IE bashing?

Just after starting to write the previous entry I noticed Eric’s reaction to being blamed as heavily anti-IE. Luckily the person initially blaming Eric and Zeldman does appear to understand part of the point that they are trying to make.

While there are times when I really would like to shoot IE to the moon, or preferably to a black hole somewhere far away. But I do understand the realities and am willing to support IE. At times I may seem very anti-Microsoft, because I am, but I do try to acknowledge the good in their products as well. And I’ve even been known to give praise to IE while bashing Mozilla, imagine that. But having to fiddle around with a technology that is three years old (and is unsecure to use) does annoy me. As a software developer I take pride in creating quality code. It bothers me to make poor code just so that I can get my own code to work with some other product.

But the reasons why I – and I believe Eric and Zeldman, among others – keep pointing out the problems that can be found in the CSS support of IE is to

  • help others avoid the bugs, i.e. spread knowledge; and
  • try to push the public opinion to demand that Microsoft continue work on IE to make it more standards-compliant.

Pointing out faults in an application is not being heavily anti-this or that. It is a reality we all must work with. But that reality is not fun. One of the points the original author critizing standards evangelists made is that while they (we) keep harping about the 5-10% of users using other browsers than IE we forget that most web users do not have English as their first language. While keeping internationalization in mind is important, the two issues are quite different.

English is the lingua-franca of the web and the computing industry in general. Authors get the widest possible audience by using English. And the truth of the matter is that translating content to another language (let alone several) is very expensive. Even in our case, in which Finnish and English come naturally, the thought of maintaining a bilingual site is quite daunting.

But standards compliance in order to provide access using different browsers is not the same as internationalization. More and more we see a drive towards various devices used to browse the web. Code that creates pages that are best viewed with X and mangled with all others is not a good approach in this case. And it definitely is not solid business sense to work that way. Currently clients do not know better and thus don’t demand standards-compliant code. But that will change. And it is something I will work towards changing. There are many cases that already illustrate how standards-compliance helps save money, just look them up. Finding them is left as an exercise to the reader (the teacher in me speaks up ;).