One of the trending topics on Twitter currently is “IE6 Must Die“, which are mainly retweets to a blog post entitled “IE6 Must Die for the Web to Move On“. This is certainly true, IE6 has many rendering bugs and lacks support for so many things that it is simply a nightmare to work with. The amount of time and money wasted in supporting this browser across the web is staggering.
In fact a few months ago the New Media department decided to drop support for IE6 on all future websites we create. The last website we built with full IE6 support was the new ArtsConnectEd, mainly because teachers tend to have little say in what browsers they can use on school computers. However, moving forward we’re phasing out support for IE6. It simply costs us too much time and resources for the dwindling number of users it has on our sites (currently under 10%, which is down 45% from last year and falling fast). We’re not alone, many other sites are doing this as well.
However calling for the killing of IE6 ignores a bit of history as well as new problems to come. There was a time not so long ago when all web developers wanted to be using IE6. The goal back then was to kill off IE5. You see, IE5 had an incorrect box model. Padding and margins were included in a boxes width and height instead of adding to it like in standards compliant browsers.
This caused all sorts of layout errors, and meant hacks (like the Simplified Box Model Hack) had to be used to get content to align correctly. These hacks were so widely used that Apple was going to allow them to be used in the first version of Safari until I convinced Dave Hyatt (lead Safari dev) to take out support for it. IE6 fixed this bug and everyone was happy (for a while anyway).
document.getElementById(). IE4 only supported the proprietary
The reason I bring this up is because we have a history of this behavior with regards to IE. We yearn for the more modern versions, only to end up hating those same versions later on. This will not change with the death of IE6. Soon, it will be IE7 that we are trashing, and then IE8 will be the bane of our existence.
This only becomes more clear as we move to HTML5. IE8 doesn’t support it, nor does it support any CSS3. While IE8 does support many of the older standards it had been ignoring for so long, having just recently been released it is already out of date. All of the other browsers do support these advanced web technologies, but IE is the lone browser to ignore them. Once again IE is two steps behind where the web is going, and severely limits our ability to push web technology forward to everyone for many years to come.
So while we celebrate the death of IE6, let us not forget that there will be a new thorn in our side to take its place in short order. IE7, you’re next.