April 6th, 2012

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Dropping IE support isn't necessarily the end of the world

This week's Linkedin trawl turned up this interesting tidbit, from a startup that simply decided that supporting Internet Explorer was more trouble than it was worth -- and seems to be getting away with it.

It's hard to explain how subversively exciting this is to us long-suffering Web engineers. To the average user, a browser is a browser is a browser -- you might like the look of Chrome more, or a few of the features of Firefox, but most users simply do not give a damn. To someone actually programming the stuff, though, IE is an unbelieveable pain in the ass. The article isn't exaggerating when it says that supporting Internet Explorer can double or triple your development time, and produces the most horrendous bugs.

(Why? Microsoft's old corporate arrogance, mostly. In the early days, they quite consciously chose not to standardize, on the calculated grounds that, since they owned the OS, they could lock users into IE by being different. After that, it was mostly laziness, far as I can tell -- they just didn't *care* about the standards. It wasn't until Firefox and Chrome started to become genuine threats in recent years that they've finally cleaned up their act. IE9 is generally considered the first "good" version of Internet Explorer, close enough to the standards that you don't have to completely tie yourself in knots to support it.)

Personally, I find 4ormat's approach a bit *too* extreme, at least at this point: signs are that supporting IE 9 and 10 probably won't kill you. But it's good to see companies sending this message, and I hope we see more of it. Older versions of IE (*especially* IE6) are basically the bane of the Web, making life harder for every company. Even Microsoft has declared that they aren't supporting IE6 any more, and I think that, if I create any more projects myself, I probably won't support anything earlier than IE 9...
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Share with those you love

I'm slowly continuing the Great Book Project, which is going to result in a huge book sale in September -- pruning through both her books and mine, figuring out what I can easily part with. And almost every day, it contains revelations.

For instance, today's: I just found two books of poetry in her hand. Most of it collected by various great authors and songwriters, but about a third of it hers. Not high art, mind -- it appears to have been written when she was 16, and is mostly love poems about her then-boyfriend John (and his cars) -- but still, immensely personal stuff, full of personal truths. And I don't think I ever knew that she'd written a poem in her life. She always claimed that I was the creative one, and that she wasn't.

The only moral I can draw is: share who you are, while you can. Every day I do this project, I come up with more questions that I wish I'd asked her, had I but known to do so...