The forsaken

Posted on October 10, 2012

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Seems a weird title to have, but my focus here is the current state of web standards and the fact that no matter how much we try and push the boundaries of HTML and CSS – much of the ‘flashy’ stuff has to remain forsaken in the ‘real’ world.

The real world I speak of is large corporate web development projects where the reality is that many users for large companies (and some companies themselves) are still using old and out of date browsers such as Internet Explorer 8, 7 and even 6.

This can create a lot of extra work when testing and fixing the multitude of display issues with older browsers.  Sometimes you can get lucky and a client will accept a basic fact, rounded corners in IE8 and below can only be achieved using JS workarounds that often bloat the code and delay the rendering of the web pages – sometimes to the detriment of the user experience. Once demonstrated to the client the value of accepting that ‘all modern browsers will have shiny rounded buttons and elements – but IE8 and below will have shiny and square buttons and elements’ – quicker page loads and an often ‘not-so-different’ appearance, they get it and accept that it is not worth the extra effort to incorporate bloated workarounds.

But it is not just rounded corners – there are box and text shadows, new CSS filters (blur, drop-shadow and numerous image manipulations), transforms and transitions that have limited support if any at all – not just in IE but some other browsers. It is like going to work with a box full of tools but only being able to use a small number of them.

The positive effect of this for me is that I am pretty knowledgable in some of the workarounds and graceful fallbacks that can be used for older browser. But this is work at the cutting edge looking backwards, when we should be looking forwards.

Our hope as front-end web developers is that older IE browsers become totally unsupported and big business as well as individuals upgrade to a point where the stats come down, or that clients become more educated and objective, understanding that the effort to achieve the ‘shiny shiny’ in older browsers is often prohibitive to moving forward.

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Posted in: Web Development