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Fragmented Development

IE8's Three Faces

There has been tons of news recently about IE8. It's extremely early in the browser's development, so take it all with a grain of salt, but it has been announced that IE8 passes the Acid2 test, which means the support for standards should be huge leaps and bounds over IE7, and completely surpassing anything IE6 could have hoped for. In effect, very good news.

Shortly after, there was an announcement on A List Apart that set off a wave of criticisms and hurt egos in the community. Apparently, to get IE8's true standard-compliant rendering mode, you would have to insert a meta tag that sets a "X-UA-Compatible" value to specify which version of IE you'd like to render your page. In effect, news that wasn't as great.

However, I've decided that I don't care. I'm working on a layout for the tourism web site that's based on absolute positioning and floats, and if I could get IE to render correctly by coding upside-down in Latin, I'd do it. Adding a simple meta tag just doesn't seem to be that big of a hassle, especially when you consider how many CSS hacks we have to employ currently to get things to work correctly. In addition, there are ways to put IE8 into standards mode without using a meta tag:

Do I like the fact that we have to make further concessions to the Microsoft monolith to get things to work? No, no I don't. I'm the first person on the anti-Microsoft bandwagon, to the point where I've switched operating systems to get away from them. However, there's one very important thing that should not be overlooked: this could possibly be the end of developers having to work around Internet Explorer, with a single added tag.

I also appreciate the IE team's desire to disrupt as little as possible with their next release. Supposedly IE7 broke a lot of poorly-designed web sites, and they are not looking forward to that kind of backlash again. This seems like a perfectly reasonable solution to keep everyone at least partially satisfied, while also not causing chaos on a large scale for people who don't do web work for a living. It's unrealistic to think that "Mom 'n Pop dot com" will be able to run compatibility checks with each new browser release, when many people are blissfully ignorant of the whole concept of browsers in the first place. IE8's rendering modes will keep designers happy, because they will have a standards-based option for their web sites, and the rest of the unwashed masses will be content because the "Internet Icon" (You know, the big blue E?) will still bring up their recipe pages without showing them just how lacking the site designer's skills are. They're worried about their lobster bisque, not the state of web standards. That's our job.

Tags: css html

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