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Tyssen
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Its good for the people are

Its good for the people are our end of the chain, at least it is if its works as advertised. I'd like to see the response of all the major browser manufacturers. They appear to bear the burden of this change and have to come up with ways of maintaining their old rendering mechanisms whilst at the same time fixing any security bugs embedded in those mechanisms.

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I've been following this

I've been following this subject from a distance. Perhaps I'm missing the point—no, I know I am. This, to me, is a tempest in a teapot. I've simply not seen where a new browser breaks an old site. Yeah, renderings in Firefox will be different than in those UAs with a broken box model, for example, but they're not broken. I'm sure it must somewhere, because there's a lot of goings-on about it. More likely, the old browser breaks the new site.

There never has been complete x-browser compatibility. I don't much care what the developer wanted, Lynx never did render anything the same as IE4, 5, 7 or 15, and I have no reason to believe there would ever be x-version compatibility. As long as documents are written in plain text, not some secret proprietary protocol, they will have recoverable content. I'm not that concerned whether it is rendered by Lynx or by IE57.

Let the UA vendors simply support the standards as we move along. Even DocType switching means different things to different vendors. IE, in quirks, uses the border-box model. Firefox doesn't. How is version targeting going to do anything about that? Why should it?

A web site isn't forever. It gets old, and technology moves on. Like cars, they wear out and should be replaced. That '57 Buick was pretty slick in its day. Now, it's just a worn out, inefficient gas hog.

But, I don't get the point. Lead me.

cheers,

gary

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I don't think it has much to

I don't think it has much to do with x-browser compatability. Its seems to be an attempt to establish backwards compatability, to guarantee future browsers will be able to render current sites.

The '57 Buick, may be worn out and an inefficient gas hog, but its still road legal and will get you from A to B. Sure, an old site should be replaced with a newer more up-to-date one, but it really should still be able to look and run the same as it did back in its heyday.

For now at least, this seems aimed solely at giving IE8 a mechanism by which to run old sites in quirky standards mode and new sites in Firefox(*) mode. Most pointedly, right now, none of these sites can possibly render properly in any other browser besides IE.

From our point of view, we'll still need to use conditional comments or hacks to ensure the sites run properly in IE7, IE6, etc as we can't build sites which ignore those browsers, at least not yet.

(*) or Opera mode or Konqueror mode or Safari mode.

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The solution as it's been

The solution as it's been proposed so far sounds a lot like Facebook's method of opting out being the default behaviour: http://adactio.com/journal/1402/

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I understand MSFT's

I understand MSFT's concerns, but that makes it an application specific issue. They are trying to protect their locked-in IE developers and users. I don't agree that a broken website should forever render the same as if viewed in a complementarily broken browser. Obviously there is a contingent that disagrees with me.

And yeah, that old Buick may be street legal due to grandfather clauses, but at the first engine rebuild using a block manufactured after the cut-off date, the entire system must be brought up to current emission standards.

Those old sites will still get you from point A to B; the information isn't lost, it's just not as shiny.

Whatever they do, once they introduce a decent browser (IE8?), it won't matter from that point onward. Only legacy sites built against a faulty model are at issue.

cheers,

gary

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Why this is bad. Microsoft

IE7 is 10 years behind the standards or wrong.
But it works in IE!
IE is a cancer on the web -- Paul Thurott

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Tyssen

drhowarddrfine wrote:
Microsoft smoke.

Hmm, what an uncanny resemblance.

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drhowarddrfine
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I saw it first.

I saw it first. Smile

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The key for me, is as per my

The key for me, is as per my first post, it has to be liked by the other browser manufacturers, as they bear the burden of implementation. Actually I am astounded that the so called "months" of discussion that went into deciding on this approach didn't include any discussion with Mozilla or (I presume) with Opera, Apple and the Konqueror crowd.

For all that, Microsoft has identified a problem it has with its browser. For better or worse its wants a solution to that problem. Is a meta tag (or http header) the best way to solve it? By that I mean, its not going to be a standard, its not going to be implemented by anyone else, but they want to do something.

We talk about standards, but in strict terms IE is the standard. We scream at rant at them for not following the official standard. If they make changes, whole legions of other people will scream at them for breaking their websites. You can say, they should have done something sooner, but the fact is they didn't. So that is the state they are in now, what is the best path out of that state?

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Microsoft's description of

Microsoft's description of the problem they face ... http://lists.w3.org/Archives/Public/public-html/2007Apr/0612.html

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Digital Web has a good

Digital Web has a good collection of the various reactions: http://www.digital-web.com/news/2008/01/IE8_Version_Targeting_causes_quite_a_stir

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drhowarddrfine
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Microsoft koan

IE7 is 10 years behind the standards or wrong.
But it works in IE!
IE is a cancer on the web -- Paul Thurott

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Just let them get on with

Just let them get on with it, they(MS) have to find a solution to their problem. We mainly all write good clean well formed code we have done our part of the bargain, I will adjust to what ever IE requires but am not too fussed, if they get things wrong it's their browsers that are displaying the problem.

That link to Chris Wilson's explanation of the state of play is one of the few utterings from him that I have felt was worth reading as he does lay out the problems facing them(MS) and the historical perspective of the situation fairly well and makes some noteworthy points or at least tries to remind people that they sit on the horns of a dilemma when it comes to implementing changes and are somewhat damned if they do and damned if they don't.

We, I think, all need to minded of the fact that when it comes to talk of Standards that we do not actually have a Standardwhat we have is an evolving set of standards, eventually these problems will fade away. MS will eventually put these UA problems behind them but then we'll probably face some new problem to deal with, true standards is somewhat of a pipe dream.

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It maybe that HTML5 is the

It maybe that HTML5 is the solution to this dilemma, although that puts the onus back on to us, the web developers. As soon as there is a valid new doctype none of the older browsers will be able to render it. Old sites will by definition have an older doctype. New sites with the new HTML5 doctype should automatically be rendered in the (best) standards mode (the browser can manage), ergo no need for messy metatags.

For us nothing really changes from now. If the differences are a problem, we do what we do now and either limit our use of the problem features or use conditional comments (or hacks) to target fixes at particular versions of IE.

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Probably the best thing I've

Probably the best thing I've seen about this issue so far: http://www.katemonkey.co.uk/article/48/x-ua-lemur-compatible Laughing out loud

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that just about sums it up!

Smile that just about sums it up!

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It seems Chris can see into

It seems Chris can see into the future.

What do you all make of this?

http://ejohn.org/blog/html5-doctype/

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Phreestyle wrote:It seems

Phreestyle wrote:
It seems Chris can see into the future.

What do you all make of this?

http://ejohn.org/blog/html5-doctype/

Resig recommends using HTML5, others don't: http://www.sitepoint.com/forums/showpost.php?p=3699123&postcount=65

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I started writing this post

I started writing this post to say that this change shouldn't apply to us, but by the time I had completed my arguments, I realised that the real impact of this change on web developers is that it will only break the sites of web developers who have coded for other compliant browsers.

With IE7, we the "good guys" who built standards compliant websites that worked in Firefox, Opera, Safari, Konqueror, etc (FfOSKe), probably had the least to worry about. IE7 ignored the hacks we had put in place to "fix" IE6's rendering. "Bad guy" websites (with XHTML doctypes) which relied on that broken rendering were broken.

The IE8 proposal will work things the other way around. The "bad guys" who have used doctypes but also taken advantage of IE7 rendering pecularities (ie, sites that don't render well in FfOSKe) will not notice a thing. Their sites will work in IE8 and still not work in FfOSKe. "Good guy" websites that use conditional comments to provide IE7 fixes will break. IE8 will (presumably) ignore those conditional comments, will render the page in IE7 mode but without the necessary IE7 fixes. Result broken web page.

Note to Chris Wilson and co. If you are following IE7 rendering mode, you are IE7, so accept conditional comments that IE7 would accept.

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Chris..S wrote:IE8 will

Chris..S wrote:
IE8 will (presumably) ignore those conditional comments, will render the page in IE7 mode but without the necessary IE7 fixes. Result broken web page.

Why will IE8 render as IE7 unless you leave out the meta tag or tell it to? If you tell it to render as IE8 and if it ignores CCs and if it supports most of what makes up Acid2, won't it be fairly close to FfOSK?

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No existing site has that

No existing site has that meta tag. Some of those sites may use conditional comments to feed styles to fix IE7 rendering issues (mine do). If IE8 were to follow IE7 rendering but ignore those conditional comments the site will render differently from IE7.

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Right, wasn't thinking about

Right, wasn't thinking about going back, only about going forward. I don't think it's avoidable that most sites will need to be revisited when IE8 comes out, just as happened with IE7. Unfortunately, it's going to be the customer who will have to bear the expense. But with the number of fixes for IE7 being far fewer (at least in my experience so far) and a lot of them being fixed with a harmless min-height rule to trigger layout, the trouble might not be so great.

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Tyssen wrote:I don't think

Tyssen wrote:
I don't think it's avoidable that most sites will need to be revisited when IE8 comes out,

If that is the case, then what is the point of the meta tag?

The whole thing is proposed by Microsoft to ensure IE8 is compatible with existing websites.

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Well, it's official. I'm

Well, it's official. I'm starting to get tripped up in figuring this all out. I've been talking to a W3C guy, a Firefox guy, and two Opera guys while yelling at Chris Wilson for being a knucklehead. Smile

In any case, many are suggesting IE8 should be in standards mode by default so we an start ignoring its past faults and move forward. The meta tag should be inserted for backwards compatibility.

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drhowarddrfine wrote:...many

drhowarddrfine wrote:
...many are suggesting IE8 should be in standards mode by default so we an start ignoring its past faults and move forward.

But is Microsoft listening?

And even if they are, are the arguments sufficient to overcome the problem microsoft foresees with "breaking the web"?

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Elsewhere I read that

Elsewhere I read that Microsoft's main concern is its large corporate customers and, particularly, their intranets. The suggestion is to allow more than one version of IE to run so those customers can use what they wish and when needed.

Personally, I think this breaking the web problem is their own doing and their own problem. There is only one web and it's ours. Microsoft didn't care about the internet until not too many years ago so if they and their friends want to play in our sandbox, they have to be told, it's our sandbox.

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drhowarddrfine

drhowarddrfine wrote:
Personally, I think this breaking the web problem is their own doing and their own problem. There is only one web and it's ours. Microsoft didn't care about the internet until not too many years ago so if they and their friends want to play in our sandbox, they have to be told, it's our sandbox.

I think you're on a different planet there.

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How so? Microsoft didn't

How so? Microsoft didn't invent the web. In fact, the "there is only one web" is the title of a blog by some well known web developer who said the same thing but I can't remember who. Shaun Inman? I'll have to find it.

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I don't see how any of that

I don't see how any of that is relevant. They provide the window by which the vast majority of people view the web. No feature FfOSKe or W3C introduce will have any chance of succeeding while that remains the case. HTML5, meta tags, CSS3 all dead in the water if Redmond decides to ignore them.

Do you use CSS3 selectors on your websites? Opera and Firefox support a lot of them.
Do you use SVG on your websites? Firefox and Opera support it.
Have you implemented XForms on your website? Firefox supports them.

IE is like something the web is chained to, the lowest common denominator. If IE lags behind, web progress virtually stagnates. Only things like Flash can pull ahead. If IE gets up there with the likes of Firefox and Opera the web will speed forward. If it doesn't not much will change.

Sure, given enough time Firefox and other will eventually gain enough share to be able to drive the web forward. But it ain't happening any time soon. At the present rate Non-IE might hit 33% in 5 years or so.

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Quote:HTML5, meta tags, CSS3

Quote:
HTML5, meta tags, CSS3 all dead in the water if Redmond decides to ignore them.
In the meantime, Firefox is up to 50% usage in parts of Europe, Australia and some Asian countries. The EU has a complaint listed against Microsoft over IEs non-standards compliance and OS integration and all other browser makers have said they will ignore what Microsoft is intending to do. Some say Microsoft may have shot themselves in the foot. It doesn't help that Chris Wilson is blaming web developers for all this.
Quote:
If IE lags behind, web progress virtually stagnates.
Very true and this is why IEs market share is dwindling. Some tipping point will be reached where this will accelerate.

It sounds like you are willing to just roll over and let things happen to you. I prefer to make things happen. I won't accept this and it doesn't sound like those who matter will let it.

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Oh, I forgot to add, html5

Oh, I forgot to add, html5 will hardly be dead since Microsoft chairs that group.

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Chris..S wrote:Tyssen

Chris..S wrote:
Tyssen wrote:
I don't think it's avoidable that most sites will need to be revisited when IE8 comes out,

If that is the case, then what is the point of the meta tag?

The whole thing is proposed by Microsoft to ensure IE8 is compatible with existing websites.

Yeah but you're still going to have to revisit legacy sites to put the meta tag in. You'd not be very thorough if you just stuck it in and assumed everything would be OK.

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drhowarddrfine wrote:In the

drhowarddrfine wrote:
In the meantime, Firefox is up to 50% usage in parts of Europe, Australia and some Asian countries

I reckon those 'parts' you're talking about would be pretty small in Australia, if they exist.

drhowarddrfine wrote:
It sounds like you are willing to just roll over and let things happen to you.

Yep, I am. What am I going to do about it? Haven't got the time or inclination to fight a battle I'm unqualified for.

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Is anyone else struck by the

Is anyone else struck by the irony that the web develepor community is currently expending huge amounts of time and resources deciding the best way to 'hack' M$' next generation browser?

The more things change, the more things stay the same.

Is there any insight into when this mythical beast 'IE8' may actually be released.

Life's a journey. Enjoy the trip.

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Tyssen wrote:Yeah but you're

Tyssen wrote:
Yeah but you're still going to have to revisit legacy sites to put the meta tag in. You'd not be very thorough if you just stuck it in and assumed everything would be OK.

The whole idea, is you wouldn't need to put the meta tag in legacy sites. If legacy sites don't work then the whole meta tag thing is utterly pointless.

drhowarddrfine wrote:
Quote:
HTML5, meta tags, CSS3 all dead in the water if Redmond decides to ignore them.
In the meantime, Firefox is up to 50% usage in parts of Europe, Australia and some Asian countries.

You're kidding yourself here. Browser usage is notoriously hard to count, but I seriously doubt IE is below 80% with a few exceptions (I believe FF1.5 is popular in Thailand because it the only browser that properly handles word breaks in Thai). Among the technically literate FF has a greater penetration. But that's like using CSS Creator browser stats as an indicator for FF popularity.

drhowardfine wrote:
The EU has a complaint listed against Microsoft over IEs non-standards compliance and OS integration and all other browser makers have said they will ignore what Microsoft is intending to do. Some say Microsoft may have shot themselves in the foot. It doesn't help that Chris Wilson is blaming web developers for all this.

Don't kid yourself that this truly bothers Microsoft. The last EU fine was around $500mil. They dropped $2.2bil in beating Sony to market with their (shoddy) 3rd generation games console. $500mil is pocket change to Microsoft. They made $4.7bil in the last quarter.

If you read my other posts you will see I don't reckon this is a standard and that its not down to us (web developers) its down to other browser manufacturers. Its right that they are not bothering with this, its not their problem. Their browsers don't have such serious flaws that to achieve standards compliance they break websites that worked in earlier versions of their browsers.

I haven't read that Chris Wilson is blaming web developers for this. But then you've probably read more of these posts and comments than I have.

drhowarddrfine wrote:
Quote:
If IE lags behind, web progress virtually stagnates.
Very true and this is why IEs market share is dwindling. Some tipping point will be reached where this will accelerate.

Yes, I agree. We disagree on current share and therefore the timing of this. I believe anyone who thinks that tipping point is likely to be reached anytime soon is in cloud cuckoo land. I wish that weren't the case, because the biggest motivator for Microsoft to do something is someone else challenging its dominance.

drhowarddrfine wrote:
It sounds like you are willing to just roll over and let things happen to you. I prefer to make things happen. I won't accept this and it doesn't sound like those who matter will let it.

Two things.
(1) Don't kid yourself that making a lot of noise is actually changing the direction of the Microsoft behemoth. Read back through Chris Wilson's earlier notes on the issues he faces. He might have freedom to choose the mechanism for maintaining backwards compatibility, but it seriously sounds like his bosses have told him not to f*ck things up like IE7 did.

(2) Do you earn your living building websites? If you aren't going to accept this, then I doubt it. I have yet to be paid for a website where its appearance in more than one version of IE is not an absolute requirement. Other browsers may or may not be optional, IE isn't. Even internal sites for organistions that primarily use Macs, IE compatibility is still part of the spec.

I notice you didn't answer my questions on whether or not you include CSS3 selectors, SVG or XForms in your websites. None of those things is particularly new, even much of the CSS3 proposal has been around for some time now.

To be honest, I don't really think this is a big deal for web developers. IE8 comes out, we still need to support IE7. And if it comes out sooner rather than later, we still have to support IE6. Assuming IE8 gets it right on the standards compliant rendering, the most modification we (the good guys) need to do is add a single line into the site header. And to be honest, most paying customers will accept that their current website can't be guaranteed to work in a new browsr and will accept a small charge to make the website compatible.

The real important thing is that whatever mechanism Microsoft uses to maintain backwards compatibility in IE8, it mustn't be written into the standard and it shouldn't be taken up by any other browser manufacturer. Only that will allow it to die out as we move forward into HTML5/XHTML2 or whatever.

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I kinda wonder why the whole

I kinda wonder why the whole legacy issue couldn't be solved by letting the user throw the switch. There must be any number of clues, eg. incomplete DTD, conditional comments, * html, etc., that could be used to activate a button for switching to "legacy mode".

MSFT could even blow some smoke with a small pop-up that said something like, "Some older pages may not appear as expected under the new display standards. Click the 'Legacy' button to use the previous standards."

If, and that's a big if, IE8 is actually standards compliant, future versions should only be progressive enhancements and not break things. The limit will involve only IE6 modes and IE7. The user switch won't cause any problems with any page written to standards, and those pages with IE hacks will trigger an opportunity for the IE user to fix things.

I just don't think MSFT will have the balls to do the right thing. I feel for Wilson, he probably has a regiment of PHBs, right up to Ballmer, not willing to allow even a hint that IE was a POS, and pages coded for it were too.

cheers,

gary

If your web page is as clever as you can make it, it's probably too clever for you to debug or maintain.

drhowarddrfine
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If you read Molly's last

If you read Molly's last thread on her blog, she's considering quitting working with Microsoft and has a couple of heated exchanges with Wilson there.

IE7 is 10 years behind the standards or wrong.
But it works in IE!
IE is a cancer on the web -- Paul Thurott

Chris..S
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I don't see the "heated

I don't see the "heated exchanges with Wilson", but then maybe he is one of the mentioned but unnamed.

What I can't figure out is why those, not Microsoft staff, who were involved in these discussions, (a) signed up to NDAs and (b) let those NDAs restrict the output of their discussions.

I particularly like this quote...

molly wrote:
Open standards must emerge from public, open, bare discussion. Microsoft clearly does not agree with this. It goes against its capitalist cover-up mentality, even when Bill Gates himself has quite adamantly stated that there should be no secrecy around IE8. In fact, he was the one who let the name slip. The fucking name, people! This shows you how ludicrous the lack of communication had become: Gates himself didn’t even know we weren’t allowed to say “IE8.”

Its a shame she equates capitalism with coverup, its an unfortunate adjective to use. Corporate secrecy and paranoia are people and (corporate) culture related and independent of the overarching economic system.

drhowarddrfine
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His first response to

His first response to Molly's post shows his disagreement. Maybe it's because I read his blog and Molly's that I just sense the irritation there. Past posts between the two have been much friendlier than that. Or perhaps it's because Molly's blog is ranting at Microsoft and that's why I feel that way.

Debating whether she should quit or not after all that indicates some "heat" in all that.

IE7 is 10 years behind the standards or wrong.
But it works in IE!
IE is a cancer on the web -- Paul Thurott

Chris..S
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I hadn't read the comments.

I hadn't read the comments. Actually the comments on Molly's blog entry probably make that the most interesting post of the lot. I don't doubt there is "heat" around. I just hadn't seen any that was explicitly between Molly and Chris.

I wonder if the real solution is to ditch IE at version 7. Put it on life support for the next 5 years, or whatever Microsoft's policy is - ie. only patch security issues and then make it unsupported. Start IE8 as a shiny new browser. Ship one and make the other one available for download. If the problem is with big corporates and their intranets this should solve them. Their IT departments can deploy IE7 with impunity. I don't particularly have sympathy for the code generators that base their business on churning out IE only websites, so if they are the problem, they should bite the bullet and upgrade to producing standards compliant code. If they don't they'll wither and die eventually anyway.

drhowarddrfine
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That is exactly what was

That is exactly what was suggested by one of the Mozilla guys and some other blogger. See, you're pretty good! Smile

IE7 is 10 years behind the standards or wrong.
But it works in IE!
IE is a cancer on the web -- Paul Thurott

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Oops. That's the trouble

Oops. Smile

That's the trouble with skim reading tens of blogs and hundreds of comments. You absorb the information, but later can't remember where any of it has come from. I have no idea whether I read the blog or comment that you're referring to, but its quite possible.

drhowarddrfine
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I'm not accusing you of

I'm not accusing you of anything. I'm just saying you are thinking smart. It's a compliment. :thumbsup:

IE7 is 10 years behind the standards or wrong.
But it works in IE!
IE is a cancer on the web -- Paul Thurott

hagar2007
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Too many chiefs...

:shrug: It looks like a case of too many chiefs and not enough indians. With the makers of all the different browsers in competition with each other, and the W3C standards trying to produce a single standard for several non-cooperating groups, you are bound to end up with this kind of thing.

Lets face it, updating any software program is going to require changes to the existing data people use. Especially when things that seemed like a good idea at the time no longer apply. I remember way back when the PC was a fairly new animal. All the different DOS versions where different companies tried to interest people in their version and competition was rife. Until Microsoft pulled it's little 'bundled with' trick and swept the competition under the carpet. But the same happened with Word Processors and Personal Data Management software. You had Lotus, Microsoft, and others all competing. All offering a 'better product', but no standards between them so documents written on one were not readable on another. And to a certain degree this still remains.

But try reading older files on any new system and you could be in trouble. But as software so hardware. The new connectors on hard drives do not accept the old ide ribbons so how do you copy the data from an old drive to a new one when upgrading systems? The hard way I guess.

So, 'breaking the net' by changing or improving the browsers? Bound to happen. And it will keep happening. Not because the developers are at fault. Nor because the users are at fault. But because the makers of the different browsers are not interested in cooperation on standards and implementation. It is not good business. Just as the makers of the USB port are not concerend with how it makes the old IDE, Serial and Parallel ports on a system obsolete.

When the browser makers and the W3C and others all get together and produce completely compliant and cross comaptible browsers so that there is one standard, one code type and one set of rules for web coding then we will have matured and the web will be free of the burden of 'breaking standards', 'hacks', 'workarounds' and other such nightmares. As for IE8, I won't hold my breath that it offers any solution to the problem. Not that I consider it to be useless. All browsers have their quirks. But because I knwo that one of the design requirements will always be to compete with it's rivals and that will always be at the cost to the web itself. As will any upgrades to Firefox, Opera, etc. :shrug: