It used to be one of the biggest pains of web development. Juggling different browser versions and wasting endless hours coming up with workarounds and hacks. Thankfully, those troubles are now largely optional for many developers of the web.
Chrome ushered in a new era of the always updating browser and it’s been a monumental success. For Basecamp, just over 40% of our users are on Chrome and 97% of them are spread across three very recent versions: 16.0.912.75, 16.0.912.63, and 16.0.912.77. I doubt that many Chrome users even know what version they’re on — they just know that they’re always up to date.
Firefox has followed Chrome into the auto-updating world and only a small slice of users are still sitting on old versions. For Basecamp, a third of our users are on Firefox: 55% on version 9, 25% on version 8. The key trouble area is the 5% still sitting on version 3.6. But if you take 5% of a third, just over 1% of our users are on Firefox 3.6.
Safari is the third biggest browser for Basecamp with a 13% slice and nearly all of them are on some version of 534.x or 533.x. So that’s a pretty easy baseline as well.
Finally we have Internet Explorer: The favorite punching bag of web developers everywhere and for a very good reason. IE represents just 11% of our users on Basecamp, but the split across versions is large and depressing. 9% of our IE users are running IE7 — a browser that’s more than five years old! 54% are running IE8, which is about three years old. But at least 36% are running a modern browser in IE9.
7% of Basecamp users on undesirables
In summary, we have ~1% of users on an undesirable version of Firefox and about 6% on an undesirable version of IE. So that’s a total of 7% of current Basecamp users on undesirable browser versions that take considerable additional effort to support (effort that then does not go into feature development or other productive areas).
So we’ve decided to raise the browser bar for Basecamp Next and focus only on supporting Chrome 7+, Firefox 4+, Safari 4+, and, most crucially, Internet Explorer 9+. Meaning that the 7% of current Basecamp users who are still on a really old browser will have to upgrade in order to use Basecamp Next.
This is similar to what we did in 2005, when we phased out support for IE5 while it still had a 7% slice of our users. Or as in 2008, when we killed support for IE6 while that browser was enjoing closer to 8% of our users.
We know it’s not always easy to upgrade your browser (or force an upgrade on a client), but we believe it’s necessary to offer the best Basecamp we can possibly make. In addition, we’re not going to move the requirements on Basecamp Classic, so that’ll continue to work for people who are unable to use a modern browser.
Basecamp Next, however, will greet users of old browsers with this: