Dougal Campbell's geek ramblings

WordPress, web development, and world domination.

Internet Explorer 8: This is progress?

Internet Explorer 8 passes the Acid2 test. Huzzah!

But waitaminnit… What’s this stuff about forward compatibility by adding some new X-UA-Compatible header to my pages or my server? Am I reading this right? Are you telling me that in order for IE8 to use its fully compliant rendering, we have to add something new to our pages? And that if we don’t, it will fall back to rendering pages just like IE7? Is that what this means?

That’s just dumb.

Screw their stupid “don’t break the web” motto. Break it! Break the web in the name of progress! How will we ever move forward if you keep dragging us back? And while you’re at it, quit trying to misdirect us with that “don’t break the web” nonsense. Putting out a browser with excellent CSS support is not “breaking the web”, it’s fixing it! There’s no real shame in putting out a better product, and admitting that the previous versions had flaws. This is a concept called “continuous incremental improvement”.

There has already been a lot of reaction from the web development community. There are several big names behind the idea. There are several big names against it. I’m not a big name, but I fall in the latter camp. This is not “forward compatibility”, it’s not “forward” anything. This is keeping progress of the Internet Explorer browser and adoption of better standards at a crawl instead of letting them make an evolutionary jump.

Oh, and unless I’m missing something here, there was already a mechanism in place that the IE team has already encouraged web developers to use, which could do the same job: conditional comments. What’s that? Oh yeah, there are problems with that, too.

If you need more reading material on this subject, check out Mark Pilgrim’s links. At the time of this writing, he has pointers to 29 articles, and I’m sure there will be more.

About Dougal Campbell

Dougal is a web developer, and a "Developer Emeritus" for the WordPress platform. When he's not coding PHP, Perl, CSS, JavaScript, or whatnot, he spends time with his wife, three children, a dog, and a cat in their Atlanta area home.
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16 Responses to Internet Explorer 8: This is progress?

  1. JB says:

    Do you think WASP will place this meta tag in the Acid Test I source? If they don’t, then IE8 does not pass the Acid Test :D

    All WASP have to do is not put it in, and IE8 and this meta tag madness can be forgotten :D

  2. OwlBoy says:

    It’s good to hear that they are working towards supporting standards. and Have Acid2 working. But sadly it ain’t surprising they managed to find a way to foul up this too.

    /sigh

    -Owl

    ps thanks for the easygravatars plugin.

  3. César says:

    Is very important, finaly and I6 its over. :)

  4. Jeff Garbers says:

    I’m hardly an expert on this stuff, but at a high level it sounds like the problem is that IE8 would like to render pages according to standards, but doing so would “break” some existing sites that had been coded in a way to expect rendering behavior from earlier versions of IE.

    Wouldn’t it be simpler if IE8 defaulted to a modern, standards-based rendering approach, but had a “This Looks Funny” button that, when pressed, would cause the page to be rendered the “old” way? It could then maintain an internal list of the sites that had been flagged as “funny” so you wouldn’t have to press that button every time you went there.

    Basically, the button would toggle the browser through two (or more!) different strategies for rendering. Users would quickly learn to try hitting that button if they encountered a page that didn’t seem right.

  5. Jorge says:

    That’s completely stupid. The software (in this case IE) should always grant retrocompatibility.
    It seems like it’s some kind of cultural problem is Microsoft: they think that all the worl shoul follow them. Nonsense.

  6. Rainer says:

    This is just another outrageous outcome of Microsofts lordly conduct. Everything they do is fighting any open standard to produce new dependent involuntarily customers. And as usual they do harm in the name of “good-will”.

  7. Pingback: Around the web | alexking.org

  8. Progress? Yes! Better then Firefox? No!

  9. Microsoft and IE are still following the same old track. Instead of finally conforming to web standards and accepting that not everyone uses IE they still tend to design their own standards, that are usually faulty and aim at domination of a single browser. Judging from the speed with which Firefox is winning customers the Microsoft’s stratefy isn’t even efficient from the vendor’s point of view.

  10. quriksmode says:

    Cant believe another IE is on the way!

  11. Billee D. says:

    I am still a little uncertain about how I feel with this situation. I know that it bugs the hell out of me to think that I have to add another tag to my sites (along with the conditional comments so that “if lte IE6″ works too). How this can be seen as progress is eluding me. I agree with Dougal though; break the web! Make those lazy-arsed “designers” update their skills and the web sites that they build to match the rest of the 21st century. I remember a time when IE had the best CSS support and now it has the worst. Either innovate or get off the pot, Mr. Gates.

    I don’t think that I have ever despised an inanimate object so much as I do IE.

    Thanks Dougal for another great read. :-)

  12. Kirk M says:

    Take heart Doug, MS just put on their tootoo, pirouetted 180 degrees and decided earlier today (yesterday?) that their so called “Super Standards” mode (the web standards compliant mode) will now be on by default and those website developers that code strictly for IE 7.0 and prior will be the ones to add a META tag to their websites in order to invoke IE 8.0’s “quirks” mode instead of the other way around if they want their MS compliant website to render properly in IE 8.

    Or so they say.

  13. Pingback: E-Dribble » Blog Archive » MS; Today’s King Midas…

  14. IE8 does not officially pass the Acid2 test. This has been debated and discussed, which was inconclusive.

    http://rutsum.com/internet-explorer-8-beta-fails-the-acid2-and-acid3-test

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