Site patching works

Back then when we added the browser.js feature I heard some sceptical voices saying that fixing broken sites automatically was a bad idea because then the site had no incentive for fixing it themselves. The risk was that the web might become even more fragmented, with even worse examples of incompatible code because Opera would automagically fix things and cloak the faults of the webmasters.

Now call me an optimist, but we have about half a year's experience with browser.js and I'm seeing evidence of the opposite. Three good examples are allmusic.com, shockwave.com and atomfilms.com – they all had long-standing issues with Opera, they were patched successfully with browser.js and a few months after the patch, each site was fixed by the webmaster!

So perhaps, perhaps site patching does exactly what we hoped: increases Opera's ranking in site statistics by making previously unusable sites available to Opera users, thereby making webmasters more concerned about Opera compatibility (because such decisions are often based on browser stats) and eventually creating a more compatible web.

Of course it also helps that we always contact the website before or while we patch it.

It is no accident that browser.js is a simple text file written in readable and reasonably well commented JavaScript and that it always outputs some text in the JavaScript console when it does something. We could have done things differently, we considered pre-compiling the script somehow for performance – but in the end, it was most important to keep the whole feature as open for inspection as possible. And that pays off: we hear from web developers who sit down and read through the section of browser.js that is used on their website, for to-the-point, updated information about where in their site there are problems and scope for improvements. Thus browser.js itself becomes a way of communicating directly to the web developers we need to reach!

Hey, some of the fixes in browser.js can even be cut and pasted into the site to solve the problem 🙂

Yes, I think site patching works – and every patch I can remove from browser.js is a vote for that conclusion.

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8 thoughts on “Site patching works

  1. Wow…I begin to write a wish about signature of every patch, but I look to browser.js and found signatures ;-)You read our wishes directly from our minds… 😉

  2. Excellent! It's really nice to hear that some sites at least are fixing their code and not sitting back and letting Opera do all the work. It will be interesting to find out how many sites are still in browser.js in another six months…

  3. By paying such close attention to specific sites we see the web as a whole evolve. The whole picture of incompatibilites can be depressing, but the details are surprisingly positive.

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