A topic that just can’t be discussed enough is Microsoft and how some of their decisions affect us Web Developers, end users and, consequently, the entire world.
Jeremy Keith recently wrote an article for A List Apart, entitled They Shoot Browsers, Don’t They?, where he discusses the Internet Explorer team’s suggested approach with version targeting. What the talks about, though, isn’t necessarily if we need version targeting, but rather how Microsoft wants to implement it and that IE 8 will behave exactly like IE 7, unless told otherwise.
It’s a recommended read, Jeremy’s a smart and eloquent man. I do think it’s vital that we try to convince the IE team why we definitely don’t want that. My suggested solution for Microsoft is described in Version Targeting In IE 8, And An Alternative Path For Microsoft.
Is it just about principles?
Ok, so we’ve established that I, and many others, don’t find this to be the best solution. But given that IE 8 actually does what it’s supposed to in its standard mode, as opposed to its predecessors, and that it still supports conditional comments for when it doesn’t, is it as bad as we say?
How does this affect us in practice? How hard is it to put in an extra
meta tag and the problem is gone? Our code will still validate, and then we can get the rendering we want.
Getting around the
For those who want to use an HTML 5 DOCTYPE, it will render according to the standards mode even without the
meta (more about this in John’s HTML5 DOCTYPE).
But, and here’s the wonderful irony, concluded from Chris’ comment: IE 8 will not render its content with the standards mode if it doesn’t have the made-up
meta tag. However, it will deliver the content with standards mode if the DOCTYPE isn’t recognized (like HTML 5) or not widely used.
Anyone care to explain the logic in that for me? Shouldn’t unknown DOCTYPES, just as documents without DOCTYPE, render according to quirks mode? Does this mean that if I refrain from having a DOCTYPE, that’s an option instead of the
Breaking, or holding back?
Chris Wilson, and the IE team, has expressed the need of being backwards compatible and for new versions to work, with the statement:
Don’t break the web
The problem, though, is if they deliver a product that behaves exactly like the previous version, it sounds like the statement should actually read:
Don’t let the web evolve
I do understand that lots and lots of web sites are based on invalid and far-from-perfect code. But I can’t see why a document with a strict DOCTYPE can’t render as strict as its web browser environment allows it. All those web sites with legacy code from six years or more back in the past need to be updated anyway if they are supposed to be publicly accessible to people across the web (as opposed to accessible to people with Windows, Internet Explorer and not a trace of any disability).
If we’re talking about intranets, needed to work for a company to function as an organization, deliver a stand-alone version of Internet Explorer to them. Supporting web sites for a bunch of web browsers that actually evolve, and then spend an extra 25% of time to hack things around in Internet Explorer, will reach a point in time where it’s not possible to financially motivate this. The result is that web sites will stop working in IE (since it will just continue to behave like version 7 as default) and people will move on to delivering quality web sites and applications, instead of wasting time, money and lives on ensuring compatibility with an outdated an faulty product.
Microsoft, let’s make a deal
But let’s put all of the above aside. I’ll throw away my principles, and the fact that I don’t condone of the version targeting solution. Let’s try and meet in the middle and compromise here. I will add the
meta tag to my documents to make them IE 8 compatible, given that you promise, you guarantee, to work out these bugs and flaws:
Betas and who to listen too
For those who haven’t read it yet, it’s an absolute must to go through IE and the Demise of Borgzilla, written by Al Billings, who was formerly working with the Internet Explorer team. To summarize, Microsoft just have to open up for more and regular builds and having an open feedback site regarding Internet Explorer.
From my perspective, it seems like the IE team only listens to a Web Developer if he’s a member of WaSP (like, if any member of WaSP approve, the rest of the world will get down on their knees and pray). I, for one, think it’s about time they listen to a broader developer base, take part in constructive discussions run in people’s blogs, express their opinion in context. The company’s full of Evangelists; how about an objective one in an open forum? If so many people disapprove with the proposed
meta-tag solution, think outside the box; open up your minds for an alternate solution.
Time for them to show and act like they’re one of us, instead of someone wanting to tame us.