Best Viewed in 1 of 11 Flavors of Chrome!

Animated GIF of 'Best Viewed in Chrome' 90s-era badge over mobile view of Google Maps
Make sure you view this on Google’s flavor of Chrome, otherwise, well, I have no idea what will happen.

Sometimes it’s frustrating being a developer who’s been around to see Mosaic supplanted by Netscape Navigator supplanted by Internet Explorer supplanted by Chrome/WebKit. Developers just love dumping one platform for the new shiny.

As I said last week, all of this has happened before and will happen again. The difference with this post is that I am not going to rant about lazy developers whining over a world that will still contain Internet Explorer and its offspring.

Instead, let’s ask the average anti-IE / pro-WebKit developer a very simple question — on how many flavors of Chrome do you test?

I don’t mean how many versions of Chrome. I also don’t mean how many different WebKit-based browsers. No, how many flavors of Chrome?

I’ll guess probably not more than a couple. I have four that I can, but typically don’t, use. Even at four that’s far too few.

Today Peter-Paul Koch pointed out that there are eleven (11!) flavors of Chrome (Chromia, if you will). All of them built on Chromium. Here’s the breakdown from his article:

Chromia Flavors
Vendor Version Tested Default Remarks
Google 40 Yes Yes
Opera 39 Yes No
Yandex 38 Yes No
Xiaomi 34 or 35 Yes Yes Zoom reflow
HTC 33 Yes Yes Zoom reflow
Cyanogen 33 Yes Yes
LG 30 Yes Yes Mid-range
Puffin 30 Yes No Proxy
Samsung 28 Yes Yes
Amazon 37 No Yes Silk
LG 34 No Yes High-end

You may have noticed that this only accounts for mobile devices. Some on Twitter also noted Chrome on Google TV, or on Android TV, which doesn’t account for the Samsung Android TV nor the Sony Android TV.

So maybe it’s fifteen (15!) flavors of Chrome. Either way, I suspect that number will continue to grow.

Even if I include IE6, I only have to worry about 5 versions of Internet Explorer across mobile and desktop. If I want the idyllic WebKit-only world so many seem to crave, then I need about a dozen flavors of Chrome before I can get started with the Operas, Safaris, Yandexes, and Vivaldis (plural because those forks of WebKit also have their own versions to support)

All of this written against the backdrop of a Medium post claiming it won’t consider IE11 a Tier 1 browser because of what it considers an ugly border in the editor view. Unable to find IE developers anywhere, nor to figure out where to file a bug, Medium just browser-sniffs IE11 into a second tier. I’m sure Medium tested across eleven flavors of Chrome, though.

Please read PPK’s piece: Chrome continues to fall apart at brisk pace

Update: January 20, 2016

I haven’t done a good job of tracking new Chromium-based browsers over the last year, but today I found out about two: a Samsung browser for mobile devices (and possible TVs) and Brendan Eich’s Brave browser, which will serve its own ads instead of the ads on sites.

Let the Chromium fragmentation continue!

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