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CDAP - Introduction

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Introduction to CDAP, the Cross-browser Device Assessment Panel


Oh wad some power the giftie gie us

To see oursel’s as others see us!

It wad frae monie a blunder free us,

And foolish notion.

from a poem, "To a Louse", by Robert Burns, the national poet of Scotland


For those who have a problem with the Scottish dialect, Robert Burns was stating that we do not always know how others see us. This can be particularly true for websites. This Forum is designed to help website designers with Cross-Browser / Device issues for a website they have designed. The official title is the Cross-browser Device Assessment Panel. The short form of this is the CDAP. If you understand how the Website Hospital functions, then you'll find that this works in a very similar way.


The core idea is "How does the person at 'the other end' of the Internet see what you're beaming out? How can you make sure it works for as many people in your target audience as possible?" It is a very practical place to help you in the very final stage of developing your website. You should only submit your website and seek the help of members when you're satisfied that your website works in some browser/device combination. The objective is to see whether the website breaks in some serious way in some other important browser/device combination.


This is a particularly good process for a Forum such as ours. Our members have sharp eyes, are very knowledgeable and use a wide variety of browsers and devices. So the resources are there to do a great job on this. In particular, any one of us can be a little image-blind after staring at the same screen for any length of time. You are much more likely to have any problems identified when you have different members of the Cre8asite team working with you.


This Panel can act as a Quality-Assurance process on web pages that are satisfactory in their 'default' browser/device combination to ensure that a wider audience can also see them satisfactorily.


The Forum is also intended to be a 'One-Stop Shopping' place for issues on Cross-browser Compatibility as this relates to different devices. So it will include topics on tools that may be useful, examples of famous websites that are not cross-browser compatible, screen resolution issues particularly for mobile devices, standards as they affect cross-browser compatibility and so on.



Why is this new Forum needed?

The Internet is a fast, evolving place. In any market-place, a significant proportion of website visitors will now be using browsers other than Internet Explorer. Most browsers will show web pages somewhat differently. In particular in some cases there can be a major difference between how Internet Explorer and say Mozilla Firefox will show the same web page. Increasingly we're also seeing a fraction of the Internet population who will be using mobile devices with smaller screens. Some may also use specialized equipment given problems of visual acuity.


This is also a particularly important time since Microsoft has now launched its Internet Explorer Version 7 on a Beta 2 Preview basis. This version uses a Standards-compliant mode for correctly identified Strict-standard web pages. It uses a Quirks mode for all others. This is an attempt to move towards standards-compliant web pages, while not abandoning the legacy of non-standard web pages that often include hacks.


This is likely to be an evolving and growing topic. Note that in 2006 Stanford's Persuasive Technology Lab will focus its research on a new and exciting area: mobile persuasion. They hope to develop a theory of what makes mobile devices (mobile phones, PDAs, handheld gaming systems, etc.) uniquely persuasive. It's an area to watch for all of us.


There are two reasons then for launching this new Forum at this time:

  • Some people are aware of the challenges, and will appreciate a place to test how well they're doing and keep up with the hot topics on this subject.
  • Other people are blissfully unaware they should even care about this - we hope to sensitize them to the issues by showing what others are doing.

You will get a better appreciation of how you can use this Forum by reading the Sticky on Submitting a Website for Assessment. The objective is to try as far as possible to keep the content of this Forum in line with the Assessment Panel concept. So if there is significant discussion required on a particular technical CSS or Usability issue, then this would be better handled in the relevant technical Forum.


To provide additional information and to illustrate the importance of the issue, members are also encouraged to start threads on any noteworthy websites that work well in one device/browser combination but break in a major way in some other important combination. Other threads where the key theme is Cross-Browser Compatibility in different devices can be included.

Edited by bwelford

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