Supporting legacy browsers considered harmful

Let's face it: as web developers, we are forced to support legacy browsers only because our clients want us to do so. Period. There's no reason to support them otherwise. Legacy browsers slow down the deployment of the web as a standard and accessible platform. With their bugs, anomalies, rendering inconsistencies, security issues and the like, they're actually a pain in the neck rather than something that must to be handled carefully. When I post some of my demos, many developers always ask the same question: does Internet Explorer 6 support this? This approach is harmful, because it actually makes us unaware of the many potential possibilities of web standards. For example, consider the case of advanced CSS selectors: for years many developers ignored them simply because IE6 doesn't support them at all. Result? Now they're rediscovering these selectors and wondering why they didn't use them before. Why? Because they wanted to support legacy browsers, that is, instead of coding to the standards they were inclined to code to the lowest common denominator (as Ian Hickson said). And this is harmful, because it doesn't force browser implementors to release better browsers (as in the case of IE6, whose lifespan is one of the longest period in the history of the web). So the point is: for a better web experience, please don't support legacy browsers. Thanks.

4 thoughts on “Supporting legacy browsers considered harmful”

  1. "So the point is: for a better web experience, please be aware that technology may change in multiple ways and, therefore, we can well have the flexibility to apply css to non-compliant as well as compliant browsers." And please don't forget that are those who can't change their browsers that easily and, as well, deserve the same or, the best web experience possible. Either we notice it or not, it seams that the "compliant way" is a path more then a jump." - That would be my conclusion. :)

  2. AMEN! Imagine how our world would be today is we still supported other outdated technologies, like steam-powered automobiles, lead-based paints, aspestos cladding for houses, 8-bit processors, magnetic-tape storage drives, and other such 'miracles of their age'...

  3. I personally believe in degradation as solution: we can give to IE6 "basical" functionality without enhanced functions or style or whatevere else.
    I even suggested, time ago on, to force IE6 to NOT to use any css except the "reset" one (no images, no style at all, no advanced features) so that ALL the site can be used but with very limited user experience.
    Since I DON'T WANT anymore support this browser (as well as the ones that are old more than 1 major version) for this browser I can grant ONLY basic functionality.
    This is seen, i.e. in Gmail where the unsupported browsers are forced to use the only HTML version.

    If customers are not happy for this choise of mine they have to know that EVERYTHING has its own price and support for old browser makes the TOTAL price increase x2 since I have to develop 2 websites...

    That's all.

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