First serious stab at mobile browser grading

jQuery announced the jQuery mobile project, which aims at bringing jQuery to mobile browsers. All mobile browsers; not just Safari iPhone and Android WebKit.

Still, bringing the library to all mobile browsers is a rather tall order, since there are so bloody many of them. Therefore John Resig has spent a lot of time with mobile phones (I know all about that, so I admire his persistency) and has produced a first serious stab at mobile browser grading.

jQuery’s approach differs slightly from Yahoo!’s, in that it has A-, B-, C- and F-grade browsers.

  1. A High Quality. A high quality browser with notable market share. A must-target for a mobile web developer.
  2. B Medium Quality. Either a lower quality browser with high market share or a high quality browser with low market share. Depending upon your capabilities you should work to support these browsers, as well.
  3. C Low Quality. Typically an extremely low quality browser with high market share. Generally not capable of running modern JavaScript or DOM code.
  4. F Failing. A barely-functioning browser. Even though it has some market share you should avoid developing for it completely.

Safari iPhone 3+, Android WebKit, Dolfin, Opera Mobile 10+, Symbian v5 (which I call Symbian WebKit 2), BlackBerry 6.0 (the WebKit-based one), Palm WebKit, Firefox, and the MeeGo MicroB browser (Gecko-based) are the A-graded ones, and I agree.

I hope other libraries will follow suit. In fact, Dojo and YUI are already doing so, although I’m not sure exactly where they are right now. (Pointers very welcome.) Ext.js has completely moved to mobile and has been renamed Sencha. My personal beef with Sencha is that they only support iPhone and Android; their examples do not work on Dolfin (Samsung bada), while that browser also supports the touch events. But that’ll change

Of course I fully support all these moves. My support will likely take the form of continuing to report on the mobile browsers and their odd quirks; that’s what I have been doing for the first generation of libraries, and that’s what they still need most.

This is the blog of Peter-Paul Koch, mobile platform strategist, consultant, and trainer. You can also follow him on Twitter.
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1 Posted by Andrew Hedges on 14 August 2010 | Permalink

I agree the work by the jQuery team is very welcome. It's tough for any small team to get their hands on enough different devices to get a handle on this themselves. I know we'll be referring to this chart when deciding which platforms to support.

2 Posted by Rafael on 14 August 2010 | Permalink

Firefox is called Fennec on mobiles. ;)

3 Posted by kl on 14 August 2010 | Permalink

It's great that they didn't forget about Opera and Gecko.

In mobile space "cross-browser" started to mean "two minor revisions of WebKit", and that's just not healthy.

4 Posted by Corey on 14 August 2010 | Permalink

@Rafael, 'Fennec' is now called 'Firefox for mobile'

5 Posted by jonarnes on 14 August 2010 | Permalink

I would say this kind of stuff is difficult to do without some kind of server side magic when loading the js lib... Creating one lib that fits all browsers, or classes of browsers, will create overhead. Looking forward to the future....

6 Posted by Pavel on 17 August 2010 | Permalink

I agree with [5]. Using this kind of "brutal force" on mobile browsers and networks.. I do not believe it is the way. The ecosystem is too heterogenous.

7 Posted by Fabian on 17 August 2010 | Permalink

I am happy they published their mobile support matrix. Hopefully others will follow. I will stick to that reference for webdesign for mobile browsers.

8 Posted by Agustin Lopez on 17 August 2010 | Permalink

Wow, this are really great news. I have experience with most of the javascript libraries and jquery is the one I like the most. As I am starting to develop mobile sites on my own.. this will help me a lot with that. Do they have any estimated date for a release or beta?

9 Posted by David Storey on 19 August 2010 | Permalink

I call tosh. Opera Mini is graded as C grade:

Typically an extremely low quality browser with high market share.

I think the author should declare his bias and the company he works for. Yes Opera Mini has restricted JS support but "extremely low quality" ? Sounds like a Mozilla party line to discredit Opera when they’re leading the mobile market share race. There is just no way you can call it exremely low quality with a straight face. If it was so bad, how can it cope with complex desktop sites like Facebook? It has restrictions due to design decisions because it has to work on phones that non-über geeks, who are the target of this blog and the people who use the library actualy use day in day out to browse. Otherwise they couldn't access the web at all. I'm personally proud we are able to do that, and not just push the elitist smart phone agenda. I don't think those millions of users we give access to the web to will call it "extremely low qualality". Rant over.

10 Posted by Andrew on 21 August 2010 | Permalink

@David Opera Mini is a kind of a special case here. When the page is loaded JavaScript functionality is very limited. But during loading the page gets processed by Opera servers which run the actual browser engine.

This means that web developers can assume that their start-up scripts will be executed. And that's great! I know a lot of folks who use JavaScript to fix their layouts and those pages get loaded properly. As a result users might actually get a pretty good web-experience.

I think jQuery users shouldn't outrightly dismiss Mini. At least they can be sure their onLoad scripts will be executed.

11 Posted by Michael Mullany on 27 August 2010 | Permalink

Two comments from Sencha. First, you'll be happy to know that we're going to support Blackberry OS6 - you can see what we found on our "HTML5 on OS6 blog post." The short take is that it's a great browser on a device with a lousy processor and no GPU, so we're doing the work to accommodate. We'll be supporting Nokia when it comes out with good touch-based webkit browsers too.

Also, we haven't moved completely to mobile, we're still pumping out new versions of Ext JS, Ext GWT and our tool sets.