And yes, I agree that arguing can be wonderfully entertaining (wildly too :))

Peter said on August 17, 2006

Well, you're obviously right that MS doesn't *have* to make IE fully-CSS complaint, but what bothers me is it seems this is well within their grasp - it doesn't seem to be a problem with lack of skill or resources.

If companies like Mozilla, or Opera, can make browers that have better CSS support, there's no way a company like MS can't.

My main problem is that IE6's problems with CSS *do* make things harder for web-design, especially if one is learning. Usually, when you're learning a topic like CSS you'll want to use the reference; however, you'll quickly learn that it can't be fully applied to IE6, and this is frustrating. IE7 is reported not to have full CSS compliance either. Once you do a few designs, you start to get the hang of what IE's capable of and things become easier.

I'm not going to say "IE sucks, use FF or Opera" because I don't think "IE sucks" (what does "sucks" constitute?), and I also don't think it's real to expect normal, everyday people to download and install another browser when they couldn't care otherwise - it's unrealistic to expect mainstream users to have the same skill/concern as tech-saavy users.

Robert said on August 17, 2006

It's a sad state of affairs. The web could be so much more if MS made IE standards compliant as it would allow developers to produce websites much more quickly and without hacks in order to make them cross-browser compatible.

Basically what I'm saying is, with MS refusing to develop their software to a standard level they're slowing the evolution of the WWW.

Johan said on August 17, 2006

It is like nitpicking in a a haystack.

Ed said on August 17, 2006

Do remember that IE is an integrated part of the operating system ~ shdocvw.dll ~ and not a standalone rendering component. This makes it MUCH harder to amend as an awful lot of legacy applications rely on it the way it is.

I bet this thread turns into the very thing this Snook character is getting tired of ;)

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Hakan Bilgin said on August 17, 2006

Well has been a long time since I was inpired by others but I like what your writings...thanx.

PS: I tried to make comments with IE6/Windows but it didn't work so good. Perhaps you are aware of it?

Scott said on August 17, 2006

> Nice to have but I'm not going to lose any sleep over it

You've never stayed up late into the night to make sure something was working properly in IE the day before its deadline? I thought everyone had lost some sleep because of IE's CSS rendering. :)

On the whole, however, I agree with you. I mean, other than a couple of missing features and a few well documented bugs, it's not difficult to get IE to display pretty darn close to other browsers.

Chet said on August 18, 2006

I once had a teacher mention to me in art school that some of the most skilled craftsmen around, are aware of and excel at working inside the limitations of there choosen medium.

Just a thought.

J R Mortland III (Bob) said on August 18, 2006

I am never tired of arguing

adam said on August 18, 2006

Arguing is what makes the world spin! Nothing like a good argument to brighten up a day.

Macs are great, windows suck, firefox is the best, internet explorer is crap


Ismael said on August 18, 2006

I'm shocked!
Sure, IE is alright for everyday CSS / Javascript tasks, but I just spent two weeks working in a complex RIA-style interface (Javascript, fixed-positioning, Ajax, you name it). The first week it worked fine for all modern browsers except IE, and it was pretty staright fordward too, as I just followed standards for CSS and JS.
I had to spend an entire extra week just to make it work for IE, and finally I had to deploy a degraded version for that browser.
Now, that's reason enough for me to keep arguing!

Jonathan Snook said on August 18, 2006

Ismael: but you only paint part of the picture. Does it work in Safari and Opera? Did you test and fix issues in all browsers but IE during development and only try to fix IE at the end?

Part of avoiding problems is understanding the limitations of your environment.

Ismael said on August 18, 2006

Yes, I had to apply minor fixes to different browsers (Ok, Safari's javascript leaves much to desire), but all fixes where pretty much related, had a clear cause and obey to documented interpretations of the standards.

Apart from insufficient support for things like position:fixed, IE has lots of rendering quirks that a). do not follow any standard and b). only happen upon certain combination of events (bugs).

Generally, I have understood the limitations of IE's CSS and Javascript support and have managed to live with that, but then you find these things that are not only limitations but real software design mistakes and your life turns sour. True, many of these bugs are documented (somewhere, somehow) but you still have to take the extra time to find and fix those problems. That costs money and patience.

But the bottom line is: if a product is giving me headaches as a developer, it is perfectly reasonable that I complain until things get better. I'm sure MS devs wouldn't have been so motivated to fix CSS for IE7 if the developer comunity hadn't complained so much (did I get my english right?).

Sure, users don't care as long as the browser works for them, and they don't have to. We do.

Bernhard Welzel said on August 20, 2006

I will never understand why microsoft fails to "fix" the ie (even with 7.x). there is no reason why they can′t make ie all this w3c-css-standard-loving piece of software opera or firefox ist today.
as for the costs: does anybody think there can′t do it with a tiny piece of the adverts budget?
but still: i need to get angry with them, and spend my time on convincing everybody i know to use firefox. not because its bug-free, userfriendly oss. no, i make people switch because ie is broken and firefox is not - even if the can never tell the difference.
this is my way of meaning as a programmer.

joel said on August 20, 2006

The legacy problem is why MS can never (imho) actually produce a good browser. Period.

Legacy systems are a developers worse nightmare, and I will have to say, due to the lack of updates to IE over the past 5 years (while the rest of the web has gone beyond IE's capabilities) Microsoft is stuck in a position where if they update many corporate intranet sites will have to be redeveloped due to their abuse of proprietary components. If they don't, they risk losing further market share. I assume that they are scared of that because if people start looking at alternate browsers and become *informed consumers* they might be tempted to switch to other non-MS products at home, at uni, and more importantly, at the office.

Zach Blume said on August 21, 2006

Rich has a point

ChadL said on August 22, 2006

@joel: doctypes can aide in legacy support

Ever used a faucet where hot was on the right and cold was on the left? Damn frustrating experience isn't it?

Much like developing a rich internet application for the web. Ok now everyone, let's say it together: STANDARDS.

Sure, there may be little or no direct monetary benefit for MS to push money into developing improvements to IE. But what's the cost of pissing off a community of web developers?

Olly said on August 22, 2006

"are you saying that because you've paid for the product, it should therefore comply with any and all third party specifications?"

Yes, if said product claims to support a standard, then it should comply with it.

The arguing gets tiring from time to time, aye, but then it's just our competitive nature and one-up-manship isn't it?

Jeremy said on August 22, 2006

All I know is that with this IE problem (which I think IE is stupid, but not because of CSS) it gives me more job security. If everyone knew how to get around it, then I wouldn't get paid what I do.

Yuval Raz said on August 24, 2006

this is particulary a problem where i work - Israel.
since IE was the first browser to support right to left coding and visual hebrew, it has taken, and still occupies up to 97% of the market share in this state.
needless to say, most of the people i meet in the web design industry don't even know what cross-browser means as they aren't aware that there ARE other browsers.
talk about headaches...
another problem is that there is a very big problem with unlisanced versions of windows, and thus when IE7 will come out we will have to bang our heads against a large amount of browsers turning towards web-standards, and a very big amount of browsers remaining in the quirks mode because IE7 will not be installed on non-lisanced versions of windows...
time to cry HAVOC?

kiji said on August 24, 2006

Does being the marketleader give you the right or panache to ignore set standards?
What if the Toyota or Nissan, who, for explaining our point, we'll say are the undisputed marketleaders, decide to produce cars with the steering wheel on the left side only , even if some countries the standard is to have it on the right side? Toyota/Nissan can say; we're marketleaders; follow our "standards" or shove it up yours..

Steve Stringer said on August 31, 2008

You make some very good points. But I'm surprised and your position. Not for not being in the hate-Microsoft camp, but for seeming to accept without complaint how unbelievably--and unnecessarily--painful it is to get our sites to work with the various versions of IE.

The bottom line is that a disproportionate amount of the time, energy, and, hence, money is wasted in web development because Microsoft inexplicably refuses to retire older versions of IE and offer stand-alone installations. Seems that an entire development community, and its client base are paying the price because a few large corporations don't want to migrate their web sites. That's worthy of complaint, in my opinion.

I could call Microsoft hegemonic and self-interested. (I guess I just did). But I'm not a zealot that way. I am just a slightly OCD web developer who craves efficiency and for things to make sense. I just want one target to shoot, and for it to be easy to pull the trigger.

And that's all I have to say about that.

Jonathan Snook said on August 31, 2008

@Steve Stringer: For me, my laissez faire attitude comes from the context of history. The industry already had efficiency when it only had to deal with one browser that had 95% of the industry. And IE6 was a good browser when it came out. Certainly, 7 years on and we're still dealing with it is a little disappointing but it's my job. I understand the browser and its limitations and can work around them quite readily. I also understand that us web developers aren't the center of the universe. There are large corporations and government agencies that spend millions of dollars on Microsoft for things like XP, Vista, Office, and Sharepoint. Should these people be abandoned all for the likes of us? Microsoft is listening to their customers.

Anyways, I also understand the frustration that people have with IE and while we may want to look for devious plans, I believe that we have a choice and that we can exact change (which, to some degree we have). We choose the browser we use and we work to convince others, too. I think we have about another year with IE6, if that. Once IE8 comes out, it'll be hard not to upgrade.

Chris said on September 17, 2008

You're absolutely right when you imagine that you'd invest as little in IE as Microsoft seems to. That's why they get so much criticism. Microsoft is supposed to be in the business of making people's lives easier through technology. That includes the developers who have to write web pages for IE. I've wasted untold hours working around obscure IE "features", which would be non-issues if MS would fix bugs and adopt standards.

Sorry, comments are closed for this post. If you have any further questions or comments, feel free to send them to me directly.