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axelsena
Community Contributor

Why is Firefox ESR Unsupported?

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It appears that sometime around April 22nd, 2019, Instructure made what appears to be an unannounced change that resulted in a "Unsupported Browser" warning message appearing on Firefox ESR releases.

After doing a bit of digging, it looks like Instructure is opposed to supporting the ESR release https://community.canvaslms.com/ideas/1134?sr=search&searchId=b38b9f22-1ad7-4733-9331-d58b493f727b&s...

My main question is why?  The ESR (Extended Service Release) is commonly deployed in large organization and education institutions.  Canvas being a LMS (Learning Management System) that is heavily used in these environments this decision does seem odd.  However, we have heard several Instructure employees make comments that Google Chrome is the recommended browser.  Maybe this is some weird way to push users away from Firefox?

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erinhmcmillan
Community Team
Community Team

Hi, all,

We've made a change in our browser file to reflect Firefox version 60 as the minimum browser. Any Firefox versions 60 or above will not display the warning banner. Details posted in https://community.canvaslms.com/docs/DOC-16493-canvas-release-notes-2019-04-20#jive_content_id_Brows... 

Thanks!

Erin 

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18 Replies
sendres
Community Participant

Hi  @axelsena ‌,

Many of us are feeling the same pain. Instructure hadn't updated their list of unsupported browsers in a while and unexpectedly decided to flag Firefox ESR without disclosing the change in the release notes. Please join my thread on the release notes comments page in which we are proposing that Firefox ESR and Chrome for Enterprise be excepted from the list of unsupported browser warnings. The warnings do no good, since the end user is unable to perform an upgrade.

Please also complain to your CSM!

axelsena
Community Contributor

 @sendres  I was actually just responding there!

James
Community Champion

This is nothing new and wasn't a change so it shouldn't appear in the release notes. It has been practice for at least four years.

On April 15, 2015, https://community.canvaslms.com/ideas/1134 was created as a feature request. It is in cold storage so you may not be able to see it and it won't show up in the searches unless you're a member of that group.

There was a response made from Instructure on May 28, 2015. I'll repost it here since you would have to join the group to see it. There is an interesting discussion there, though, if you would like read through it.

Thank you to everyone who took the time to carefully read through and comment on this feature idea (in the current forum and, many of you, in the old forum previously). This is obviously an important issue for a lot of Canvas users, particularly in large computer lab deployments. After weighing all the opinions expressed, we have decided to continue with our decision not to support the Firefox ESR browser.

Considerations that supported this decision:

  • Relatively few of the people logging into Canvas currently use the FF ESR browser (less than one percent by recent count).
  • Because Firefox is relatively stable when compared to other popular browsers, users of ESR rarely encounter errors that would be alleviated if we quality checked every change to Canvas against this browser.
  • Not releasing features that take advantage of newer web technologies because they would not run reliably in a year old browser would necessitate delaying the release of new features to Canvas users who do not use ESR
cholling
Community Champion

well that explains that. I wondered why I got that unsupported warning! Thanks for the info.

axelsena
Community Contributor

 @James ‌ There was indeed a change made during the release, so it most certainly should have been included in the release notes.  The change was not around the supported browsers, but rather around the file that is used to display the message.

See the comments on https://community.canvaslms.com/docs/DOC-16493-canvas-release-notes-2019-04-20 for more details

sendres
Community Participant

Hi  @James ‌,

You are correct that Firefox ESR being unsupported is not new. However, it _is_ a change for it to be flagged as such and that change has significant consequences for the institutions that use ESR.

We have been using Firefox ESR for some time without issue until this weekend when the warnings began popping up all over. As an institution, we are unexpectedly forced to deal with student concerns and must allocating resource to test various alternatives, build a new image, and reimage hundreds of computers with a different browser. As a small college with an IT staff of 16, unplanned situations like this strain our resources.

We try really hard for both the perception and reality to be that we are supporting our students and faculty with great learning technologies. It's one of the reasons we use Canvas. Instructure is (typically) very focused on the user experience, but in this instance it appears nobody stopped to think that this seemingly innocuous change would have on those of us who rely on Firefox ESR.

meichin
Community Participant

Thank you, James, for posting the skinny on Firefox ESR and Canvas! I have posted my thoughts after each bullet.  

  • Relatively few of the people logging into Canvas currently use the FF ESR browser (less than one percent by recent count). - I think Canvas needs to do a recount now that they have grown their business.  We have tons of computer labs that use it because it is a stable browser that doesn't require constant updating.
  • Because Firefox is relatively stable when compared to other popular browsers, users of ESR rarely encounter errors that would be alleviated if we quality checked every change to Canvas against this browser. That's great!  So I think the scary pop-up message would be unnecessary, right?  Just let them use it!  We shouldn't tell people to ignore the message, but we also shouldn't post one if we think it is okay to use Firefox ESR. Right?
  • Not releasing features that take advantage of newer web technologies because they would not run reliably in a year old browser would necessitate delaying the release of new features to Canvas users who do not use ESR  I agree this would be a hindrance! So there are issues then? I thought the second bullet sort of said not to worry about things not functioning in ESR? Bottom line: This did cause a lot of angst today for our team and other tech departments throughout our campus.  It came at a terrible time for us - the week before exams when everything is due.  Maybe there is just a handful of us using Firefox ESR widely, but maybe not. I think a revisit is in order for Canvas, and definitely a warning about posting a warning!  Smiley Happy
erinhmcmillan
Community Team
Community Team

Hi, all,

We've made a change in our browser file to reflect Firefox version 60 as the minimum browser. Any Firefox versions 60 or above will not display the warning banner. Details posted in https://community.canvaslms.com/docs/DOC-16493-canvas-release-notes-2019-04-20#jive_content_id_Brows... 

Thanks!

Erin 

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jonespm
Community Member

It looks like Instructure reverted this on Tuesday. I am using Firefox ESR 60.6.1esr on my work computer (pre-installed) and it doesn't give me the warning. Changing the user agent does still give the warning, so it appears as at least for our instance of Canvas it's fixed.

This (old FF 46) and any version below 60 as the user agent has the warning box

Mozilla/5.0 (Macintosh; Intel Mac OS X 10.11; rv:46.0) Gecko/20100101 Firefox/46.0

This one from 60.0 ESR is fine.

Mozilla/5.0 (Macintosh; Intel Mac OS X 10.14; rv:60.0) Gecko/20100101 Firefox/60.0

Firefox 60 and 68 look to be the 2 current ESR releases.