Microsoft and Internet Explorer vs. web standards

After reading Chris Wilson’s post Microsoft, IE and the Web Standards Project I’d like to attempt to explain the feelings I, as a web standards advocate and web professional, have about Microsoft and Internet Explorer.

First of all I think it’s great to see the Group Program Manager of the Internet Explorer Platform team at Microsoft say the following, if only on his personal blog:

Yes, I have the power to enact change. Yes, I will continue to improve standards support and compliance in IE, and make the web better. That’s my job, my charter, my vision, and my passion. The day it isn’t, I’ll quit. The day the development of the standards-based platform in IE goes on a back burner again, I’ll quit.

Fantastic! Chris, if you’re reading this, I hope you’ll never see the need to quit your job!

Now let me explain why I’m not exactly shouting out my support for Microsoft now that Internet Explorer is finally being updated.

  • Microsoft, by not keeping Internet Explorer up to date as web development has moved into the era of open web standards, has caused web professionals all over the world a lot of grief. Prolonged development time (which equals reduced revenue) and many headaches and stomach ulcers have been caused to a large extent by Internet Explorer’s incredibly frustrating behaviour. If the buggiest web browser browser with the buggiest CSS implementation in the history of the Web wasn’t also the dominant one, I doubt many web professionals would bother with it.

  • Internet Explorer problems aside, I think the most important reason for many web professionals being cynical and very sceptical towards anything coming from Microsoft is the respectless way Microsoft has been treating us. For years we’ve been begging for improvements to IE. The response we received was “You are not our customers”.

  • I want freedom of choice. Anything that can help preventing Internet Explorer from completely dominating the web browser market again should be promoted by each and every person that wants to be able to choose which computer to use, which operating system to use, and which web browser to use. If any single profit-driven company’s web browser is allowed to dominate, the freedom to choose will be restricted. Most web developers are ignorant and lazy, and will take every shortcut they can. If those shortcuts mean shutting people out, they don’t care unless the number of people shut out is significant enough to affect their earnings.

  • I’m a Mac user, so Internet Explorer is not for me anymore. I only ever use it for testing purposes.

  • I honestly don’t think Internet Explorer 7 is good enough. It’s much, much better than IE 6, that’s for sure, but it has a long way to go before it catches up with Firefox, Safari, and Opera. Now I understand that the people on the IE team aren’t to blame for that - there are budgets and deadlines that affect how much they can do. But knowing that doesn’t really help us, does it? I’m sure the people at Apple, Mozilla, and Opera also have budgets and deadlines, and yet they manage to create browsers that have much, much better support for web standards. How is that possible?

So if you’ve been wondering why I’m not taking every chance to say “Go Microsoft! Yay for IE 7!”, now you know.

Posted on May 15, 2006 in Browsers, Web Standards

Comments

  1. All I can say to all of that is:

    Amen.

  2. I’m sure the people at Apple, Mozilla, and Opera also have budgets and deadlines, and yet they manage to create browsers that have much, much better support for web standards. How is that possible?

    You said it yourself:

    Microsoft, by not keeping Internet Explorer up to date as web development has moved into the era of open web standards,

    They fell behind, whereas Apple, Mozilla and Opera aren’t years behind.

  3. May 15, 2006 by Scott

    Geoffrey hit the nail on the head. It’s unreasonable to expect Microsoft to catch up on the past few years over the past few months.

    It’s well established that many web developers have been hurt over IE in various ways, but it’s time to stop dwelling in the past and move on. The people at Microsoft that have been disrespecting us are not the same people on the IE team, they’re generic support-type people who aren’t connected to any particular product team; their responses consist largely of canned scripts that most likely have nothing to do with what you said.

    Plenty of people at Microsoft have apologized, including Bill Gates himself. The best thing for web developers to do is accept the apologies and stop being obstinate. I’m not picking on you, Roger, in particular, but a lot of forefront web developers were and are very snobbish promoters of using FireFox to the point where they are doing the same thing they are condemning Microsoft of: advocating one browser above the rest.

  4. May 15, 2006 by Oliver

    @Scott I don’t think it’s snobbery that drives the support for Firefox, and I don’t think it’s reasonable to expect developers to suddenly come round to looking kindly on IE. I’m not dwelling in the past when I look at the clean, standards based code I wrote today that I’m now going to have to spend the evening kludging up in order for IE to render it properly.

    If IE7 does the job it’s meant to, so much the better: all I really care about is not having to cater for any “whimsical” interpretations of the box model, proprietary mark-up, etc. The sooner that happens the happier I’ll be, by whatever means it happens, whether at the cost of it being IE that dominates once more or not.

    My message to the guys developing at MS? Great to hear that there’s a new spirit afoot, and delighted you seem such a lovely open bunch of folks, but please just get on with it.

  5. I think a lot of the “dwelling in the past” is summed up like so:

    Internet Explorer problems aside, I think the most important reason for many web professionals being cynical and very sceptical towards anything coming from Microsoft is the respectless way Microsoft has been treating us. For years we’ve been begging for improvements to IE. The response we received was “You are not our customers”.

    I’m not saying everyone shouldn’t forgive, forget, and move on; I’m just saying I understand why some developers are having problems doing just that.

    Unfortunately, this comes at the expense of people like Chris Wilson, who obviously cares about the web dev community but is in the unenviable position of being MS’s “press secretary,” if you will.

    Actually, I like to think of it like this: Chris is Frodo, Microsoft is Mordor, and IE 6 is the Ring, which has 82% of mankind in its grasp. But that’s just me. :)

  6. Scott,

    I understand your point that banging on about what a pain web development can be due to IE’s deficiencies is a bit of a waste of time now that MS appear to be making the effort to bring their browser up to date. However, the frustration and cynicism brought about by Microsoft’s attitude over the last 5 years isn’t about to suddenly vanish just because Bill Gates said “sorry.”

    Regarding the “respect” point, my personal feeling is that MS demonstrated clearly that they had / have no respect for the web standards that they helped to draft (this still both exasperates and baffles me) by refusing to write a browser that supported web standards. And let’s be clear about this, they didn’t suddenly develop a conscience and realise “shucks, we really haven’t been treating people with enough respect”; they were cajoled, hassled, and generally pestered into doing the right thing by the likes of WaSP, and the rise of Firefox.

    So blaming it on a dodgy script in the support section doesn’t really cut much ice with me.

    Finally, regarding the practice of advocating Firefox as an alternative to IE, the original point was:

    If any single profit-driven company’s web browser is allowed to dominate, the freedom to choose will be restricted.

    Firefox is not the product of a profit-driven company, it is the product of a not-for-profit foundation (Mozilla Corporation is a wholly owned subsidiary of the Mozilla Foundation). And I can only dream of the day when a browser like Firefox becomes the dominant force in the market.

    Stephen

  7. May 15, 2006 by Jim

    Microsoft, by not keeping Internet Explorer up to date as web development has moved into the era of open web standards, has caused web professionals all over the world a lot of grief.

    I don’t think this can be emphasised enough. It’s not just “a lot of grief”.

    It’s years of being held back, knowing what you could do, knowing that it would be possible if it weren’t for this one damn browser.

    It’s hours spent at the office instead of with your friends and family for no other reason than Internet Explorer not being good enough.

    It’s knowing what absolute garbage it is, and yet being utterly powerless to do anything other than babysit it.

    It’s knowing that there is no end to it for years to come, even now that Internet Explorer 7 is almost finished.

    It’s knowing that even when Internet Explorer 7 is deployed on most people’s computers (my best guess the year 2010), it still won’t be good enough to handle a lot of CSS 2 (published 1998).

    Internet Explorer is a ten tonne weight around the neck of web developers everywhere, it’s been utterly demoralising for years, and I really can’t work up the energy to care that poor Chris is upset. I know he’s trying to do the right thing. I know it’s not his fault. But ultimately I, like a lot of web developers, have just reached the end of my tether and nothing will be good enough to stop this feeling of resentment.

    Yeah, there’s nothing he can do about it but put up with it. I guess after a few more years of unwarranted abuse, he’ll finally understand what it’s been like for us web developers.

  8. Yeah, I have to agree with Roger and the rest of the bitter web developers here. I darn near missed the shift to CSS in 2004 because I couldn’t figure out why my code wasn’t working in IE. If that had been the case, I’m not sure I’d still be in web design now if I knew my table-based skills were 1-2 years out of date and fading fast.

    IE was driven to take a stab at web standards with IE7 soley because of FF’s popularity and the fact that the term “web standards” has caught on with a small (but growing) number of tech purchasing depts/orgs/etc. But rest assured that given the chance, IE8 will go STRAIGHT back to the old MS proprietary ways. MS is here to make money, and nothing else, so there’s no incentive for them NOT to try to lock everyone in to IE again in the future.

  9. Great post, Roger. I especially like the third point about letting MS become too dominant. I would add there that one company having so much dominance in the browser market cannot be a good thing. I don’t care if it’s MS or Mozilla or my beloved Opera. Dominance = power = (too much) control. Which is why we’ve been stuck with outdated standards for so long. MS gets to decide what we can and can’t do.

    That said, better late than never :)

  10. May 15, 2006 by Oliver

    @Jim: With you all the way. Quite part from the mystery over how closely it’ll comply to (years-old) standards, until IE7 becomes a mandatory download, it’s pretty much vapour ware whether it remains in Beta or fully released. A massive part of the inertia that’s keping IE6 on our audience’s screens is down to apathy, hassle, lack of administrative privilege, etc, etc, etc. IE7 isn’t a silver bullet and the revolution isn’t going to happen overnight.

    @Graham: I don’t blame MS for trying to make money or be the market leader… but I just can’t see that they’ll have the opportunity. By remaining so utterly indifferent to developer demand for so long they’ve created a market they’re no longer in a position to squash and a groundswell of resentment that’s impacting on their whole brand. It’s nothing to get radical or cheer about, just a simple case of squandering a fortune.

  11. Nice one, although improving a faulty design in the first place is often futile. IE was one of Microsofts biggest mistakes. With mistake i mean that IE was build to be a so called: “shell browser” from where you can execute programs and sorts. While mozilla was not. When you design your browser to work like a shell, that’s asking for problems. And that is exactly what happened, beacause there is where most security issues are running.

  12. May 15, 2006 by dreamer

    As much as I have to agree with you, generally, this line made me ponder:

    If the buggiest web browser in the history of the Web wasn’t also the dominant one

    So either you haven’t been around in the Netscape 4 reign of terror or you already managed to repress it. Besides the fact that it was the dominant browser back in the days this hackjob of a browser’s era lasted for me, believe it or not, until 2005 due to one of my client companies’ blueprint. A client that happens to employ just over a hundred thousand people. Imagine my joy.

    I’d happily give a kidney and two fingers before ever, EVER, coding for Netscape 4 again. Compared to that abomination Internet Explorer deserves praise and jubilation.

  13. I find IE5.0 the bigger problem. IE5.5 and IE6 are fairly predictable if you use a full DOCTYPE and understand hasLayout…even though we shouldn’t need to.

    However, it would be much easier if all browsers supported CSS layout and/or degraded gracefully. I look forward to that day and see IE7 as an important step towards it. I’m only 20 so I’ll probably see it during my career. :)

    If we stay positive about the direction IE is taking now, there’s a better chance that MS will see the good publicity and will want to use open standards in other projects. That will make the web a better place, especially if it affects things like HTML generation in ASP.

    I think some website developers underestimate how difficult it must be to develop a fully featured, standards compliant web browser.

  14. been teaching 2nd day of a web design class today, i can assure you teaching people not to use IE is a nightmare.

    Of all things in the world this rates high on my list of things that pissa me off. a certain female politician that used to rule UK and george w bush come a close first though.

  15. I agree with everything you’ve said but how about a cold hard dash of realism. As long as people use Windows (and why they continue to use it is beyond me (yes I’m a Mac user but I’ve used WinTel’s for the past 14 years too), the majority will continue to use whatever Microsoft packages with the operating system.

    The fact is, most non-technical people don’t update or upgrade anything, they just continue to use it until it breaks or until they update their operating system. I had the misfortune of meeting a client last week to demonstrate an email newsletter I’d done using a pure css layout with floats etc to find they were using IE5 (yes, 5). You can imagine how that went….

    Anyway, back to my point - we can all sit around and complain about IE or get behind it. At the end of the day, either way, we’ll all have to cater for it for at least the next 5 years so any positive influence we can inject can only help us right? Lets not cut our noses off to spite our faces.

  16. May 16, 2006 by Benson

    I think there is no point arguing the problematic history of IE. Chris Wilson and rest of the IE team are in fact trying to improve the product to a point. That point being up to standards and within the business objective of Microsoft.

    It is a business and we, as developers and designers, of all people should understand their focus is on market dominance and profitability. No matter how questionable their business strategies are, IE is only part of the much larger plan that we need to support.

    I want freedom of choice.

    That choice is growing but only market forces will change that, not designers and developers.

  17. from comment 13

    I’m only 20 so I’ll probably see it during my career. :)

    Lol, multiply by 2.5, and the frustration is a bit harder. But maybe my grandchilden, one day…

    Seriously. I’ve finally move my lazy self, and installed the latest beta. It is less bad than feared. The are still a whole collection of surreal problems (one of my favourites: the acidic float tests).

    But I’m still frustrated, most of the work has gone into trying to hiding ‘hasLayout’. There are soo many other problems that limit what we could do. I understand the madness of attempting to port such an old, unmaintained rendering engine, and have no doubt that some of the lead engineers are commited to standards (thanks, Chris and Markus for the work done, anyway). But still: only a moderate cheer from me, and we need to keep the pressure on. (and hopefully, that thing will me included in a security update, that will speed up adoption)

  18. I really enjoy reading your column, Roger, and you generally have a lot of informative and entertaining opinions. However, I have to agree with dreamer above. When you call IE “the buggiest web browser in the history of the Web”, you just make yourself look like an ignorant reactionary, and that really doesn’t do you justice.

    Not only was Netscape 4 far worse than IE at the time, but early versions of Opera & Safari were horribly buggy, especially with their lackluster ECMAScript implementations, and Netscape 6 was one of the most horribly clunky abominations ever to come out of the “browser wars”, improved standards support or not.

    On the other hand, I do think the only reason Microsoft is showing a renewed interest in IE and allowing the IE development team this new scope of development, is the underlying knowledge that Vista is doomed to failure, and with it, its “web-killer” XAML technology.

  19. May 16, 2006 by Woody

    “If any single profit-driven company’s web browser is allowed to dominate, the freedom to choose will be restricted.”

    Do you feel the same about Apple, iPod and iTunes?

  20. What bothers me is the amount of time they spent adding tabs and other chrome instead of fixing browser and javascript (okay ECMAScript) bugs. But even if they fixed all the bugs today and IE 7 ended up being the most compliant browser even passing the acid2 test, we would still be stuck with IE 5, 5.5 and 6 for a very long time. You will still have:

    Prolonged development time (which equals reduced revenue) and many headaches and stomach ulcers have been caused to a large extent by Internet Explorer’s incredibly frustrating behaviour.

    That is not going away, not for a long time. Microsoft should have spent more time fixing bugs than adding fluff.

  21. May 16, 2006 by Roger Johansson (Author comment)

    Yes, I remember Netscape 4. And 3, 2, 0.97. Netscape 4 was really bad. I should have said “The browser with the buggiest CSS implementation in the history of the web”, because that is what I meant. I’ll update the article to avoid further misunderstandings.

    I didn’t write this to keep arguing the problematic history of Internet Explorer. I’m just trying to explain why I’m not as enthusiastic about IE 7 as many seem to think I should be.

    Woody:

    Do you feel the same about Apple, iPod and iTunes?

    Yes. But I don’t see the problem. My iPod plays the same MP3 files as any other MP3 player. iTunes creates MP3 files that work in any other MP3 player.

  22. May 16, 2006 by gary turner

    Phillipe, I’ve got more than a decade on you. There’s no chance I’ll ever be free of IE6. :(

    What I don’t understand are the apologiae for MSFT’s “new” direction taken with IE. It’s understandable that C. Wilson might feel a bit persecuted; to us ground-pounders he is Microsoft. How can he not expect a negative reaction? How can the MSFT apologists not expect a negative attitude? The best predicter of future behavior is past behavior, and MSFT’s past where web developers/development is concerned is not encouraging.

    Talk is cheap. That’s all we have so far. From all I can gather, IE7 fixes a few inconsequential bugs[1] and adds a slew of selector support. What it does not do is add any further support for css1[2] or css2 properties. Don’t even think about css3rc stuff or xhtml.

    Were IE7 in wide use today, it would still have less css support than Phoenix 0.5. Let’s not start tooting the horn for Chris and the boys until we get something more than cheap talk about how much they’re doing and how much they care. We need to hold their feet to the fire until MSFT actually delivers a browser that has reached par with the modern browsers.

    cheers,

    gary

    [1] Ones that have well known and easily applied patches and work-arounds.

    [2] My gawd! They don’t even support the majority of the display property from css1 of 1996

  23. I just wonder why IE still has problems with Web Standards when they shouldn’t have any problem since the beggining. I keep reading excuse after excuse and I know they’ve given a huge step since IE6 but still… For me it’s not acceptable that IE has problems with Web Standards when praticly all the other browsers don’t.

  24. One may say that Chris Wilson and the rest of the IE-team is doing an acceptable job, but that’s all.

    All relatively new browsers have bugs in their CSS-support. That’s bad, but usually not catastrophic.

    IE7 has more bugs in its CSS-support than any other relatively new browser. Adding to that that there’s so much CSS IE7 doesn’t support at all, it stands out as the weakest commercial browser ever prepared for release into an existing environment.

    The only reason for saying that the work behind IE7 is “acceptable” is that it beats its own predecessor - IE6. Not much to shout about otherwise.

  25. May 16, 2006 by Florian

    Now I understand that the people on the IE team aren’t to blame for that - there are budgets and deadlines that affect how much they can do.

    Alexander Clauss managed to build a browser with proper CSS2-Support (which passes Acid2, by the way) more or less on his own …

  26. May 16, 2006 by Martin

    Personally I wish Chris Wilson and his team well. They have from a disadvantageous position. With the release of IE7, I don’t think we could expect standards support on a par with FF.

    But Graham (comment 8) and Gary (comment 22) hit a few nails on the head. Resentment will linger, I think, because many of us believe that Microsoft is just doing what is propitious for it right now. We don’t believe that Microsoft is really committed to web standards intrinsically. Instead, we believe that it’s part of current Microsoft’s marketing strategy to create a favourable buzz in blogs around the net (particularly prestigious opinion-forming blogs such as Roger’s), from which, they hope, to gain from a postive ‘drip-down’ effect. A-list bloggers are positive about IE7? Well, I guess we all should be! And at least it might be time to re-evaluate our positions regarding Microsoft….. and so on. They want to achieve the kind of blog-fuelled wave of near euphoria that greeted the arrival of Firefox 1.0. They’re being very clever and careful, I believe, to proceed in this campaign on several fronts.

    Gary (comment 22) rightly said that the best predictor of the future is the past. I have no doubt that the decision from the higher echelons within Microsoft to go ahead with greater standards support in their latest browser was purely commercial. If later it seems to them that they should abandon standards and lock us all in to a proprietory model, because it benefits Microsoft, I believe that that is the course they will take.

  27. May 17, 2006 by matt

    The ie brand of browsers has been one of the most innovative bringing xmlhttp, editable text areas, and more. I look forward to the next version. I understand the importance of standards-compliance, but if we were stuck at the speed of w3c, we would not be privvy to many of the technologies that make web development as robust and powerful as it is today.

  28. I wander with all the firefox plug-ins being developed and installed: IE will never make it as your development browser of choice.

    The only that IE needs to provide is a bare minimum of browser functionality = working standard compliant websites

  29. May 17, 2006 by Jim

    If we were stuck at the speed of w3c, we would not be privvy to many of the technologies that make web development as robust and powerful as it is today.

    You’re kidding, right? The latest release version of Internet Explorer (6.0) can’t handle these properly:

    PNG 1.0 (approved as W3C Recommendation in 1996)

    CSS 1.0 (approved as W3C Recommendation in 1996)

    HTML 4.0 (approved as W3C Recommendation in 1997)

    CSS 2.0 (approved as W3C Recommendation in 1998)

    HTTP 1.1 (joint written by the W3C; published as IETF RFC in 1999)

    Internet Explorer is almost a decade behind the W3C in many important things. The speed of the W3C is not an issue. The speed of Microsoft is.

  30. We go to see if from now the Microsoft it develops a Browser of truth!

  31. May 17, 2006 by Christian

    I wander with all the firefox plug-ins being developed and installed: IE will never make it as your development browser of choice.

    It most certainly will be my first weapon of choice as long as I have 85-90% of the users using IE. I see a lot of ignorance from many webdevelopers that “embrace” standards and still make sites that look crappy in IE only because it’s not standards complient. I wouldn’t call myself a professional developer if a had such a site. http://www.garrettdimon.com/archives/front-end-architecture-browsers

  32. May 17, 2006 by Ryan

    Christian where are you seeing this “lot of web designers” following web standards and not fixing IE bugs? I don’t see lots of this, in fact its an extreme minority of professional web designers who do this, most can’t do it.

    However with my personal blog I have no intention to fix IE bugs, I allow people to see exactly how their browser renders valid code.

  33. May 17, 2006 by Roger Johansson (Author comment)

    I don’t see many, if any, ignorant web standards aware developers either. I do however see a lot of ignorance among web developers who use IE as their primary web browser and develop for IE first and then sometimes patch their code to make it work somewhat in newer browsers.

  34. May 17, 2006 by hateIE

    Christian, How can anyone defend MS in this argument (crusade/jihad)? Following standards isn’t ignorant… covering MS’s ass because they don’t follow the standards they help create is ignorant.

    Can you give me another example of a company that is 10 years behind on standards compliance and is leading its industry in market share? or still in business for that matter…

    I read the blog posting you provided… “CSS hacks are and always have been evil.” The only reason I’ve ever needed to hack CSS is because Microsoft doesn’t follow the standards. Do the sites you create look good in any other browser besides MS IE? If so, did you use any hacks? If they only work in IE, how do you call yourself a ‘proffesional’?

    How is MS IEv7 any better than v6 if it isn’t standards compliant? Why should any one feel good about the ‘progress’ MS is making… is ‘sorta compliant’ good enough? MS is never going to stop producing crap products if people don’t call them on it and stop covering for them.

    As far as feeling bad for the IE development team… please people… I feel bad for all the developers that have wasted god knows how many man-hours trying to fix IE issues.

  35. May 17, 2006 by Christian

    I guess it depends on how you define “crappy” and “ignorant” and I could post examples, but I don’t know hos much good that would do.

    I really don’t agree with you Roger on this one, that it’s ignorance to develop on IE first, not only because I do it. If you have a budget of getting the whole website up and running in about 15-20 hours (I would certainly like more time) and you have as I said about 85-90% IE users it would be extremely stupid to start with FF. As Garret said in his blog, use the lowest common denominator. In this case, IE … You shouldn’t think I don’t wish that rendering would behave the same in all brosers, even though I would take same of the fun away from the trade, but in some situations (most actually) you don’t have the benefits of using the time that you really would need. Therefore … “IE”-code for the masses.

  36. May 17, 2006 by Isaac Lin

    There’s an apocraphyal story about a wealthy financier travelling across the country by train, back when this was the height of luxury. Upset that his favourite flavour of ice cream was not available, he kicked up a fuss throughout the trip, until the crew was finally able to get some at one of the train’s stops. Taking one look at the proffered dessert, the financier swept the dish to the floor, saying, “I’d rather have my grievance!”

    It seems to me there’s a lot of people who would rather have a grievance than see improvements being made.

    I don’t care about the IE team getting pats on the back, but I don’t understand why anyone wants to spend time deriding the work being done right now. By all means, be wary of the future, if you wish, but it seems like a waste of energy to denigrate the current development work, for the sake of the past.

  37. May 17, 2006 by Christian

    @hateIE: I don’t think I said that I defend MS in my posting before. I would really like to have I better standard compliant webbrowser. But how many of you hate Netscape because they made crappy browsers 5 years ago? I trust IE when they say that they will make a better browser.

    If they only work in IE, how do you call yourself a ‘proffesional’?

    They work just fine in other browsers. If you compare sites pixels for pixels they wouldn’t match, but I don’t really see that as a problem. Even this site isn’t “pixelperfect” but I don’t really think Roger cares, and shouldn’t care, as long as they work the same. And I would say that Roger knows his stuff.

  38. @gary turner: I don’t understand your footnotes. We’ve done far more than just patch bugs that have workarounds, including adding new features, and I’m unaware of any ‘display’ values in CSS1 that IE6 doesn’t support.

    -Chris Wilson

  39. May 17, 2006 by Ryan

    @Christian If you code for IE now instead of modern browsers, what are you going to do when IE becomes one of these modern browsers too? Like IE7 should do in the near future.

    If you design for web standards compliant browsers first and then apply hacks to the less compliant “bad” browsers (such as IE5/6) you can pretty much guarantee forward compatability with future browsers and versions.

    However the way you design does not guarantee any forward compatability.

    But how many of you hate Netscape because they made crappy browsers 5 years ago?

    Is this still having a huge effect today? No, but crappy IE versions still have a very negative effect even today.

    The fact is, if IE was as good as the modern browsers available today I’d not only save a lot of time I’d probably be making more money…or saving money for my clients.

  40. May 17, 2006 by Roger Johansson (Author comment)

    Christian: Well it depends on how much work you want to save for later. In my experience it is far more work to get something working/displaying properly in compliant browsers if you’ve created your CSS to suit IE than the other way around. If you’ve found a workflow that doesn’t cause you more work, good for you :-).

    You’re absolutely correct in assuming that I don’t care much about minor rendering differences between browsers. I gave up that futile battle many years ago.

    Chris: Nice seeing you here! Regarding display values I am not aware of anything from CSS 1 that is missing in IE. Gary may be thinking of “display:table” et al. in CSS 2, which I would have loved to see support for. Maybe next time ;-).

  41. May 17, 2006 by Christian

    If you design for web standards compliant browsers first and then apply hacks to the less compliant “bad” browsers (such as IE5/6) you can pretty much guarantee forward compatability with future browsers and versions.

    But I can’t see the problem to develop a page that look almost identical in different browsers, if I use IE or FF or any other browser as first choice. After all, it’s the content that matters. It’s not like I ignore FF for instans only because I develop for IE first. I have only worked a very short time with the IE 7 beta but I haven’t came across any setbacks that has been of importance or broken the design.

    If you would develop a car, I really don’t hope you build it to go as fast as possible as your first objective. If you have a solid ground and break down the design first … it more or less builds it self. As an old computer science teacher only told us, at a maximum 10% of the totalt project time should be devoted to coding.

  42. May 17, 2006 by hateIE

    @Christian… that was 5 years ago… Netscape is basically no more (well they’re an ISP). Thanks to AOL & MS for that one. Netscape/Mozilla turned into Firefox, which isn’t perfect, but beats the snot outta IE on all fronts…

    In those same 5 years, how far has IE come in their two major version releases (of course these are only Windows releases)… and why are they on version 7?

    I’m from the school of thought that major versions get a new version number and incrimental releases get a .1 version increase.

    What improvements have really been made to IE to justify a full version number increase? As far as I’m concerned, MS has just dropped the “v5.” off of their last two deliverables. IE 6 is really v5.6, IE 7 is really v5.7.

  43. May 17, 2006 by Ryan

    @Christian

    well all I can really say is good luck for the future, you’ll be needing it.

  44. IE7 is by no means a bad update. PNG alpha support and min-width max-width are to name a few good changes. But lack of generated content (::after ::before) etc will still mean we will be using purely style related extra divs during 2010’s just to get some round corners etc.

    BTW, the max/min-width is a bit buggy (some elements are misplaced without refreshing) Hope these problems will be fixed without waiting for a major version bump, even if MS don’t bring in more features.

    I was more angry when I first installed IE7Beta2. Now I am much calmer. We’ll get used to it, again..

    What I propose is IE6’s should be updated to 6.5 with a mandatory security patch, with the same IE7 engine, but with the IE6 ‘skin’ :) Updating the version to 6.5 means webmasters will know what to target using conditional comments. But I guess I am dreaming!

  45. Microsoft, by not keeping Internet Explorer up to date as web development has moved into the era of open web standards, has caused web professionals all over the world a lot of grief.

    I think that right there is a major cause of all the emotion going into this debate! No matter what IE7 looks like, MS is coming to the standards party after walking out years ago. Developers have had years of screaming at IE6… then the IE7 team told us we were wrong to use hacks to get around the problems!

    I mean really, a little sensitivity wouldn’t go astray ;)

  46. I should clarify that I mean MS as an entity. I’ve no doubt there were individuals within MS fighting the good fight, but the outward-facing company just let IE6 languish.

  47. PNG alpha support and min-width max-width are to name a few good changes

    Hmm. After years of applying javascript hacks to make pngs work properly, and using more javascript to get min-width max-width working (javascript being a horribly ugly workaround to these issues) you’ll understand why I’m not off-the-wall excited to hear about these changes. These sorts of things should be included in patches, not piled up over 4 years for a new release.

    Even if IE7 is 100% perfect in every way, we still have to apply our hacks for another 3 years while IE6 is flushed out properly.

    Our designers are so sick of hearing me tell them they can’t do the site this way because we don’t have the time or budget to make it work in IE…

    While we all appreciate Chris and his team are working hard, this is a very real problem that we are forced to deal with every day. Once IE stops becoming a barrier to our development process, I’ll be happy. It costs us money - when a project goes over budget because the main navigation took extra long to get working in IE, we wear this cost or our clients do - sorry, don’t expect us to be happy about it.

    Having said all that, I’m keeping an open mind towards IE7 - If I develop a standards compliant site, and it works more or less off the bat in IE7 like sites do on FF, opera, safari then I’ll call it a good browser. If I have to double my development time like I do with IE6, then It’s just another problem that needs to be dealt with on every project.

  48. May 18, 2006 by gary turner

    Chris Wilson: My bad. As Roger suggested, I took display, a css1 property, and didn’t allow for the newer properties being from css2, of 1998.

    Please understand that while you and your team are making great strides from your point of view, they are baby steps from the web developers’. The IE7 we’re seeing isn’t as css standards compliant as Phoenix 0.5 was more than 4 years ago.

    You want a major break in developers’ attitudes? Get rid of hasLayout and all its evils, then match a four year old browser for css support.

    cheers,

    gary

  49. I really hate IE, and only use it for testing purpose, just to see if what I’m designing/developing is ok, since my first choice is always Firefox or Safari.

  50. Accessibility will be a huge challenge for businesses in the future, especially with the federal government requiring websites to be accessible to the disabled (including the blind). CheckEngine USA is in the accessability business.

  51. Since IE7 is intended to get updated from time to time, we can look forward to its standards support getting better each year. IE 7.0 may not seem “enough” to some people now but it will improve step by step.

    Encouraging MS developers and decision makers to continue down the standards path will make our lives easier in the long term. I think we can best acheive that by praising them when they make improvements (like IE6 to IE7) and helping them determine the priorities for future development.

    The prospect of standards compliance becoming ubiquitous in a decade’s time and finding ways to accelerate that process are more important to me than complaining about recent history.

    I guess that’s idealistic youth for you. :)

  52. It’s unreasonable to expect Microsoft to catch up on the past few years over the past few months.

    It might not be reasonable, but Microsoft does need to catch up with the times. A few months, cant do it? Tough, find a better group, maybe you should ask mozilla for help ;) Seems like a good bunch, they sure make quality software.

    IE is so far behind that its going to eventually hurt microsofts functionality in the global market place. More and more sites are treating IE as a browser that you add backwards compatible hacks for. The more people that think that way, the better.

    People are systematically slipping away from microsoft via the gmail / firefox / thunderbird routes. MS must be careful, because these users are migrating to superior products. You dont get these users back.

  53. May 20, 2006 by Ryan

    What I don’t understand is the aparant lack of interest in IE from Microsoft (the company, entity, whatever). Surely the web browser is one of the most important pieces of software on a computer these days and probably most used. Why they aren’t willing to invest in this like other companies are is beyond me.

  54. “I trust IE when they say that they will make a better browser.”

    Some of us have been listening to this promise for so long now it’s like waiting for personal income tax to be repealled (it was supposed to be a temporary measure when first instituted). Despite the prodigious resources ar Microsoft’s disposal they continue to lag in their browser’s development (though they keep tacking on other features (most of which others have had for years).

    “Why they aren’t willing to invest in this like other companies are is beyond me.”

    Part of the reason is that IE is no longer a distinct revenue stream and therefore not worthy of as much attention as other things that can add an extra few $$$ to the bottom line. However as it is supplied automatically with all their OS installs it has a massive market penetration. If they stopped bundling it and made it an optional download I wonder how much market share it would have against other browsers.

    Like some I have managed to do my web designs mostly without any “hacks” simply by settling for “close to the same appearance” or by using seperate design elements and browser detection. Of late I have stopped the latter and my sole concession is the new IE conditionals for one or two quirks I can’t be bothered trying to design around.

    Like Ryan, on my personal site I design it to standards and if IE has problems with it, such is the nature of the beast. Those who have commented to me about inconsistancies I have calmly explained why it doesn’t seem to look right to them. Often they go download Firefox or Opera and then come back and thank me for pointing them to an improved browsing experience.

    I’m not anti-MS or IE per se but I abhor software (or hardware) that doesn’t properly do what it is putatively designed to do. I am also tired of the corporate “do it our way because we know best” attitude that MS seems to epitomize.

  55. @Ryan: I think you might want to think a little harder about why a company like Microsoft, who makes money on operating system and applications, didn’t want to update their free web browser in the last many years.

    The fact that Microsoft is now showing progress on updating their web browser means that forces like Firefox, GMail, Flickr, Flash, may have convinced them that there’s just no stopping web application advances.

    Personally, I have not played with IE7 (I don’t have a box that supports it). From an outside perspective, it seems that improvements are being made, but they are being too cautious in not “breaking” legacy workarounds. Then again, I don’t have million-dollar sites that I need to upgrade…

  56. May 31, 2006 by Anonymous

    The IETAB is the second most useful F-foz extention behind Web Developer. It allows IE to be embedded inside Mozilla. Never open IE, but please test. Also useful at any site to ignorant (Level 0 HTML) to design for anything but IE (Though unless you count WinUpdate I don’t really visit those).

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