September 20, 2005, 3:16 PM — People are accessing the web in more ways than ever, using mobile phones, PDAs and even portable gaming systems. Wireless Web browsing is a popular feature, and is showing up in gadgets of all types.
Most sites get the bulk of their traffic from Internet Explorer and Firefox users, and, to a lesser extent, Netscape and Safari users. Look beyond the major browsers, though, and you may find some strange and unusual web browsers are being used to access your website.
What the *&^*& is that web browser?
If you've ever looked in your web server log file, you've probably seen some strange web User Agents. User Agents are text strings sent by browsers to websites when requesting a Web page.
These requests leave their mark in your Web Server log files. Your logs may have entries for strange-sounding User Agents, including Arachnoidea, Atomz, BunnySlippers, ChristCRAWLER, Cowbot, Dumbot, Snoopy and even "Ziggy -- The Clown From Hell!!"
Many of these Agents are for web crawlers that read web pages to create search indexes. Others are automated hacking scripts, looking for website vulnerabilities to exploit.
Besides crawlers, though, you're likely to see page requests from an increasingly varied collection of Web-enabled devices. Here are some examples of the new devices that people may be using to view your site, along with some of their more important features:
Screen: 4.3 inch, 16:9 widescreen TFT LCD, 480 x 272 pixel screen (16.77 million colors)
User Agent: Mozilla/4.0 (PSP (PlayStation Portable); 2.00)
The PSP has built-in wireless support and a relatively large screen. While the PSP displays pages slower than a typical computer, it is relatively fast and powerful compared to many portable Web devices.
Screen: 240x160 (BlackBerry 7520)
User Agent: Blackberry, BlackBerry/3.6.0
Palm OS Devices
Screen: 320x480 color screens, varies
User Agent: Mozilla/4.0 (compatible; MSIE 6.0; Windows 95; PalmSource) NetFront/3.0
Blazer User Agent: Mozilla/4.0 (compatible; MSIE 6.0; Windows 98; PalmSource/hspr-H102; Blazer/4.0)