A pedant that hangs out in the dark corner-cases of the web.

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

User Agent Web Of Lies: Where Does It End?

Internet Explorer started it by lying in its user agent string, claiming to be Mozilla (meaning Netscape 4). It got worse with Opera claiming to be both Mozilla and MSIE. Safari included both Mozilla and Gecko (meaning Firefox, et al.) in its UA string. But now, Chrome mentions Mozilla, Gecko, and Safari/WebKit. Will someone please put a stop to this nonsense? Anyone still using a user agent string to select functionality deserves to be hung and drawn and quartered and whipped and boiled and chopped into little bits, then to have those bits jumped on. This snowballing user agent string business just serves to make HTTP slower, make web logs bigger, and parsing logs much more tedious.

Google Chrome User Agent String

Mozilla/5.0 (Windows; U; Windows NT 5.1; en-US) AppleWebKit/525.13 (KHTML, like Gecko) Chrome/0.2.149.27 Safari/525.13

Update: There's a great summary of the history of the user agent string at WebAIM: Blog - History of the browser user-agent string.