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Browser Support Policy

Last Modified
16:52, 30 Jan 2014

How We Support Your Browser

Blackboard's approach to determining browser support is driven by two main considerations:

  1. We want to support the latest browsers, especially where browser auto-updates drive rapid end user upgrades.
  2. We want to support an appropriately broad set of browsers that are being used among our clients.

When a browser is listed as supported, Blackboard is committed to supporting client usage in two main ways:

  1. Before a Learn release, by testing the available browser and operating system combinations to prevent any browser issues from being released.
  2. After a Learn release, by rapidly addressing client issues by:
    • Accepting Support cases on the platform technology, assisting with resolution, and escalating the issues for resolution, regardless of the browser in use.
    • Working to resolve any browser issues in product releases as with any other type of issue.

Supported Browsers

Blackboard supports four primary browsers for Learn releases. Links to the vendor sites for the browsers are included below.

This includes two browsers that follow a traditional software update path with periodic releases of new versions as Generally Available, typically tied to a particular operating system (OS):

With these browsers, if the vendor supports them on a particular version of their OS, then so does Blackboard

Safari 5 for Windows is an exception. Apple's continued support for this browser is unclear, and Blackboard does not test it.

Certain Internet Explorer configuration options can make it difficult to use some features of Blackboard Learn. To learn more, see the Internet Explorer Security Zones and Compatibility View topic in this section.

This also includes two browsers that follow a cross-operating system, channel-based rapid software update path:

With these browsers, Blackboard supports their "stable" release channel, which is the channel that gets the most testing by the browser vendors themselves before being released to users.

In addition, Blackboard supports Firefox's specialized Extended Support Release (ESR) channel, which is a subset of their stable channel designed for enterprise-wide deployment. To learn more, see Firefox's Extended Support Release page.

If you need information about the specific versions of each browser that were generally available when a particular service pack of Learn was released, see the Release Notes for that service pack.

Blackboard's Approach to Rendering in Browsers

  • The rendering layer of Blackboard Learn consists of Hypertext Markup Language (HTML), Cascading Style Sheets (CSS), and JavaScript that all comply with modern standards for those languages.
  • Our universal design approach focuses on interoperability. This means that wherever possible we do not write code specific to a certain browser or we use the minimum amount of encapsulation to handle variations among the browsers.
  • The rendering layer of Blackboard Learn interacts with the rendering engine of your browser, which is the part that draws the web pages in the main part of the browser window.
  • All of the browser rendering engines are designed to work well with standards-compliant markup in HTML, CSS and Javascript. This includes:
    • WebKit, which powers Safari, Chrome, and Opera
    • Blink, a version of WebKit that powers the most recent versions of Chrome
    • Trident, which powers Internet Explorer
    • Gecko, which powers Firefox

This design approach to the rendering layer of Blackboard Learn allows us to be confident that new versions of browsers, when released, will continue to work with current versions of Learn.

Blackboard's Approach to Browser Testing

To verify this confidence with each new service pack release, Blackboard executes our browser compatibility test suite against newly released browser versions on multiple OS combinations to ensure support prior to releasing a given service pack. This testing leverages the full set of automation and manual testing strategies available to ensure confidence in testing.

Newer Browser Versions

Because of the increased frequency of new browser version released by some vendors, Blackboard's policy is to support all new browser versions released to the market as Generally Available or by supported release channels, even if the browser is released after testing has concluded for the service pack. We address any critical browser issues found by clients in the field against a provisionally supported browser as a top priority. We execute frequent test cycles against new browsers to ensure the system continues to perform as expected and will update client facing supported browser documentation appropriately.

Older Browsers

Just as we recommend keeping up with the latest version of Blackboard Learn for the best experience, the browser vendors make the same recommendation about their software.

Some older versions of browsers from some vendors may have rendering issues with newer versions of Learn, and some newer browser versions may have rendering issues with older versions of Learn.

Blackboard still accepts client issues for these browsers reported to Support. However, the quickest path to resolution for such issues may be updating to a more modern version of the browser. In some cases, an additional recommendation might be to update to a more modern version of Learn.

Cookies and Javascript

Regardless of the browser being used, Blackboard Learn requires the use of session cookies and javascript enabled in the user's browser to provide the right experience for teaching and learning. 

Additional acceptance of persistent cookies or third-party cookies may be required for some features to function correctly, including WebDAV access to course files or content collection files and access to users' Blackboard profiles and Social Tools. To learn more, see the Using Persistent Cookies topic and the Social Learning Tools topic.

Blackboard also provides a Building Block to allow users to acknowledge a cookie disclosure statement when logging in to Blackboard Learn, as is required in some places. To learn more about this Building Block, see the Security Management - Cookie Disclosure topic.

Java and Other Browser Plugins

A handful of Blackboard Learn features require particular additional software to be installed. Without these, the features themselves do not function. Users may be prompted to install the additional software when accessing these features, or depending on individual browser security settings, users may need to acknowledge a browser message allowing the plugin to run on their system.

If you need information about the specific features that require browser plugins for a particular service pack of Learn or version information for the plugins themselves, see the Release Notes for that service pack.

Blackboard Learn can be used to serve media content or other types of specialized content that requires a browser plugin such as Java, Flash Player, Apple QuickTime, or other plugins to render the content. In these scenarios, the version of the plugin and the browsers that are compatible with the plugin, as well as installation and configuration instructions for the plugin, are determined by the nature of the content and will vary.

Assistive Software and Accessibility

Blackboard strives to make all its products as accessible as possible. To learn more about assistive technologies, visit http://access.blackboard.com


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