My name is Mike and I use Internet Explorer.
The IE9 Preview is looking strong, and Microsoft is bowing to the pressure of standards compliance. The IE9 Acid3 Test, which checks for CSS3 capabilities, is currently a very impressive score of
83; not very far behind Firefox’s
94. The release notes are a dream come true to anyone who’s done web development over the last ten years. Or is it too good to be true? If they didn’t include canvas in the next release it still might be years before we really have a full feature set of browser tools to work with, and canvas being arguably the most versatile, would be the most egregious omission. But the IE Team recently laid our fears to rest and updated their IE9 feature list to include canvas. Should we get excited? Or is this our abusive ex-boyfriend giving us a puppy? Before I’m able to seriously consider Internet Explorer as a viable platform, I may need professional help in order to get over the last decade…
For the last few years, development of IE has been geared toward the end user. Accelerators? Wooo hoo! Simply highlight a word or phrase on a page and discover a faster way to get the information you need. Web Slices? Wowee! Puts you in control of the information you care about most! These “advancements” have been made with a total disregard to web developers. Akin to building a car with a real pretty color, but gives the mechanic fits because to change the spark plugs requires removing the dashboard — and to remove the dashboard you have to use both SAE and metric wrenches… and Allen wrenches… and Torx drivers… and a cutting torch. And then the spark plugs unscrew with a custom, one-of-a-kind, spark plug removing tool designed for cars with pretty paint.
Still developing to the ten-year-old IE6. Use
innerHTML for everything or else its slow… except for tables or else it won’t work. Can’t insert block elements into inline elements. Error, line 0 column 0: Object expected. A developer lexicon of CSS Hacks. Memory leaks. Develop in Firefox, fix IE8, then IE7, then IE6…. repeat.
DOCTYPES. So many bugs that they’ve started giving them cute, fuzzy names: Disappearing List-Background Bug, Unscrollable Content Bug, Duplicate Indent Bug, Escaping Floats Bug, Creeping Text Bug, Missing First Letter Bug, Phantom Box Bug…
Just lock me in a dark room and continue the beatings until my morale improves.
MS has finally started listening to developers, but they should get less credit than the developers themselves, who have been screaming louder than a politician with no lobbyist money. Without fail, any post on Ajaxian about IE would always garner the most comments, and these comments were far from favorable… with any semblance of IE support being more like “Hey the subnormal, mentally defective kid writes his name really well!” The IE Blog has been routinely bombarded with flames. The IE Team could actually write “Took the weekend off for a charity event and helped raise one billion dollars and eradicated children’s diabetes!” But they would still see a comment in that very blog post like “You broke VML fonts! When will you morons fix this lame excuse of a God forsaken abomination of a browser? You guys SUCK!!!!” EDITOR’S NOTE: Mike has since apologized for that comment…
So after all these years of abuse, we’re not sure whether we think this puppy is legit or not. After all, it only took them 10 years to implement the 1998 spec for CSS2. IE7 wasn’t released in an effort to promote web standards – it was released because they were losing market share to another browser that had these things called… “tabs”.
Without looking too deeply, the only missing items I see on the IE9 feature list are MathXML which I don’t personally use but is important for academia, and WebWorkers. Missing WebWorkers is a bit of a disappointment, but it is still early, and they could still pull that rabbit out of their hat. If not, we may need to wait until IE10 to do high performance coding like 3D. They are missing CSS animations too, but admittedly, that specification is still an early working draft.
The browser looks to not only be standards compliant but bad ass fast, thanks to hardware acceleration. Video, SVG, and even canvas all use GPU acceleration. The performance tests shown on a recent blog post video are fantastic, with IE9 just stomping the bejesus out of Firefox. The IE Team promises, and shows, that building web applications in a browser will utilize all the power of Windows and the computer behind it – so they will be just as powerful as any desktop application… and sometimes more so.
…or Stealth Puppy?
Is MS building a powerful browser that can beat Firefox into submission and rival the tough kid, Webkit? Or are they lulling us into forgiving them with this cute little GPU-powered puppy; and when we get it home we find that it chews up our underwear, knocks over our trash and pees on our bed? Will this be a solid application platform or a bug-ridden mess?
We’re hoping Microsoft has matured, but we’ve matured as well. As developers we’ve learned not to complain about having to write code that works on both Netscape and IE – the horror! We’ve seen the dark side in having to develop to Firefox, Webkit, and IE8, IE7 and another big gob of messy IE6 code. We get it. Microsoft, give us a great browser like you did ten years ago, so we can say strange things like “Gee, I wish IE had a Mac version.”