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7 chronic browser bugs plaguing the web

Peter Wayner | Oct. 18, 2016
From video glitches to memory leaks, today’s browser bugs are harder to pin down, even as they slow the web to a crawl

Touches and clicks

It’s not easy to juggle the various types of input, especially now that tablets and phones generate touches that may or may not act like a mouse click. It shouldn’t be surprising then to find there are plenty of bugs in this area. The Bootstrap JavaScript framework keeps a hit list of its most infuriating bugs, and some of the worst fall in this category.

Safari, for instance, will sometimes miss finger taps on the text in the <body> tag (151933). Sometimes the <select> menus don’t work on the iPad because the browser has shifted the rectangle for looking for input (150079). Sometimes the clicks trigger a weird wiggle in the item -- which might even look like it was done on purpose by an edgy designer (158276). All of these lead to confusion when the text or images on the screen don’t react the way we expect.

Video

The plan has always been to simplify the delivery of audio and video by moving the responsibility inside the browser and out of the world of plugins. This has eliminated interface issues, but it hasn’t removed all the problems. The list of video bugs is long, and many of them are all too visible. Bugzilla entry 754753 describes “mostly red and green splotches that contain various ghost images,” and Bugzilla entry 1302991 “’stutters’ for lack of a better word.”

Some of the most complex issues are emerging as the browsers integrate the various encryption mechanisms designed to prevent piracy. Bug 1304899 suggests that Firefox isn’t automatically downloading the right encryption mechanism (EME) from Adobe. Is it Firefox’s fault? Adobe’s? Or maybe a weird proxy?

Video bugs are going to continue to dominate. Integrating web video with other forms of content by adding video tags to HTML5 has opened up many new possibilities for designers, but each new possibility means new opportunities for bugs and inconsistencies to appear.

Hovering

The ability for the web page to follow the mouse moving across the page helps web designers give users hints about what features might be hidden behind an image or word. Alas, hovering events don’t always make their way up the chain as quickly as they could.

The new Microsoft Edge browser, for instance, doesn’t hide the cursor when the mouse is hovering over some <select> input items (817822). Sometimes the hovering doesn’t end (5381673). Sometimes the hover event is linked to the wrong item (7787318). All of this leads to confusion and discourages the use of a pretty neat effect.

 

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