Understanding User-Agent strings

A User-Agent string is a small piece of text that your Internet browser transmits (each time you visit a web page) that allows the website you are viewing to know what kind of browser you are using. There are lots of different ways in which this information is used by the website, including: gathering of statistics about Internet Browser popularity, tailor the look and feel of the website for the device you are using (e.g. mobile phone), or enable/disable certain features based on the capabilities of your browser, and so on.

There are several ways to find out what the User-Agent string for your browser is (if you’re really that interested):

  1. Enter the following text in your address bar: javascript:alert(navigator.userAgent)
  2. Visit http://www.useragent.org (via Paul Watson)

Microsoft also has a good article that explains them in a little more detail.

Firefox 3 upgrade complete

Well I did my bit for Mozilla’s World Record attempt by downloading the latest release of the Firefox browser this evening. However, I’d have to say that Mozilla did rather a poor job at managing the launch of this new version.

They’ve been banging on about it for weeks and then when the big day finally arrived, there wasn’t a download button to be seen on the Mozilla site all day, with no obvious explanation that I could see. I fully expected to see some sort of imaginative countdown timer that would tell me when I should check back but no, I had to delve really deep into their website to discover that the launch wouldn’t actually take place until 6pm Irish time.

Of course, once the release did finally get under way, their websites fell over under the strain, which impressed me even less. I eventually managed to get a copy from one of their FTP sites thanks to Michele Neylon’s post.

All in all, I’m a big fan of Firefox and will stick with it but Mozilla annoyed me quite a bit with this one.