In All Fairness … Internet Explorer Still Stinks

This is the story of how SitePoint tried to give Internet Explorer a fighting chance … and it lost anyway.

If you’ve been paying attention, you’ll have caught the subtle (and not-so-subtle) hints that SitePoint has been quietly working on a series of references, beginning with The Ultimate CSS Reference.

position property sneak peek

What hasn’t been revealed (until now) is that this reference will be released not just as a slick SitePoint book, but also as a freely-accessible Reference section right here on sitepoint.com! Our aim with this project is to produce the definitive CSS reference, both on the Web and in print.

Obviously, a big part of assembling this reference has been compiling browser compatibility information. And although our hard-working authors might disagree, one of the trickiest parts of the project has been determining how that information should be presented.

The Inherit Issue

A good example of this is the inherit value, which according to the spec is supported by all CSS properties. A little over a year ago, David Hammond’s site that rates browser standards compliance generated an uproar on Chris Wilson’s blog when it counted the lack of support for inherit as a point against IE for each and every CSS property.

Our reference will similarly indicate the level of support for each property in each of the major browsers, but what level of support do we indicate for IE, which doesn’t support the inherit value? Do we count this as a failing in IE’s support for each and every property, or do we set that aside as a single unsupported feature, and rate IE’s support of properties in the absence of inherit?

On the one hand, declaring that IE fully supports a property when one of its supported values doesn’t work could be seen as misleading. On the other hand, if the best support level we can list for any property in IE is ‘partial’, then you can’t tell at a glance when IE does fully support a property (within the limitations of its CSS implementation), and our reference becomes that much less useful.

After lengthy discussion with the authors, we decided to treat inherit as a separate unsupported feature, and to list properties that would work perfectly in IE if not for inherit as fully supported. The vote was certainly not unanimous, but I felt like we were doing the right thing by IE—giving the work that Microsoft did in IE7 a chance to shine.

Except … it didn’t

position property compatibility table

In ignoring inherit when rating property support, our intention was to enable the many newly-supported CSS features in IE7 to show up in our compatibility tables.

After all, IE7 now supports position: fixed across all elements, completing (except for inherit, of course) support for that property. And IE7 introduced plenty of other new features, such as support for the child selector (>). It would be nice for our compatibility tables to reflect this, we thought—naively, as it turns out.

Once the authors had compiled all this compatibility information, what we discovered was that arguing about the difference between ‘partial’ and ‘full’ support in IE had been an academic exercise … because the vast majority of CSS features are too buggy in IE to rate either!

The position property does support fixed in IE7, but setting this property to anything but static causes that browser to mess up the stacking of overlapping elements by incorrectly establishing a new ‘stacking context’, so we are forced to rate this property as ‘buggy’.

child selector compatibility table

And Microsoft did implement the child selector as a brand new feature in IE7, but even in this golden age of standards, this new feature came with obvious parsing bugs (e.g. A > /* comment */ B will fail to work).

After racking my brains for a CSS feature that would have newly achieved ‘full’ support in IE7 without being afflicted by bugs, I happened upon the dimension properties. width and height had serious bugs fixed in IE7, and IE7 added support for min-height, max-height, min-width, and max-width. And as of the current draft of our CSS reference, these properties are listed with ‘full’ support in IE7! Hooray!

Sadly, a little research has revealed reports of a bug in IE7 that affects all of these properties. We have yet to confirm this bug, but if it’s the kind of thing that will impact real-world use of these properties, they’ll lose their ‘full’ rating as well.

Internet Explorer Still Stinks

All this adds up to Internet Explorer making a very poor showing in our compatibility tables, despite us going out of our way to give it a fighting chance.

CSS features that we can honestly list as having ‘full’ or even ‘partial’ support in IE are few and far between (color is one, font-size is not). Most of them are ‘buggy’, even in IE7 … and we expect even more IE bugs to come out of the woodwork once we release the Web version of the reference for public comment.

Obviously, with IE7 Microsoft made great strides in correcting the most glaring and painful issues that plagued developers in IE6. But the unavoidable truth revealed by this reference is that Internet Explorer is still miles behind the competition.

Perhaps the new layout engine and other improvements coming in IE.Next will make up some of the difference … or perhaps Microsoft just isn’t interested in fixing (and in the case of IE7, avoiding) bugs that aren’t painfully obvious.

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  • http://www.tyssendesign.com.au Tyssen

    What about :hover? How’s that stack up?

  • http://www.sitepoint.com/ Kevin Yank

    :hover is another one of those features we were hoping we could show going from from ‘partial’ in IE6 to ‘full’ in IE7. Unfortunately, it’s buggy in both.

    Here are the bugs we have currently documented for :hover in IE7:

    In Internet Explorer 7, the element sometimes remains in the hover state if the cursor is moved from the element while the mouse button is pressed. Also, the hover state sometimes doesn’t apply when it should.

    In Internet Explorer 7, :hover, doesn’t match elements with negative z-index property values.

    We’re still discussing how severe a bug needs to be for us to count the relevant feature as ‘buggy’. Thoughts?

  • http://www.yellowshoe.com.au/ markbrown4

    Was ‘hasLayout’ one of Microsoft’s ideas originally – or is there something in the specifications that promted them to include this ‘feature’?

    Do you know if IE.Next will put an end to the hasLayout drama?

    Is Paul O’B contributing to the ultimate reference?

  • That One Guy

    IE has always stunk. Back in the Netscape vs. IE days, we learned to develop two sets of pages – one for each browser. Then MicroSloth talked us into the idea that since they had the biggest market share in the browser buisness, we could just develop one set of pages and mark them with “Best Viewed in IE”… For a while that was a reasonably safe policy, but with increasing Mac (safari) sales, Safari, Opera, Firefox and Netscape all available on Mac and WinTel, and many schools switching to Safari or Firefox (for security reasons) – it’s probably getting time to be okay to develop using correct, standards based code, and ignore IE… At the very least, my company is developing very simple (graphically boring) pages to be served to IE, and saving all of the cool stuff for the other browsers that really matter to our clients.

  • http://www.yellowshoe.com.au/ markbrown4

    it’s probably getting time to be okay to develop using correct, standards based code, and ignore IE… At the very least, my company is developing very simple (graphically boring) pages to be served to IE, and saving all of the cool stuff for the other browsers that really matter to our clients.

    Ouch, it’s not even close to being able to ignore IE, It’s still the most popular browser on the planet by a wide margin.

  • http://www.sitepoint.com/ Kevin Yank

    @markbrown4:

    Was ‘hasLayout’ one of Microsoft’s ideas originally – or is there something in the specifications that promted them to include this ‘feature’?

    ‘Layout’ is something Microsoft invented as a work-around to their own layout bugs.

    In cases where their layout engine often gets things wrong, they give an element ‘layout’, causing the engine to use a more simplistic, less full-featured, but also less buggy rendering mode for that element. Basically, the element is told to ignore its surroundings for layout purposes.

    Do you know if IE.Next will put an end to the hasLayout drama?

    I would expect that the new layout engine in IE.Next will do away with hasLayout. There’s just no point in writing a whole new layout engine if you’re not going to fix the problems with the current engine that make hasLayout necessary.

    Of course, the existing engine will still be present in IE.Next. Microsoft has already said developers will need to “opt in” to the new engine by requesting it in their code.

    Is Paul O’B contributing to the ultimate reference?

    You betcha! Can you guess the other author?

  • sjhanna

    Here’s a bizarre limitation of the IE6/7 CSS parser. I had a client who constantly changed her mind on what fonts she wanted for her web site, finally settling on some fairly non-standard fonts, with about a half-dozen fallbacks before arriving at the default “sans-serif” choice. To simplify editing the CSS file, I coded the line as

    font-family: Helvetica-Neue,
                 Futura,
                 Verdana,
                 Helvetica,
                 Arial,
                 sans-serif;
    

    When I ran this on FireFox (Mac) and Safari, everything was fine. When I tried it on IE6, then IE7, all the text came out in Times! It turns out that the IE CSS parser won’t accept this statement unless it occurs on a single line! What garbage!

  • Matt

    I couldn’t agree more. IE Stinks! Looking forward to reading the book!

  • http://www.afterlight.net.au AussieJohn

    Yes, Internet Explorer still stinks.

    As a front-end developer, I find myself writing separate stylesheets for IE6 and IE7 just to address bugs, some of the bugs between the IE’s are the same, while even though IE7’s rendering engine is a vast improvement over its predecessors one, there are still float, margin and position issues that require fixes.

    who knows, maybe Internet Explorer 11 or 12 will be better.. (yes, thats right, I’m not expecting anything from the IE team in a hurry, it took them *how* long to get from 6 to 7 ?)

  • http://www.cluelessbot.com zkiller

    is that a trick question??? of course IE still stinks!

    i often wish people (developers) would boycott IE. if web sites were no longer compatible with IE, people would quickly find a better solution. but one can only dream.

  • Giacomo

    IE BLOWS!!!!!!!

  • RyanR

    IE is a stinkypoo!

  • Anonymous

    Wouldn’t it just be better for everyone if MS stopped buggering up the web market and used the Firefox engine and put the development money into improving that?

    Or has the competition with MS been a factor in driving the Fox crew to ‘do it better’?

    Safari appears to be just a pest in the market as it has issues too.

    What a waste of time the whole deal is for developers. Try explaining to a not so savvy client why he should pay for hours (days) of time spent correcting browser inconsistencies. They don’t get it and frankly nor do I!

    I think the only solution is a class action by web developers to recover unbillable hours spent due to poor implementation of standards by MS. I’ll join that!

    Yani

  • pauldwaite

    Some of the remaining “stink” (excluding new parsing bugs) could be intentional, for backwards compatibility.

    Then again, I haven’t spent endless hours documenting all this behaviour, so I’ll happily defer to the Sitepoint team on this one.

  • Ronnie

    Wouldn’t it just be better for everyone if MS stopped buggering up the web market and used the Firefox engine and put the development money into improving that?

    Couldn’t agree more

  • 2MHost.com

    In Internet Explorer 7, the element sometimes remains in the hover state if the cursor is moved from the element while the mouse button is pressed. Also, the hover state sometimes doesn’t apply when it should.

    I think you over react over bugs, yes .. its bugs .. but in %99 of cases you will never note something like that, what if you noticed? nothing … but every time I’m using FF, I notice the ugly placholders of images before it load, if connection is slow .. you will feel sorry to see your favorite website or you latest design full of bordered squares and beg not to lose connection before all images are loaded :)

    guys, IE is fact of life, most of ppl use it so if IE can’t play a trick then simply do not use this trick.

  • http://www.pixelsandtext.be e-man

    For the last year or so I’ve started to ignore what IE can’t do and just code it anyway. Good browsers see the cool stuff, IE does not, or I use Javascript (mostly jQuery) to plug the holes in IE’s still wonky CSS spec.

    What bugs me the most is the fact that IE6 is still around after IE7 has been avaialble for months now. Microsoft should just remove it from the web altogether and release IE7 for ALL windows users and ALL windows flavours.

    At this rate we’ll still be holding IE6’s hand in 2009.

  • greenone

    same on my websiste. the menu works in FF/Opera, via a hack also in IE 6 but IE 7 messes it up completly… so yes, IE still sucks ass. no i have to find another hack to make it work in IE 7 :-/

  • justmeol

    Maybe its just me, but what I have noticed is that IE7 still has png problems. I created a simple gradient fill saved as full color png. Then did a screen capture from the same monitor of how it looked in IE and FF. The #222 to #333 gradient was as it should be in FF, but in IE7, the #333 had become #303030 .. which the eye easily notices. Is this something other folks are experiencing?

  • Rich

    As a designer, I can’t tell you how frustrating it is to try to fix IE6 and IE7 bugs. Yes, IE 7 still stink just like all Microsoft products. Vista included

  • http://www.sky-web.net/ Dr John

    Does Firefox have no bugs at all?
    Is Safari totally bug-free?
    Would you have a feature on bugs in either of these and say they stink?
    If you rate something as buggy, do you have some way of measuring how important or trivial the bug is – eg if it breaks a layout so that someone comparing a page in two or more browsers would say Hey look at that! then yes we have a problem, but if something takes close inspection to notice eg remains in the hover state when a particular set of conditions are met, or is quite trivial to sort (the font bug mentioned by sjhanna) will anyone notice it?

    I’m not saying you shouldn’t complain about IE – I can’t wait to see what you put online! – but there are bugs and there are trivial non-events.

    PS I use Firefox almost all the time.

  • Anonymous

    As a developer, I can say that IE still and will probably always stink. This browser brings no end to my frustration when I realise that my compliant code which looks great in FF or Opera, is complete garbage when viewed in IE.

    The worst thing is, I think I’d managed to work out all the errors to be fixed in IE6 but IE7 seems to have new bugs that need ugly hacks and whatnot. If it wasn’t for the fact that IE still is 80% of the browser market, I would just ignore it entirely…

  • Joost [Amsterdam]

    We developed a great booking application which runs like a charm in all but the IE 6 & 7 browsers. The amount of time spent on fixing the css just to let IE play nice is incredible. Took us more work to fix the issues than developing the app!
    It is by far the worst browser out there. It just plain stinks. Please lets hope that MS will learn from their bad publicity lately and develop both a descent OS and browser to run on it. The current offering is crap.

    Cheers MS for IE7 totally crapping out once more!

  • luciano991

    I make extensive use of the web developer’s toolbar in Firefox and I often forget to check my designs in IE(I’m a rookie, can you tell?). That’s when I can become seriously depressed. IE now has it’s own version of the web developer’s toolbar, and it helps, but getting the hacks to work can be a pain. If you get a chance look at Drupal’s CSS scheme. Their themes use about 7 or 8 css file using the @ import feature. The hacks for IE must have months to develop.

    I highly recommend http://www.positioniseverything.net for IE hacks. Also this tip I picked up in a forum:

    if you put # before any css tag, only IE 7 and IE 6 will read that line.
    if you put _ before any css tag, only IE 6 will read that line.

    example:

    width: 560px; /* All other browsers */
    #width: 558px; /* IE 6 & 7 */
    _width: 557px; /* IE 6 */

    just remember to keep this order.

    N.Mehrabany
    Baruzh web design & programming

    I have credited the author above.

    I agree that you can’t ignore IE but I now draw the line with versions. I really don’t care what happens in IE 5.5 or Netscape 4. Still, I don’t know why competing browsers can’t get the message that this is one place where standarization benefits all. We can dream I guess.

    Happy Thanksgiving to all.

    Luciano

  • http://www.pfwd.co.uk Peter Finch

    You could say that it is the CSS that stinks, not Internet Explorer. CSS is fine for formatting text, but it is an awfully complicated for layout. Even the examples from the experts have wierd tricks and workarounds in them and if you use it yourself you find that what works in one browser is a mess in another. Why bother when HTML will do it all very efficiently. It is a sort of religion, this adherence to standards. In many cases, as long as the website is up there and works, it doesn’t really matter whether it adheres to some standard. There have been millions of standards over the years, nearly all of which are forgotten now. This one is before its time. Once CSS works properly in all browsers we’ll give it a go (perhaps!).

  • dkeesler

    Yet, nearly 90% of visitors across my websites are still using IE. The problem is exacerbated by the fact that IE6 & IE7 interpret code differently.
    Here’s what I’m convinced of: Microsoft believes that as long as they have a 90% share advantage that developers will be forced to develop FOR IE browsers. I think they believe incompatibility gives them an advantage over their competition, so I don’t see these differences going away anytime soon — especially since they are taking big marketing hits on the OS and Office package (OpenOffice is making an impact).
    So we can keep complaining, or we can focus on better cross-browser coding solutions. Another BIG reason to NOT rely on 100% on CSS for layout and appearance. Of course, the other BIG reason is that the #2 browser (Firefox) allows you to disable the site’s CSS and replace it with your own (Yep, that’s me – I get tired of black backgrounds with tiny white fonts).
    My philosophy: 1) focus on content/service, 2) keep layouts basic and simple, 3) limit reliance on client-side technologies to non-essentials. If you want to offer a fully loaded Ajax enabled, 100% CSS driven site with sIFR fonts, etc; be prepared to offer a basic version that users can opt out for if your cutting edge page doesn’t cut it in their browser.

  • http://www.pmob.co.uk Paul O’B

    Luciano, be careful with using those hacks that you mentioned in your post as they are invalid CSS as well as being rather ugly. It is not a good idea to hack for ie7 in this way either as it is not a “dead browser” yet (although some may argue).

    If you want to target IE7 then its safer to use conditional comments and for the odd hack for IE6 you can use the star selector hack (* html {}.

  • Rudolf B

    I was shocked seeing older sites going to pieces with IE7 because I used hacks that IE6 could not read but IE7 can, with undesirable results.
    That’s a good warning against using hacks, by the way, but sometimes it is unavoidable. Luckily there is a reliable hack to preventing IE7 from understanding a css rule, so all is well again. Use this: html>/**/body #whateverid{css..}
    IE7 wont be able to read that. The first part html>/**/body is need, the rest can be any id or any seies of id’s.

    I hope this helps some of you. :-)

  • Julian Morrison

    Why not add a new classification, “quirky”. That covers properties where all bugs have portable work-arounds or only affect atypical usage. That will allow you to take features off the buggy list if it’s possible to use them, carefully.

  • Anonymous

    Kevin, no web developer that I know of is going to shout the praises of IE. Yet perhaps you need to drop the pretence and use logic. One does not cite a bug that’s not been verified–admittedly–as evidence in a conclusion that claims the bug effects all the other problems cited. And especially not in some article entitled “In All Fairness..”

    >Sadly, a little research has revealed reports of a bug in IE7 that affects all of these properties. We have yet to confirm this bug, but if it’s the kind of thing that will impact real-world use of these properties, they’ll lose their ‘full’ rating as well.

  • http://brandaggio.com/ brandaggio

    The other author, along with Paul, is Rachel Andrew, right Kevin?

    I thought I saw something about an updated CSS Anthology with the two of them too – should be a great resource.

    I just finished skinning a C# app (not impressed .NET the platform – it all seems like a bunch of half baked ripoffs of ideas implemented better with standards based technologies instead of the MS way/take) and I was surprised how many times I had to do a double take when looking at pages in IE7 as they frequently rendered differently from how I expected and differently from all other modern browsers including IE6. If it didn’t cost so much time and money to address these issues is would really just be our right laughable – (they really make a pretty cr4ppy browser by any reasonable measure) – I think at this point, instead of creating jobs/work for CSS designers, MS is hurting us by making our job/s exponentially more time consuming than Firefox or Safari do. It effects deadlines…and not in a good way.

  • TimD

    I am so glad I’ve moved away from web development at work. As much as I loved building out sites I hated having to develop for all the different flavors of browsers. Just takes all the fun out of it.

  • abigsmurf

    If you want to be fair, how about concentrating on annoying bugs in other browsers? Mozilla not rendering elements with a negative z index is a big annoyance.

    IE isn’t the only browser that requires work arounds.

  • ryan

    We’re still discussing how severe a bug needs to be for us to count the relevant feature as ‘buggy’. Thoughts?

    Here’s a good rule of thumb: If it doesn’t work as the spec suggests / how it’s expected to work, then it’s buggy. It doesn’t matter how ‘severe’ it is, this isn’t security we’re talking about.

  • luciano991

    Regarding Peter Finch’s incredible comment, well, yeah, I’ll just bite hard on this stick while you take out my appendix until they get this anesthesia thing perfected. Or hey, why don’t enterprises just go back to pencil and paper ledger books until they get the bugs out of those pesky spreadsheets. You’ve gotta be kidding me. Do we really want to go back to inline font tags and spacer gifs which prove that HTML was never intended for presentation? Haven’t you experienced developers really been hacking HTML all these years?

    Look, folks, it’s a transition period. Where we’re going is better than where we came from. Complete development with web standards is a goal, although sites like ESPN are already using it. I’m still using tables, but web standards is the future. Lower bandwidth, faster loading pages, easier content management, it’s all good. Meantime, I agree that we should avoid being dogmatic about it. My best mentor and teacher always says that working is better than perfect. The browser wars will continue but developers need to continue to urge those developers to be more welcoming to web standards. Read Eric Meyer’s books, I guarantee you you’ll be inspired.

    Also let’s not forget about the emerging world of XML. Stylesheets are a huge part of that development world.

    Thanks to dkeesler and Rudolph B and others for the great tips and for taking a practical approach.

    luciano

  • Jeff Seager

    I’m sure you’ve been over all this ad nauseum, Kevin, but IE’s failure to support INHERIT is more than a little quirk. The INHERIT value is a key concept to the whole principle of the cascade, and IE’s failures cascade accordingly. Tolerating this misbehavior in IE is like tolerating a news broadcaster with consistently bad grammar or a priest whose personal life is filled with ugly transgressions, and a little web evangelism may be in order. Thanks for keeping the faith with web standards.

  • madsamurai

    I generally figure about 4 hours to turn a design into a working CSS layout for all other browsers, and 8-10 hours on top of that to make the same thing work in IE6. I was excited about IE7 because I expected IE6 to die out rather quickly… silly me… now I just have one more browser I have to develop for separately. If IE6 would die, at least I’d only have a few extra hours of tweaking/hacking for IE7.

    It’s pretty unrealistic to consider ignoring IE completely (as much as I’d like to), but I wonder if it’s reasonable to tell IE6 users they need to upgrade to a ‘good’ browser at this point.

    As a designer, I dream of the day when I can spend my time on design, and actually make that design the same for everyone without compromising all the things that make it a good design.

    Sure there are bugs in other browsers’ support of CSS, but they are such that they typically don’t affect things. Whatever works in firefox typically works in safari and opera with little or no extra effort, but somehow always requires extra work in IE6 and/or 7, even using simple styling.

    There’s plenty that css can do that old-school html can’t touch, and as a designer I really like that extra flexibility and positioning power. It’s a shame MS won’t cooperate with the rest of the industry. I can only hope that over time people will move away from IE, to the point where web developers can ignore them without hindering so many site visitors…

    a man can dream, right?

  • Morrell Aberdeen

    What is ironic, is the fact that Microsoft’s Expression Web, developed as a competitor to Dreamweaver, has offered vast improvements in developing using CSS which Microsoft’s web browser Internet Explorer is poor id displaying. In other words, what is developed in Expression Web, may well better be rendered using any of the other popular browsers.

    Clearly, I.E’s popularity is only because it was bundled with the Windows Operating System and now one could understand the arguments against it being bundled with the Windows Operating System as customers are forced to accept inferiority.

    In that regard, Microsoft has been I.E.’s worst enemy and its competitors best friend as issues like these have customers turning away from IE on a daily basis and seeking alternatives.

    “Perhaps the new layout engine and other improvements coming in IE.Next will make up some of the difference”. That, to me is wishingful thinking. Probably the same thing was said when IE7 was anticipated. I would guess that the new engine would be as buggy.

  • Anonymous

    I almost never use IE, except for certain cases when I wanted to d/l some Youtube videos and Orbit only seemed to work under IE on my machine. I religiously used Firefox for years but went over to Opera after Firefox deleted ALL MY BOOKMARKS. That’s a serious bug. Not long ago I lost all Opera bookmarks when running an antispyware app. I’ve tried Safari too. It doesn’t suck but would need some tweaks to catch up with the open source browsers.
    Conclusion: none are perfect, but Opera is best (pages are so easy to zoom in and out with the + and – on my alphanumeric keypad: a cool cool feature no other browser seems to possess). Firefox nearly as good but that bookmark bug is a deal breaker. Safari okay but not top-drawer. IE dead last in most areas.

  • Chad

    As a software developer, but more importantly, a user of all your stinkin’ “web” sites, I wish you would drop the crap and go back to basics.

    Forget the fancy stuff and you will use little extra effort to make it work everywhere.

  • Alan

    I still don’t get why Microsoft doesn’t correct the rendering engine with patches and fixes like they do with security ones, instead of do a “massive” update with every major release.
    Firefox and Safari’s rendering engines are updated/fixed at every minor update..

    Can anybody explain why Microsoft don’t?

  • luciano991

    Perhaps Chad would be so kind as to climb down out of his ivory tower for a few moments and discuss why “software developers” haven’t come up with a perfect browser. Perhaps Chad can also explain what he means by “crap” and “basics”. As I said in my previous post, if what you mean by basics is that we should go back to using spacer gifs and inline font tags then I respectfully suggest that this is not the direction in which the world is going. CSS and Web Standards is not “fancy stuff” it is the direction of the future in web development and it is a direction for better web development practices.

  • Breton

    The IT departments at my last two jobs have standardized on IE6- For the entire organization. They are generally reluctant to even update to IE7, let alone firefox. They have a lot of homegrown intranet apps that depend on activeX, and IE6’s peculiar behavior. In particular- MS Sharepoint is an intranet tool that a lot of companies just love (I have no idea why, it’s pretty awful), and it doesn’t really work right in anything but IE6/7.

    I think if we really want to turn this around, we should try to win the hearts and minds of those IT departments and organizations. And fellas, I’m telling you, it won’t be easy. They’ve been conned into really trusting and relying on Microsoft.

  • Anonymous

    so when are we goin go file a class action law suit on behalf of ourselves and our clients because the amount of time/effort needed to fix IE bugs either costs dozens of hours of our time for no additional money or forces us to demand additional money from our clients.

  • Breton

    The IT departments at my last two jobs have standardized on IE6- For the entire organization. They are generally reluctant to even update to IE7, let alone firefox. They have a lot of homegrown intranet apps that depend on activeX, and IE6’s peculiar behavior. In particular- MS Sharepoint is an intranet tool that a lot of companies just love (I have no idea why, it’s pretty awful), and it doesn’t really work right in anything but IE6/7.

    I think if we really want to turn this around, we should try to win the hearts and minds of those IT departments and organizations. And fellas, I’m telling you, it won’t be easy. They’ve been conned into really trusting and relying on Microsoft. They’ve sunk a lot of money and effort and time into microsoft products, and convincing them it’s all a pile of crap will be an uphill battle because of that.

  • Ben

    On the last few sites I’ve done I have bitten the bullet and gone full CSS. Frankly, it hasn’t been worth it and I’m all but convinced I should return to tables with CSS for the few things that seem to work well across the major browsers.

    Yes, the old transparent spacer GIF was, and still is, a PITA and the nested tables do horrid things to render times, but within its well known and understood limitations a table-based layout “just works” across browsers and various operating systems. Anything beyond the most rudimentary CSS based layout requires various CSS hacks and/or CSS tailored to specific versions of IE. We replace the headaches of intermixed content and design with the headaches of multiple CSS implementations and the joys of keeping IE6 (and earlier) on various machines or VMWare images or running the various versions of IE under Wine on Linux. Great.

    What I plan to do on my next project is to do the layout/content separation within PHP, thereby saving myself some of the grief that comes with intermixing and hopefully getting the majority of the benefits that are promised but undelivered by separating layout from content with HTML and CSS.

    As someone else suggested ignoring IE is awfully tempting, but just not practical under most circumstances.

    – Ben

  • bmanam

    As a professional software AND web developer (yes Chad, we do exist…) I have always tried to push the boundaries in all my apps but all my web-based apps have had the dreaded IE issue to contentd with and it’s always been a nightmare! Recently I’ve convined a couple of clients to put in place an enterprise-wide rule/strategy regarding the use of Firefox/Opera when using web-based apps I’ve developed and 100% of them have not only not switched back to IE for using my apps but installed Firefox/Opera at home on their own computers and have done nothing but sing it’s praises. I primarily use Opera but the debugging features (firebug, etc.) in Firefox make it a developing must-have. Opera FTW!

  • Anony

    I, as a web developer, have begun taking up the following approach when dealing with clients who contract me for new/updated websites.

    If it is a tech savvy client (one who understands websites/computers/internet well) I propose the idea that I create their project as outlined but the design be standards compliant only. That is, I do no work related to IE fixing/hacking. Instead, IE users get left behind with their awkwardly rendered and/or broken pages and every other browser user sees everything perfectly fine. The client receives this work at %40-%50 of my normal rates and of course a message in placed in the footer or elsewhere (if it is an IE user) telling them the site is designed correctly but that IE is their problem and then linking to other browsers. If the client does not like the idea or is not tech savvy then the large extra cost of developing for IE is simply passed on to them. Nearly every client has opted for supporting IE over the past two years though just recently convinced two against supporting IE. In this day and age there is no reason you should be stuck using IE. That is…

    …Unless you’re stuck in a situation such as Breton described. A moderately or large sized business with an IT department and computer systems stuck in perpetual 2001-2003 era state using Microsoft based services/applications which depend on IE. Tough situation there, as eventually the system(s) will need to be updated…hopefully they’ll learn from the mistake of using with proprietary systems.

    For me, easily just as much time is spent each day (if not more) fixing IE rendering problems and creating unique stylesheets for IE as is spent creating the initial compliant designs (which of course work everywhere but IE 99% of the time). I find it completely ridiculous and unacceptable that IE is not up to par. They have been aware of these problems for YEARS. It’s not fair to anybody and there’s nothing right about it. I can only hope change is on the horizon.

    And whoever said that it’s a problem with CSS and that we should just use HTML… you obviously have no clue what you’re talking about.

  • Ronnie

    if what you mean by basics is that we should go back to using spacer gifs and inline font tags then I respectfully suggest that this is not the direction in which the world is going.

    Oh man you gave me a terrible flashback :)
    Maybe Chad is an IE developer, but hey not our fault if IE sucks.

  • Martin

    Ie is good browser. I’m currently using ie7. Everything looks good and works fine!

    People who waste their time trying to make the perfect liquid layout will soon realise… It’s not IE that the problem…css sucks.

    Long live XAML,css can go screw it’s self.

  • Jose

    “And whoever said that it’s a problem with CSS and that we should just use HTML… you obviously have no clue what you’re talking about.”

    Wrong. Wrong. Wrong. IE may be buggy, but it’s not backwards. I’ve been developing world-class web sites for years, and rarely do I have to spend longer than a few days fixing things for IE. One in ten times, it looks perfect in IE, 3 in 10 I have a few small bugs, only when I’m braving new design fronts is it totally broken.

    Look, I hate IE. I hate it. I know every bug like the back of my hand. I’ve seen them all. But once you know them you can avoid them. So don’t put text shadows on your words. No position:fixed unless it’s important enough to use the overflow hack.

    Smarts. It separates pros from pioneers, and it’s not that difficult of an obstacle.

    IE is the biggest browser out there. Anyone who says they don’t support it because it’s buggy is someone I would never hire. The status quo is rarely up to speed with the trend setters and the in-the-know… if you don’t understand that then it’s your problem, not ours.

  • http://www.afterlight.net.au AussieJohn

    @Jose:
    I agree – we need to support IE as long as it remains a browser with such a wide user base.
    We can only hope that now IE7 is on the rise, we can drop support for IE6 in a while. Because once the user base for IE6 becomes at a low enough point, it won’t be worth the development time to fix things so they work the same, we can then completely justify degrading things for that browser. (with some websites we already do, or have to, simply because the features on the website can’t be supported by IE6 without performance impacting hacks)

  • dkeesler

    to bmanam: if you’re developing for a captive audience (corporate intranet, etc) yes, you can convince the powers that be to ignore IE – but that situation is the exception rather than the rule.

    to anony: I have no idea who you are developing for that your professional advice could be to ignore 80% of the client’s prospective market. If your developing sites/services to be consumed by a worldwide general audience, you might be able to ignore 2 or 3% that fall through the cracks, but not 80%.

    However, many of us develop for private businesses. Many of these are small to mid-sized local businesses. Clients are often wanting to use their web presence to increase market-share in their local niche market. When you are already ONLY targeting Akron, OH users, for example, these clients don’t want A SINGLE prospect falling through the cracks because of a design issue. In fact, many of these clients are wanting sites to be cell/PDA accessible as well now.

    You might ignore IE and undercut my prices and take 3 clients from me. But when my 1 client is taking marketshare from your 3 clients, they will soon fire you and come knocking on my door. Do what’s best for the client, and it will pay off in the long run – even if it’s harder work in the short term. It’s all about ROI. If your client doesn’t understand your rates – SELL THEM!

  • Anonymous

    How did display: inline-block rate? It’s one thing IE seems to do better than the other browsers.

  • http://www.yellowshoe.com.au/ markbrown4

    I’m shocked at how many people refuse to support IE, who add hours and Days to their invoices to support it. When you inspect even the most complex of layouts, they are just a collection of simpler components and they can all be built using very simple CSS properties. Other browsers have only recently started to support the more advanced properties of CSS, while IE is behind – You, as the professional developer should Know How To Use the simplified CSS model that IE does support. I spend very little time hacking for IE – If I had to support the broken box model still – that would require extra hours, but even now – with all of IE’s shortcomings – it’s still quite possible to build complex layouts without any hacks at all.

    Saying that, I would love to be able to use the advanced properties of CSS and have better support – but this is a separate issue.

    Is Paul O’B contributing to the ultimate reference?

    You betcha! Can you guess the other author?
    Excellent! Very good move on Sitepoint’s part, I don’t know anyone better suited. There’s so many that could contribute.. Rachel Andrew, Jina Bolton, Jonathon Snook, Eric Myer, Dan Cederholm – Can you be the inside informer?

  • phpimpact

    The guy who invented the table tag is a genius, it proved to be less problematic… no one ever complaint about them.

  • http://www.sitepoint.com/ Kevin Yank

    @Anonymous:
    Here are a few choice snippets from the entry about display regarding inline-block:

    Internet Explorer for Windows up to and including version 7 only supports the value inline-block for elements that are naturally inline or have been set to inline outside the declaration block.

    Firefox up to and including version 2.0 do not support the values inline-block, inline-table and run-in.

    Our compatibility table currently shows Safari 1.3+ and Opera 9.2+ as having full support for display.

  • Anonymous

    meh, I have been able to succesfully make any layout I have tried using 100% css and have found IE7 to be far better than when I was doing the same thing 2years ago for IE5-6.

    IMO that is a lame post, who cares about a few features, all that matters in the business world is can you make full CSS websites using the browser and the answer is that you can – easily.

  • w3 fan

    What about HTML support? Not all the tags are supported. How does that make any sense?

  • colinmcc

    Kevin Yank,

    If the book hasn’t gone to proof then

    “Firefox up to and including version 2.0 do not support the values inline-block, inline-table and run-in.”

    should be changed to

    “Firefox up to and including version 2.0 does not support the values inline-block, inline-table and run-in.”

    I look forward to the book, I’ve bought and devoured every single one that Sitepoint has published so far… (sad..eh?…)

  • lexpresso

    What’s worse about IE blowing so bad is that those b’s at MS are probably making money out of the deal! I wisht there was some way to take out my frustration on them. How do we turn sink IE for good. Can someone organize a campaign! thanks.

  • locka

    Thank you for the article. All valid points that had to be said.
    As a developer I wish IE7 had never been born. It just makes developing sites that much more difficult and time consuming.
    Unfortunately thanks to automatic updates when MS sneezes the whole worlds desktops catch the flu.

  • use your ****ing heads

    anyone who still uses IE deserves the pain (and the security holes)

  • @lexpresso

    How do we turn sink IE for good. Can someone organize a campaign! thanks.

    i guess you didn’t get the memo…there is a campaign and it’s called “get firefox

  • Josh Steenmeyer

    It’s only a web browser, people use Internet Exporer to do some light escape surfing and pay bills. Hell, I’m still using IE6 and could give a rat’s butt if I’m not cool because it’s not firefox.

  • Belfast75

    it’s probably getting time to be okay to develop using correct, standards based code, and ignore IE…

    Seriously? I work on an eCommerce site, if I did that we’d lose 90% of our potential market and I doubt if we’re unique in that.

  • Jesse

    @Josh Steenmeyer: It’s not about being cool. Its about getting less virusses and spyware (IE likes virusses and spyware). Also with either Opera or Firefox websites are shown the way they should be.
    I’d recommend Opera, its a safer browser than IE or FF.

  • Anonymous

    luciano991, how horrible just use conditional comments to load an ie6 and an ie7 stylesheet and put normal css in them
    MS did one thing right at least

  • Ralph Bacon

    I’ve only been web-coding for 3 years in a corporate IE-only site. Imagine my horror when I discovered all those techniques I had learned at work would not translate for my personal web site at home (I use Firefox and IE at home).

    I’m now having to revisit my corporate Intranet sites so that I can get them to work cross-browser – after all, they will implement IE 7 soon and even that breaks some of my work. They might even decide to standardise on Firefox one day and then I really will be up the creek without a paddle.

    I’m really frustrated and disappointed at MS misleading so many developers…

  • bloodofeve

    I can’t wait for the new book, what a great idea.
    As for IE I fell out of love with this product when I discovered Firefox and Opera. Ok so MS has 90% of the world population under it’s spell, but as they say ‘From small Acorns grow Great Oaks’ the word is spreading and people are realising that there are better alternatives to IE. MS has always had this attitude that because they have the market share they can produce buggy systems which they fix as they go along, users are becoming wise to the fact that not everything that MS produces is great VISTA springs to mind at this point – usability doesn’t always mean that the product is better if it ain’t broke don’t fix it.
    I’m sure that this discussion will still be going on in 10 years time, but was compliance becomes more important we as designers should strive to produce the best material that works in most browsers – not just so that it is perfect in IE.

  • bob

    another bug in IE, the classname1.classname2 css selector.
    In FF this works just fine, but lets say you have 3 elements, ele1 class=”classname1″, ele2 class=”classname2″ and ele3 class=”classname1 classname2″.
    In FF, you can different layouts for each of the elements, but in IE, if you use classname1.classname2, to get the third element, the other elements will change as well.

  • http://www.pmob.co.uk Paul O’B

    @bob – That multi class selector bug has been fixed in IE7.

  • http://www.sitepoint.com AlexW

    anyone who still uses IE deserves the pain (and the security holes)

    So, are suggesting we should write a CSS reference, but remove all reference to IE since we don’t use it?

  • leeschen

    markbrown4 wrote:

    Ouch, it’s not even close to being able to ignore IE, It’s still the most popular browser on the planet by a wide margin.

    And it will remain so until we, the developers stop catering to Microsoft’s corporate ego trip. I have begun writing straight compliant code with minimal hacks for IE6. When web-surfers finally realize that their favorite websites can be seen best in FREE Firefox and Opera, Microsoft’s dominance will slowly (too slowly) erode. As their market share freefalls toward zero, maybe MS will finally awake from its slumber and write some real code. But maybe I dream.

    Lee

  • randal

    couldn’t agree more!

    IE is the worst browser ever, bar none!

    I spend half my day fixing bugs in IE, after my code works as designed, per the specs in all other browsers.

  • Jack

    @Josh Steenmeyer:

    This is a post directed at web developers. It does make a difference to us what browser you use since they all support web standards differently which makes us have to jump though various hoops to make things look acceptable on your browser of choice.

    And yes, you’re not cool since you use IE6, the bane of my professional existence.

  • locka

    Another point of view is that IE is making me money as I factor in the development cost to make each project work with IE as well as other browsers. I’m sure most of the development community has picked up work cleaning up websites because of IE’s lack of standards.

  • Joshua Richardson

    I can only hope for the eventual demise of Internet Explorer or Microsoft itself, its as much of a pain to have to create three external CSS files – one for for the browsers that actually follow some kind of standards and two for IE 6 & 7. This spills over into JavaScript implementations that simply make developing a rich interface a pain.

    What I cannot honestly understand is why they don’t just address the most important issues (inherit would have to be a fundamental one simply for the Cascade in CSS) and release these as mini patches – after all they do it with all their other software.

    Until Microsoft clean up their act or their browsers dies out completely we will always have a list of things that don’t work and archaic non-compliant ‘features’.

  • Tone

    I hate IE – and I’ve also noticed that Safari has a few bugs when it comes to displaying CSS layouts. More to the point, when are software companies going to start developing for Linux/ Unix platforms so we can all escape from the grip of Apple/ Microsoft? Don’t get me wrong – I do think OS X is a good OS, but I don’t want to be forced to use it just cos I need photoshop…

  • Ally

    IE7 is definitely not up to par, yet!

    As a front-end developer, I was thought to design for the good browsers but make sure it works “well enough” in the not so good browsers. My instructor used the analogy of HD cable signal being viewed on a HD TV compared to a regular TV. You can still view the picture but the quality isn’t the best.

    I follow this method when creating designs as I am sure other front-end developers do as well. But I still find it frustrating that sometimes the simplest things won’t render as they should on IE, which is used by over 90% of the visitors that visit my companies website.

    And so I am looking for to sitepoint’s reference.

  • JFred

    What doctypes are you using that you have all this pain? And does changing the doctype to HTML 4.0 strict make the browsers more alike.

    I use HTML 4.0 strict for a lot of things and it avoids tag-soup and quirks-mode problems. But I haven’t switched site back and forth to xhtml transitional to see if the browsers diverge more…

    JFred

  • liam

    am i wrong, or did IE4 and IE5 have better dynamic HTML support than their competitors? It wasn’t until Mozilla became stable (remember Netscape 6.0?) and IE became stagnant that you could say that IE sucked.

  • Anonymous

    Why is IE 7 so standards-incompliant? There is a limited amount of resources (programmers), and CSS 2.1 support falls relatively low on the ladder–it should be obvious that its security and usability failings come at a higher priority than complying to standards. Many argue that it should just start from scratch, which is not an easy thing to do: if it visibly breaks old sites, people will complain or, worse, stick with the old version. See the problems with Vista–MS badly needs to just cut off the backlog of backwards-compatibility, but in doing so, it is no longer viable.

    Also, marking every attribute buggy if there exists one bug is unfeasible. Probably well over half the visual formatting models will exhibit bugs in the most obscene environments; it violates the specs there and so would be called a bug despite the fact that it works in all realistic settings.

  • dougoftheabaci

    I just want to address some of the things the previous poster from me said about priorities and backwards compatibility.

    First, on security over CSS support, for the most part a great deal of the security can be done on the OS side of things, not just in the browser. Relying on your browser to make your computer secure isn’t going to work as you can always find a way around it, usually simply by hiding your stuff in the right user action. Security, I feel, isn’t the main job of a browser. The job of an internet browser is, as the name suggests, to allow users to browse the internet and do so in the best way possible. The way to do this is to allow them to view sites correctly, that being in the way the designer and developer who created it intended. With the major shift to CSS over other forms of layout, and with the power CSS has to help deliver content in a visually effective way, it’s extremely important for the browser to get it right. Else the user will not stay on the site and the content will not be viewed.

    As to backwards compatibility, the majority of the other major companies I can think of off the top of my head, Adobe and Apple for example, have had very little problems with backwards compatibility. Of course older versions never have accessibility to new features, but beyond that the results have almost always been acceptable. And in the reverse, old formats in new apps, Adobe is excellent in my experience, as is Apple. Why should Microsoft be held to a different standard just because they are Microsoft?

    As for the article, if a browser doesn’t fully support a feature, it should say so. Remember, this isn’t for users, it’s for developers and designers. We already know IE, be it whatever form, is broken. What we’re going to be trying to figure out is how broken it is. When I look at a support list for a browser I want to know if it works or not, if yes great, if not how bad is it. If I see that a feature is listed as fully supported when that browser doesn’t support one part of that feature on all features, I might think it’s fully supported all together, not knowing something is missing since I wasn’t previously aware of it.

    If Internet Explorer 7 has earned a bad rating because it’s badly supported then it should be given one. Everyone heard how great IE7 was going to be and how many problems were going to be fixed only to find our hopes dashed on the rocks like so many wayward ships. Microsoft is the largest technology company in the world, they certainly have the money to build a good browser. Go to http://www.macupdate.com and http://www.download.com and see how many other people have created browsers for the Mac and PC, there are hundreds, all of which have better support than IE7.

    I almost think Microsoft would be better served by packaging Firefox with it’s OS instead of IE as Firefox, while by no means perfect, is a very well supported and very stable browser. And, from what I’ve seen around the net of other’s opinions on the matter, it’s one of the leading browsers on all accounts in both security and web standards compatibility, something no version of IE has yet to master to such a level.

  • jpa

    To whoever complained about firefox deleting his bookmarks… I had the same experience when testing an alpha build of ff3, which removed all my bookmarks, also from ff2. But then I noticed that firefox keeps several backups (5) of the bookmarks in [home]Application DataMozillaFirefoxProfiles[profile]bookmarkbackups

    Very thoughtful of the developers. :)

  • Foolish

    Why dont u use VS studio 2008 to develop ur pages and ask the compiler to compile ur pages in different target browsers then u dont have any othe silly dumb issues like u are talking in here…. Hint to be smarter in what u do..wanna be IE bug free…Use IE tools to develop IE web apps … is it a common sense one should have..!???

  • Paul Clark

    When developing CSS, Firefox is always my primary browser – mainly because of Firebug. Tweaking for IE7 is usually pretty quick; IE6 takes longer, and I will often make BIG changes for IE6, such as going liquid in Firefox/IE7 and fixed width in IE6.

    I use conditional comments to insert additional named DIVs around my whole page for the different versions of IE, so that I can target styles with dependent selectors and avoid hacks.

    One funny thing I notice is that quite often when Firefox renders ‘correctly’ (i.e. what I wanted) and IE7 doesn’t, a lot of digging will uncover that I have made an error in my CSS. It seems that Firefox is more tolerant of some syntax errors than IE, and I wonder how much of the vitriol directed at IE comes from developers who are blaming it for their own errors – errors that Firefox has protected them from?

  • Anonymous

    Interesting read and good comments too. I have been designing sites for almost 10 years now. I love the what CSS brought to the table and what you can do now to what you could do before. I think I’m like other designers out there when I design a site I knowing what limitations IE has and I design around that. Once you learn the hacks that are out there you can get around pretty fast.

    I wish they would fix IE7 and make it the browser we where all hoping it would be. Just for the fact that they would have a good base to work on IE8 for and keep with standards. Now we have to hope they give it priority and finally get with the program.

    BTW IE isn’t going anywhere. I’m lucky enough to work on a major network company’s website and intranet website. They still use IE as the standard browser even tho every person I have visited or walked by at the company is using FF. Funny stuff.

  • Ronnie

    It wasn’t until Mozilla became stable (remember Netscape 6.0?) and IE became stagnant that you could say that IE sucked.

    Absolutely true but it was long time ago. Wasn’t it?

  • leeschen

    Many argue that it should just start from scratch, which is not an easy thing to do: if it visibly breaks old sites, people will complain or, worse, stick with the old version.

    The only old sites that will break are those that are not standards compliant. The longer we “bend over and spread ‘em” for Microsoft, the longer it will take for the web to blossom into providing the kind of user experience it can provide. We, as a group, waste so much time hacking for IE6 and IE7, that our creativity is stifled and our offerings lose the luster and appeal that they should provide the user. I found it incredibly frustrating until I decided to go with a[n almost] straight standards approach.

    I write to the XHTML Strict 1.0 standard, add a few standard and well known hacks for IE6 (totally ignoring IE5 and earlier) and I’m done. IE7 will tag along, getting most right and some wrong, nothing that prevents the user from getting the message, but the formatting ain’t always perfect. Tough!

    If we would all do the same, call a web developer strike, so to speak, I wonder what would be the outcome? Could we fell a giant?

    Lee

  • dougoftheabaci

    Everyone here should read “Transcending CSS” by Andy Clarke (http://www.transcendingcss.com/), it’s a great book which deals with this kind of stuff, specifically how designers and developers should develop for better browsers, only stopping to ensure that their sites work for the worst (read: IE) but allowing the best (read: Opera, Firefox, Safari, et all sans IE) to have the extra functionality and visual styling they support so well.

    He has a bunch of reasons for this, and is a big part of what the book is about, but one of them is that people in a technological age understand that if you don’t have the latest piece of software you can’t expect to have all the benefits you would have if you did and that as long as you aren’t denied the information, they’ll tend to accept that it isn’t as pretty or as functionally sexy (within reason).

    Great book.

  • achtungbaby

    This article wasn’t exactly a revelation to front-end developers. It’s been out for over a year now and Microsoft indicated right off the bat that IE7 wouldn’t be supporting a number of CSS 2.1 properties.

    Maybe I need to dream bigger dreams, but I was just thrilled that IE7 fixed so many of its bugs in IE6. Even better, when using a valid doctype (I’d recommend strict), you can avoid even more bugs in IE6 as well as IE7.

    So the reality is this:

    1) IE7 isn’t going anywhere. It doesn’t contain enough bugs to warrant corporations from dropping it, even moreso when industry leaders like Yahoo announce they offer A-grade support for IE7 as well as IE6 (if they can, why can’t you?)
    2) IE7 will not support CSS 2.1 — ever, probably. Microsoft has never fixed its CSS bugs in the past, and they kinda made that clear with IE7 by saying that “layout was finished” last year.
    3) You should know exactly what valid, standardized HTML/CSS. Microsoft was smart to introduce conditional comments to prevent us from hacking ourselves to death.
    4) It is up to Firefox and Safari to further differentiate themselves from IE. Microsoft knows that they only needed to be “mostly” standards compliant to satisfy the majority out there. They already have tremendous odds stacked in their favor. Will history repeat itself (IE v. Netscape)?

  • dougoftheabaci

    I disagree.

    (1) Not true. Firefox may not be the major browser of choice in the US, but it’s quickly going that way in Europe, In Germany it has taken over as the leader. If it doesn’t get it’s act together and browsers like Firefox and Safari, heck even Opera, if they keep up making free better browsers that are so amazingly better than IE then it will get to the point that they’re the browser of choice over IE and one of the first things the normal user will do when they buy a computer, like us smart people, is bag IE and download a good browser or two.

    (2) I can’t argue with this one. I agree. I just really really wish it wasn’t the truth. Can I just lie to myself on this one and say Microsoft will get it’s act together and stop hurting the web?

    (3) The problem isn’t that we don’t know standards based code or semantic coding techniques or any of the other things the W3C tells us to do. The problem is IE ignores them. The W3C says one thing, the web agrees, and then Microsoft says, “Oh, but that can’t possibly be meant to apply to us, can it? What a silly thought!”

    (4) As it stands now, you’re right. But that will change, and that is only a matter of time. As the world becomes more computer literate (remember they’re not really that old, the net even younger especially in the way it is now) people will start doing things better.

  • achtungbaby

    (3) The problem isn’t that we don’t know standards based code or semantic coding techniques or any of the other things the W3C tells us to do. The problem is IE ignores them. The W3C says one thing, the web agrees, and then Microsoft says, “Oh, but that can’t possibly be meant to apply to us, can it? What a silly thought!”

    Well I kind of think the W3C opened themselves up to that with CSS2 and then the revisions CSS2.1 brought. For example, IE7 still supports “font-face” as well as a few other things that were part of CSS2 but then removed with CSS2.1. Also keep in mind that CSS2.1 hasn’t even been fully approved by the W3C itself. It’s still in the candidate recommendation stage. And as the W3C says, “Publication as a Candidate Recommendation does not imply endorsement by the W3C Membership. This is a draft document and may be updated, replaced or obsoleted by other documents at any time.”

    It’s not easy to develop software when the standards keep changing, or if they come too late: CSS2 was approved/recommended in 1998. You would have thought that a revision could come sooner, at least to coincide with the launch of the biggest browser in the world. Microsoft is always slow to do anything and when it finally does something, it certainly doesn’t want to have to go back and fiddle with it all over again. Contrast that with Firefox 2.009 (and I just received a notice that 2.010 was out). I’m not saying one is better, just that it’s not always black and white.

    And regarding our collective ability to follow web standards, here are some of the results from a study conducted last year. Sites were selected randomly from the Open Directory Project:

    * Only 39% of pages use a valid DOCTYPE;
    * Only 2.58% of the pages were HTML or XHTML valid;
    * Only about 67% of the pages used any form of CSS
    * The fourth most common error amongst that sea of invalidity was forgetting to close a tag;
    * The top five most common CSS declarations: color, font-size, font-family, text-decoration and font-weight, otherwise known as the stuff people use to style up their myspace pages.

    And reading some of the comments in this thread, I’m less surprised that there are as many folks out there who either want to throw standards out the window or want to continue using good ‘ol tables.

    Sometimes I think the fact that Microsoft did budge on agreeing to any standards was obviously Firefox’s success, but also due to the noise made by the Web Standards Project et al. Unfortunately I guess the rest of us are still the silent majority…

  • dougoftheabaci

    I agree with what you’re saying about how not everyone does what should be done, heck there’s still major wars between people wondering if you have to write valid code or not. Some people think it’s a waste of time and money. The rest of us know it’s not.

    Seriously though, just because a portion of the people do it wrong does that mean we should accept that it’s the way it is? No web designer out there, new or old, can deny that it’s getting better. Oh, and CSS2.1 first saw the light of day back in 2004, that’s 3 years for them to sit there and go, “Gee, do you think this is going to be important?” It’s been around long enough for them to realise that it might be worth supporting. Also, they’re already trying to get CSS3 out the door. CSS2.1 isn’t going any further but is official in all but name I’d say. It was only meant as a quick solution to the issues that were raised when CSS2 didn’t have all the things developers had been screaming about to be included.

    Anyway, to say it’s not supported just because of the W3C is almost worse in my mind because that means that Microsoft is only paying attention to one source when they should be looking at what designers and developers in entirety are asking for and not just the W3C. A company like Microsoft isn’t yet so mighty that they aren’t threatened by others. Google has stolen large portions of their thunder and Mac isn’t doing a bad job of it either. Not to mention Firefox and it’s growth.

    Just because it’s Microsoft doesn’t mean concessions can be made. If anything they should be judged more harshly since they are the one leading the pack, for better or extremely worse. Microsoft has the ability to do what everyone else is doing, more so since it’s Microsoft. Having Microsoft come out with a browser like IE7 is like having Porsche come out with a 911 that looks like a pimped out golf cart. It’s got some new style, however questionable, and the extra bits under the bonnet don’t make up for the fact that it’s still only a golf cart.

  • dkeesler

    there are as many folks out there who either want to throw standards out the window

    I don’t think anyone wants to throw standards out the window, but don’t you find it a bit ironic to be using a term like “standards” in the phrase “..the standards keep changing..” It’s a bit of an oxymoron, isn’t it?

    The problem is that they are working TOWARDS a standard, but they aren’t there yet. And if you code “standards” compliant, but then with every revision have to go back and edit 10 projects to make them compliant again, how is that less of a headache?

    I agree with the others who said to use valid doctypes, write valid code, and stay away from the bells and whistles like PNG transparencies, z-indexes, and other elements that haven’t been standardized yet. You will have far less problems.

  • http://www.woventhorns.com OneSeventeen

    I for one still love basic web design using simple implementations of common standards. I usually don’t have too much of a problem with IE6 or IE7 unless I want to do something fancy.

    TBH, I don’t rely on web design for an income, so I only accept clients that are willing to have a standards-based site, which usually means giving up a bell here and a whistle there.

    If I were to be purely emotional about it, I’d specifically design standards-based sites that looked incredibly boring in IE and great in Fx, but that would unfortunately be childish. Instead, I find it best to continue to support Fx over IE verbally, but still develop for both. At least IE7 is more secure than IE6, and it isn’t as much of a hazard to run it.

  • Parag Desai

    You can try using Other Alternate Browsers, if problem is really with your Internet Browser or the system.

  • dougoftheabaci

    Parag, the issue here isn’t that we don’t know IE sucks. We’re developers and designers for the web; we KNOW it sucks. The issue is that the majority of users (40-80% depending on area and demographic) are IE users thus we have to develop for them as well.

    What we are saying is just because we don’t use it doesn’t mean others don’t as well. Because of this, as responsible developers and designers, we have to support them, even if they are wrong.

    We’re griping because the largest browser in the world, which has the most responsibility to the web because of this, is the worse by a margin that is, quite frankly, pathetic. We’re just running the numbers and sharing them with the community.