the NewARMLS blog, with a user commenting:

On the FlexMLS web site they state FlexMLS will work with Internet Explorer, Mozilla and Opera. One of my biggest complaints with Marketlinx is that it is ASP/VBScript based, which means many of teh “extended functions” of the MLS do not work on any platform other than MS Windows. For those wishing to use a Linux System running the Opera or Mozilla Web browsers, will we still be facing those types of limitations.

I then responded:

James, thanks for pointing out that we need to update our web site. The two currently supported browsers today for flexmls Web are Internet Explorer and Firefox.

Generally, in discussing browser compatibility, it’s important to distinguish between the development strategy toward cross-browser support and the testing and support strategy. FBS works very hard to develop all of our products toward open web standards. Accordingly, most every browser will work with flexmls Web.

However, we currently only test against Internet Explorer, Firefox and Safari. Because we know there are some functions, like the custom report writer, that do not work in Safari, we do not officially support Safari, but we do actively test all functionality against it as well as Firefox and Internet Explorer.

In contrast, we do not test against Opera or other browsers, because they do not have sufficient market share to warrant testing and compliance. This does not mean these other browsers won’t work. In fact, they may. We just don’t claim they do and if someone calls indicating that something doesn’t work in one of these other browsers, our recommended solution is to use a supported browser.

Incidentally, the issue of browser support is, thanks to Firefox, largely independent of the OS. The key is the browser. You can run pretty much any Linux distribution or Mac OS and use Firefox to access the flexmls Web system.

I’m hopeful this clarifies our strategy for developing flexmls Web to support as many browsers as possible in a practical way.