Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Death to IE6

death to ie6Those of us who code web apps and web sites have had to deal with making the presentation layer work in IE6. Due to IE6's non-compliance with W3C Standards, this involves a ridiculous amount of extra work (i.e., hacks) to get the page to render correctly in this most outdated of browsers. We've all written CSS that contains something like this:

.foo { margin: 0px 10px; _margin: -3px 5px; }

just so things will render the same across all browsers. And don't get me started on the extra lines of Javascript needed to make things work with IE6's archaic DOM.

The problem is that these deviations from the standard now become the standard and increase the amount of time required to write and maintain code. For those of us who went through the browser wars it is, unfortunately, second nature to write in all of these hacks; for others, it's just plain crazy and not understandable. Unfortunately, since this ancient browser is still in use by a non-negligible amount of people (somewhere between 10 to 20% worldwide), we have to support it.

But not for long. There is a movement underway to rid the world of IE6. From wired.com:

Several large websites in Norway have launched an advocacy campaign urging Microsoft Internet Explorer 6 users to upgrade their outdated web browsers.

Leading the charge is Finn.no, an eBay-like site that is apparently the largest site for buying and selling goods in all of Norway (Finn is Norwegian for "Find"). Earlier this week, Finn.no posted a warning on its web page for visitors running IE 6. The banner, seen at right, urges them to ditch IE 6 and upgrade to Internet Explorer 7.

While started in Norway, this movement has gone global. An international wiki site tracks the spreading suppport; you can also follow on twitter using the #IE6 hashtag; and show your support by joining the Facebook group. Even Microsoft is supporting the campaign, issuing a statement that they hope their users will upgrade to IE7.

A global, grass-roots movement -- very cool. IE6? The bell tolls for thee.

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