📝 CSS-Tricks 289: The Problem With Evergreen Browsers

View this newsletter on the web.

[Robin]: Here’s a smart take from Eric Bailey: just because we have evergreen browsers doesn’t mean we can use the latest features. “Evergreen browsers” here meaning browsers like Chrome and Firefox that update automatically without you having to do anything. Except, well, Eric shows how folks might not restart their machine or the browser itself and so they might not be getting the latest features:

Support from all evergreen browsers on caniuse.com does not necessarily mean support exists on the device a person is using—updates that have been “pushed” out don’t automatically get instantly applied.

[…] I advocate for tempering your excitement with some restraint. It can be very tempting to rush and use the new and the shiny. Believe me, I’m not exempt from this urge—CSS is about to go from great to amazing, and the urge to use new features is very real.

Instead, wait a bit. Work with the platform’s ability to create progressively enhanced experiences with CSS and JavaScript.

This sounds like a sad thing that we all should lament, but I think that this is perhaps one of the best things about working on the web. For example, Eric argues that we can use feature detection to detect if a browser can use the latest features in CSS like the upcoming subgrid…

.component { /* Base appearance */ } @supports (grid-template-columns: subgrid;) { .component { /* Styling and positioning enhancement tweaks if subgrid is supported */ } }

A lot of folks might feel annoyed that they have to build two interfaces here: one for the old way of doing things, and one for the new. But by progressively enhancing our interfaces ensures that we can provide the best experience to the highest number of users. We never have to leave folks behind.

All this is super interesting though because I’ve taken evergreen browsers for granted and never really thought about all the reasons why they might not update as magically as you think. Jim Nielsen wrote about this just the other day when he talked about a problem he discovered thanks to his mom. It’s a real interesting story but this was the takeaway for me:

In my brain, I always thought of Safari and Chrome as “modern” browsers. But even Chrome, an “evergreen” browser, failed because it wasn’t on an “evergreen” operating system (or hardware).

So what Eric and Jim’s posts remind me here is that even folks on the best hardware running the most up-to-date software benefit from progressive enhancement. And the more resiliency we build into our websites then the better off everyone is for it.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s