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There are many, many cases where UA sniffing is correct and required. Browsers are buggy, complicated pieces of software that don't always behave 100% as specified or expected.

Feature detection is well and good, and should be the first line of attack; but sometimes you need to account for things like certain versions of Safari having WebRTC "support" that's actually completely broken, certain versions of Chrome crashing when certain WebAssembly features are used, and Firefox-specific CSS bugs. (All real examples I've run into.)

It may not be the worst thing in the world if UA sniffing is broken for all existing web properties though, since anything not well maintained enough to migrate to a new API is probably either working off of outdated information or abusing UA sniffing where feature detection would have been more appropriate anyway.

That being said, requiring a server to use User Agent Client Hints is stupid. What are client-side libraries like webrtc-adapter (https://github.com/webrtcHacks/adapter/issues/1017) supposed to do? I don't see any goals listed that wouldn't be addressed equally well while providing an equivalent JS API.






> There are many, many cases where UA sniffing is correct and required.

This times a million.

Browsers have tons of bugs/inconsistencies where knowing the browser+version is the only way to work around them. Even when browsers fix them, you need to keep the workarounds for people still on the older versions.

When I wrote a library that used the audio API, I couldn't believe the number of browser+version-specific workarounds I had to code for.

And it's not just "bugs" but things where the spec is unclear. I don't remember the exact specifics, but it was a lot of stuff like "if I send a pause command, will a stop event fire afterwards or a pause event or no event at all?" There were a lot of situations where there was zero overlap between browsers. Literally no choice but to use user agent sniffing.


Just a couple of weeks ago we had a customer complain that their customers were having problems using our technology in IE11 because it was too slow...

We had to recur to identifying IE11 to write workarounds so that it works there...


Did you really require UA sniffing, though? There are other methods for detecting IE11, both for JS and CSS.

There is an equivalent JS API proposed.



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