Recently, I got to my attention that some people at my company were going to perform a “Firefox investigation”. What this meant was that they had built an extranet for a customer who now had requested it to work in Firefox as well (goes without saying that it was a solution that only worked in IE in Windows). With me supressing the need to exclaim to everyone involved that if they hadn’t done such a piss-poor job the first time around, it would’ve worked in Firefox already (as well as Opera, Safari etc together with other standards-compliant web browsers), I decided to call the Project Manager and talk about this.
What I wanted to do was explain to him that it was dangerous to take on the project with the mindset that it should work in a certain web browser as opposed to following the given recommendations and standards, that by doing it with the general approach it would be a much better guarantee for future compatability, automatically targeting more web browsers and easier maintenance. Naturally, every web browser have some flaws that there might be workarounds for, but in general, if you write correct code you will get very close to a web site that will work in as many web browsers/platforms as possible.
So, I called him up, and it went a bit like this:
Introduction, bla bla bla - But what you're saying is that you have the necessary skills to make things work in Firefox? - Well, yes. But I think it's really important that you follow web standards when you rewrite/adapt your code, instead of focusing on just a single web browser. - Yeees, we will try to do that... We were talking about using a so-called HTML validator in this project, have you heard of those? - Er.. Yes (wanting to scream: of course I fucking have, that's the foundation to make sure that the client-side code you use is valid!). That's part of following web standards (bla bla bla, is he getting me here?) We spoke for a while, he seemed to understand what I, as well web standards, was about, and then the call finished with: - But if we need to talk to someone, you have Firefox skills? - Yes.... (Sigh.)
The problem in our call, as with many Project Managers and System Developers alike, is that they really don’t know about web standards and how it should be done. They never heard of the importance of semantic markup.
So, for all of you out there whose mindset is still set in the browser war era (Internet Explorer vs. Netscape):
Those days are long gone. There’s a myriad of web browsers and platforms out there, together with accessibility as well as other factors that need to be taken into regard. Read this line carefully, and then repeat it in every web project you go in to:
Do not write your code adapted for web browsers, write it according to web standards.
That’s your only hope!