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Author Topic: IE8 standards hack  (Read 54445 times)
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« on: February 24, 2008, 09:47:16 pm »

This post is an answer to a question that Chris Shifflet (http://shiflett.org/) has asked in phpc the other day. He asked what the PHP developers think of the new Microsoft IE8 proposition.

Recently Microsoft has announced that their IE8 engine is going to pass acid2 test once it's released. They also showed a couple of screenshots and a video showing that their new engine is handling acid2 tests just fine. This is a huge step forward from where current Internet Explorer is. There's one small gotcha with the new functionality that will come once IE8 is released. It won't magically work right out of the box, but needs a special "hack" to enable this functionality. This "hack" has started a big debate on whether this is a good or a bad thing which I don't understand. Let me explain what I mean and how I see things.

First of all for every new thing that Microsoft does there will be two camps: the one camp that loves the new stuff and the other camp that hates it.

People tend to forget that Microsoft is in a rather interesting position. They can't break existing pages. Read that sentence again a few times until that sinks in. Website owners and designers expect things to work as before. Changing or breaking an established and stable behavior is a horrible horrible thing. Microsoft is trying to do something big, to enable functionality that should have been there years ago. However if they go ahead and enable it with the current websites then things will break.

There was a great video posted on Yahoo some time ago (Yahoo hosted a small debate where several browser vendors where invited to participate in a panel): http://video.yahoo.com/watch/287660 Chris Wilson makes a great point that is still true today. There's a lot of broken websites and pages on the web. He also explains what he has to deal with as one of the developers on the IE Team. People expect things to work just as they work now.

So from my perspective this is actually a great thing that Microsoft is doing. Web designers should have control if they want to embrace the new IE8 functionality without breaking existing pages.

Tags: internet explorer  web standards  acid2 
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