Web development without Internet Explorer

As a matter of fact, for years Internet Explorer has slowed down the global development of web standards and, more broadly, the entire future of the web. For years web developers have been forced to, as Ian Hickson says, code to the lowest common denominator instead of coding to the standards. As a result, now many developers still use a small percentage of the full potential of web standards not because they don't know how to code properly, but because they're afraid of what consequences might result in Internet Explorer.

For example, all JavaScript frameworks devote a significant amount of their inner routines to mitigate the differences between Internet Explorer and the other browsers. Further, the power of CSS3 features is still underused because of the support in Internet Explorer which is still far from getting the level of Firefox, Safari, Chrome, and Opera. What's more, XML and XSLT still rely on the presence of the MSXML library to exploit all their potentialities to the full. Finally, the most advanced features of the latest DOM specifications are still a theoretical thing in Internet Explorer.

How much time we devote to rethink a full website in terms of compatibility with IE? Sure, we're talking about backward compatibility here, the same thing that should make the web look like the old, good '90s, with GIF animations, dial-up modems and no AJAX, no CSS, all tables and, if we are lucky, JavaScript popups. Do you really think your web development process in terms of backward compatibility? I think the majority of developers would all agree to view the web from the forward compatibility point of view. Do you really like the idea of writing a CSS file made up only of class and ID selectors? I guess not.

Do you really enjoy the practice of duplicating your code when you want to use XPath on Internet Explorer? Do you still like all the quirks, bugs, inconsistencies that come along with IE's implementation of web standards? That's quite masochistic, in my opinion. Instead, rethink the web in terms of new features that may be added now, today or in the future. Embrace the future, not the old, sinking relics of a bigon age when the e-mail was the only practical implementation of web communication.

In a nutshell: test in Internet Explorer, if this makes you feel relieved but code just as if IE doesn't exist.

9 thoughts on “Web development without Internet Explorer”

  1. Unfortunately, IE still has a large share of the market. In my opinion, we should code as we wish, but make sure that the output looks acceptable in IE. It does not need to look exactly the same as in the other browsers; but it must be acceptable.

    For example, we can code using rounded corners. IE will display the corners as straight. This is acceptable as the page is still readable and attractive.

  2. More and more people are now using some form of content management systems (CMS) like: Drupal, Joomla, Tiki, or Wordpress and so there is no need to have one specific browser to use. I believe, there won't be any need for web designers either and so we may not need to worry about whether something is compatible with a particular browser or not.

  3. After 5 years of taking care of IE almost obsessively I simply become frustrated by the fact that some obtuse company policies can actually affect our way of writing code. Thanks for reading my outburst!

  4. My inclination is - and has been for a very long time - to code to the spec, and then test. If a browser fails to conform to spec, it is the browser's problem, not mine, and if the page is *usable*, even if not *pretty*, that is satisfactory to me. If the browser was a widely-used one, such as Netscape 4 when CSS was initially promulgated, I might make some accommodation for it, but that accommodation would be the minimum needed to make the page usable in that browser.

    I still do this. Granted, I am perhaps not as quick to adopt new features such as HTML5 or CSS3 as I might have been in the past, but I also find that I need to make accommodation for a bad browser far less now than I did in the past. Perhaps when I need to start accounting for mobile browsers, that will once again change - but it's not yet a major factor in the accesses for the sites I code.

  5. This all depends on your clients in my opinion. I do sites for huge multinational companies who have around a 4% share of users using IE6, given that they have millions of hits every month this equates to quite a lot of users. If we suggested not supporting IE6 we would lose the contract to a company who will fulfil their requirements. If you're dealing with smaller companies it is much easier to get away with not supporting older browsers as the client often will not test in them as much as anything else.
    I still believe that it is our duty as web designers to make our sites as accessible as possible for everyone.

  6. I have always been intrested in the internet, I'm very computer savy and figured it was a good fit to use IE. Sometimes, it is useful as an addition to an already existing website explorer but that is all.

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