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In support of modern browsers: End of support for IE9 and Safari 5

The team here are busy working on updates to Capsule and some of the updates take advantage of capabilities in modern browsers that aren’t available in Internet Explorer 9 or Safari 5. As always we don’t take the decision to drop support for older browsers lightly. Internet Explorer 9 and Safari 5 now account for less than 1% of Capsule usage and for the most part there are alternative browser options available to these users to enable them to continue to use Capsule. As a result we’re discontinuing support for Internet Explorer 9 and Safari 5 on September 9, 2014.

We’ve also taken the opportunity to formalise our browser support policy. We’ve taken Google’s lead on this and will follow a similar policy of supporting:

  • The latest version of Google Chrome and Firefox, both of which automatically update whenever they detect a new version of the browser is available.
  • The current and previous major releases of Internet Explorer and Safari. So for example when IE12 is released, we’ll drop support for IE10 and just support IE11 and IE12.

Microsoft have stated they aren’t updating Internet Explorer beyond version 9 for users of Windows Vista. If you’re on Windows Vista and currently access Capsule using IE9 then you can continue to use Capsule by switching to Google Chrome or Mozilla Firefox.

Improved task reminder emails

One of the projects we’re working on right now is to improve the readability and design of email notifications generated by Capsule. If you’re the owner of a Capsule account you might have already spotted the new email designs in the signup, billing and user invite emails. One of the main changes is that these emails are no longer plain text but have a fresh HTML design. Next up is the daily task reminder email which is delivered to most of our users every morning. Here’s a peek at what you’ll see when the new email design is rolled out this week:

Task reminder

For those of our users familiar with creating email newsletters you may be aware of how HTML support differs greatly across email clients. If you’re sending your own HTML emails or newsletter to your customers here’s a few things to look out for when creating your emails:

  • Unless you have HTML development skills and a lot of patience, you’re best to use an email marketing service that includes templates or an email design tool that helps ensure your design works well across email clients. Take a look at MailChimp or ActiveCampaign which are add-ons for Capsule, or CampaignMonitor which can be connected to Capsule via the integration platforms Zapier or Cloudwork.
  • If you do want to create your own HTML template there are some good guides available such as Campaign Monitor’s Email Design Guidelines.
  • Your readers all have a preferred email client ranging from web based clients, desktop clients and mobile clients. Each client may render HTML differently or not support standard practise’s combining HTML and CSS. Outlook 2013 specifically has many quirks.
  • Testing across email clients is time consuming if you try to do it manually. The services suggested above typically include automated tools to easily view your design in the different email clients, or alternatively you can use a dedicated service such as Litmus.
  • It is impossible for your design to look exactly the same on every client summarised nicely by the team at Campaign Monitor “Just remember that pixel perfection in all email clients is a pipe dream.”

In support of modern browsers: Saying goodbye to Internet Explorer 7 & 8

It’s fair to say that older versions of Internet Explorer aren’t well loved by web developers. We spend a lot of time testing and creating workarounds for IE 7 & 8 when working on new updates to Capsule. Even then, the user experience and reliability we can offer in these browsers is compromised because the capabilities of these browsers are far behind what is achievable in a modern browser. Patching the limitations in these browsers also means we end up deploying more code which adds to page load times.

With limited time and resources, it’s important that we focus our efforts in the areas that add most value across our customer base. Discountuining support for IE 7 & 8 will let us move faster and with less constraints. As of July, Capsule will no longer support IE 7 or 8.

We haven’t taken this decision lightly. The vast majority of our users are on Chrome, Firefox or Safari. Internet Explorer users account for 11% and most of these are already on IE 9 or 10. Usage for IE 7 & 8 has been falling over the last 12 months and now accounts for around 1% and 2% respectively.

App browser usage

There is a general trend towards phasing out support for Internet Explorer versions under 9. Many popular web applications such as Google Apps and Facebook have either dropped support or are in the process of doing so. This same trend is hapening in the tools and libraries that we use to build Capsule. For example, the popular javascript library jQuery which we use has started to require IE 9+ for it’s latest and most efficient version which we will be upgrading to.

If you are using Internet Explorer 7 or 8 we suggest that you upgrade to a modern browser such as Google Chrome or Internet Explorer 10. If for whatever reason you’re unable to do so we’ve added support for Google’s Chrome frame which is a free plug-in for Internet Explorer that web apps can use to provide you with additional features and better performance. Visiting Capsule using IE 7 or 8 you will see a prompt to install Chrome frame:

IE 7 & 8 - Chrome frame prompt

Internet Explorer is officially square

This blog post was written before Javelin was renamed to Capsule. See this post for more details.

We’ve been introducing rounded corners into the Javelin user interface recently. Rounded corners and curves are nice and they provide us with a simple way to keep Javelin looking fresh, or at least it should have been simple. As any web designer will tell you in words I can’t print here, Internet Explorer is a party pooper.

We’ve looked into using the many hacks for round corners in Internet Explorer and we tried a couple but they all have their issues which leads us to this position:

Frustration

So instead of spending our days making Internet Explorer fit a round hole we’ve left it square. In Firefox, Safari and Chrome you’ll get some rounded corner love:

Round corners in Firefox

And in Internet Explorer you’ll see square:

Round corners in Internet Explorer

And another example:

Tooltip comparison

I’m not on a crusade to change your web browser. The beauty of web applications is you get to choose your operating system and browser, but if you are using Internet Explorer and want to consider an alternative then Mashable did a browser round up recently.