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Detect CSS3 3D Transform Support via User Agent sniffing

This script detects CSS3 3D Transform support across browsers

Front-end development is messy in today's fragmented world. At Art.sy, our goal is to do what it takes to provide an incredible experience for all of our users (IE8+, iOS and the usual suspects). Deploying bleeding edge tech, like CSS 3d transforms, is an exercise in compromising principals for practicality -- and managing these 'compromises' in well documented code.

We looked to Modernizr's feature detection approach to provide us with a reliable way to detect CSS3 3D transform support across browsers. They have some well documented struggles around the issue. After flipping most of the tables in the office ┻━┻ ︵ヽ (`Д´)ノ︵ ┻━┻ , we settled on useragent sniffing as the most robust method for detecting CSS3 3D transform support. But why did none of the available methods work for us?

CSS3 3D transforms involve interaction between the browser and the graphics card. The browser may be able to parse the 3D declarations but may not be able to properly instruct the graphics card in how to render your page. There are many possible outcomes ranging from the page rendering with lines across it (Safari 4) to the page rendering beautifully then crashing the browser seconds later (Safari on iOS4). Any 'feature detection' approach would unacceptably flag these as 'supports CSS3 3D transforms'. This is one case where 'feature detection' fails and user agent sniffing (and lots of testing) wins hands down.

Most feature detection assumes a 'supports' or 'does not support' binary. This is not the case with CSS3 3D Transforms - there is a 'gradient of support'.

CSS3 3D transform support can be separated into 4 levels:

  1. Reliably supports 3D transforms across most machines. For example: Safari 6
  2. Can parse and apply 3D transform declarations but ignores the 3D parts. For example: Chrome on a Retina MacBook Pro.
  3. Can parse and apply 3D transform declarations but renders in unacceptable ways. For example: Safari 4 and Safari 4/5 on Windows show lines across the page.
  4. Cannot apply 3D transform declarations in any way. For example: IE or Firefox < v10

This returns 'true' for 1 and 2 but false for 3 and 4.

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Script for detecting true CSS3 3D Transform support across browsers

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