Common Bonds

Published 10 years, 2 months ago

A List Apart #253 brings the issue of version targeting back into the limelight with opposing-view pieces by Jeremy Keith and Jeffrey Zeldman.  (And I love the “Editor’s Choice” on this issue, J. David Eisenberg’s “‘Forgiving’ Browsers Considered Harmful“.)

I’m not going to comment on the views presented; both gentlemen do a fine job.  What I do wish to add, or perhaps to restate, is an observation about everyone interested in, and thinking or arguing about, this topic:

We all care about the same thing.

We all want to advance web standards.  We all want browsers to improve their support.  We all want better and more advanced specifications.  We all want to reduce inconsistencies.  We all want a better web.

The disagreement is over how best to get there given the situation we face now, as well as how we perceive that current situation.  A recurrent metaphor for me is that we’re a large group of pioneers trying to chart the best course through an unknown country, and there is disagreement on which route entails the least risk to the whole group.  Cross the desert or the mountains?  Traverse a swampy delta or a hilly forest?  Move through this valley or that one?

Sometimes what binds us is strong enough that the few differences seem sharper by comparison.  That shouldn’t keep us from remembering what we have in common, and the importance of that commonality.


  1. Eric, you’re right that we disagree with the method to get us where we all want to be. The issue is that the decision makers have private interests that overrule our (public) interest (since, at the end of the day, the decision will probably be made by the people who write the IE team’s checks, figuratively speaking). If this wasn’t the case, then the internal pressure for this solution wouldn’t exist.

  2. Meyer, Wilson, God, the Devil, Whomever has explicit firsthand knowledge–

    Where has it been stated, written, conveyed, in blood or otherwise, that all future versions of IE will be locked to the IE7 engine version?

    I haven’t been able to find that. Is their anyone who can and will answer that, point blank?

  3. Maybe Firefox needs a switch to disable Quirks Mode, which could be used for Web development and teaching. Would that be sufficient? Would it be simple to implement?

  4. @thacker
    http://blogs.msdn.com/ie/archive/2008/01/21/compatibility-and-ie8.aspx

    2. “Standards mode” remains the same as IE7, and compatible with current content.”

  5. Bridget–

    Thank you.

    I understand that IE8 will use the IE7 engine unless the content opts-in. My question is: where has it been stated, stated by someone with firsthand knowledge and authority or by someone with substantative basis in fact that all future versions of IE will be locked into the IE7 engine, e.g. IE9 –> Zeldman’s IE42?

    In my view, that is the question at the root of all this agnst.

    Thanks, again.

  6. quoted from comment #27 on Jeremy Keith’s article “…It”s like one of those bad relationships that you just can”t get out of.”

  7. Hopefully people will realize that this is a lot of fuss over one line of code that they can add to their templates and never think about again (though I’m against the change, that’s my plan) while they hope and pray for IE’s increasing irrelevance to bring this problem to an end.

    Dear Microsoft,

    Save yourself the time and trouble of developing IE and just bundle Firefox. Everybody wins!

    Sincerely,

    Everybody (May not include Opera Software or their 6 remaining users.)

  8. The only reason I disagree with an “opt-in to standards” trigger is simply because I already have opted into standards by writing standards compliant code.

    I don’t see it as the responsibility of the standards compliant coder to opt-in again, I see it as the responsibility of the non-standards compliant coder to opt-out!

    Why should the coder who does the right thing be forced to make non-standard inclusions in his/her code, don’t you agree that it should be the other way around?

  9. […] he’s always seemed to me to be a decent, humane bloke— so it’s not surprising that he wrote Sometimes what binds us is strong enough that the few differences seem sharper by comparison. That […]

  10. Hi Eric

    We can just let IE handle the Intranet and have the good browsers for the Internet. The good browsers are just racing ahead of there previous versions and way beyond IE7.

    Opera 9.5: The most keyboard accessible browser on the planet that just needs simple CSS to do something javascript could never manage.

    Opera 9.5 and Safari 3 (nightly builds) support all attribute selectors and structural pseudo elements. All CSS3 selectors.

    Opera 9.5, Safari 3 and Gecko 1.9 have various support for text shadow, background-size, hsla transparency, etc. Safari is the best.

    Safari 3 and Gecko 1.9 layout engines have fixed many bugs.

    Then there application/xhtml+xml, svg, much better script support, the list is endless.

    I sorry but the IE8 meta targeting is not going to stop this evolution towards the good browsers. Once the general public gets one of the these babies in there hands, there is no looking back.

    What would happen if my page had this meta IE=edge tag and it still falls for the *+html. IE7 style targeting the edge. Would Microsoft suggest to developers that we should use conditional comments for IE8. Yes we must add the elements to the HTML that allow these * * * * * to work in the first place!

  11. Opps didn’t encode.

    Yes we must add the <CC> elements to the HTML that allow these * * * * * to work in the first place!

  12. Cross the desert or the mountains? Traverse a swampy delta or a hilly forest? Move through this valley or that one?

    Well the straightest path “over the mountains or through the desert” will lead us to the end of the path because we can navigate by that big shiny thing in the sky (which in this metaphor we call web standards), go though the MS jungle/swamp/valley (where the big shiny thing is obfuscated) and you can expect to go in circles until you pop out right where you started (which in this metaphor we call 1999).

    Sorry can’t be any more straight forward than that…

  13. Why should the coder who does the right thing be forced to make non-standard inclusions in his/her code, don”t you agree that it should be the other way around?

    I agree that would be just and fair. I also believe that justice and fairness have very little to do with how things actually turn out, and that those who have historically demonstrated a capacity and willingness to do extra work (e.g., doing “the right thing”) will invariably be asked to do more precisely because of their capacity and willingness.

  14. That’s a very bleak yet very true observation.

    Thanks for sharing it.

  15. those who have historically demonstrated a capacity and willingness to do extra work (e.g., doing “the right thing”) will invariably be asked to do more precisely because of their capacity and willingness.

    Exactly. I wish life were about “fair,” but it never has been.

  16. Eric, Zeldman, PPK, as you all know, some decisions need to be made based on the future they provide. If I put something in the water today, we will all have to drink it tomorrow. The long term costs of such things far outweighs any perceived short term solution. Decisions like these need rules, oversight, full disclosure, and not to be driven by the interests of one company. This is everyone’s web.

    Many people around the web have expressed concern that this is a short term solution which does not address or reduce the long term underlying problem. Many have stated this merely addresses symptoms and will not encourage standards.

    So, which web will this break? The past or the future? It seems what people really want to know is, how will this solution both educate people and reduce the problematic amount of non-standard IE pages on the web, and promote accessibility? And secondly, when will JavaScript libraries be able to stop supporting less than or equal to IE7 DOM?

  17. […] Common Bonds […]

  18. What amazes me is that there still isn’t a rendering engine out there that’s completely compatible with the standards. The Acid2 Test doesn’t catch everything, and even Opera isn’t completely standards-compliant.

    The linked article brings up a good point: why hasn’t someone built an OSS browser from the bottom up according to the standards? Why didn’t Mozilla decide to delay FF3 and redo Gecko so that was the way it parsed webpages?

    I wish I had time to build one of these in my spare time…

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