About the meta IE8 switching tag

Everybody who’s anybody in the standards worlds has had their say in it already. Now it’s my turn, d*** it! It was kind of weird to see Zeldman, Meyer and PPK all agree on something that seems it would have to be appalling to standardistas, in the same way table layouts and font tags do: it separates one browser (or environment) from another.
There have been various points made in the heated discussion, and I consider all but some to be moot points. Let’s reiterate:
  • The meta tag is harmless. If that’s the case, then so is the bold tag, since it can be styled in any way you like. Why is strong better? It has more meaning, and that serves the future of the web. But it doesn’t harm anyone, right? Correct. Still the idea of standards is not just to stick to standards for being pricks, but for helping the web to attain it’s full potential in the future.
  • Forward Compatibility is no necessity. PPK went as far to say “if the world is not according to your theory, you should change your theory, not the world.” This may be true for quantum dynamics or brain chemistry, but for things we can actually influence the reverse is true. If my car is broken I don’t invent a theory that redefines my car, I just have my car fixed, so I just change reality. Face it: forward compatibility is such an important concept to users that it’s not even mentioned in software specifications. Users expect it, where backwards compatibility is often broken, sometimes even without workarounds or fixes. Look at the file formats of Access 2.0, 95, 97, 2000, 2003, XP. But I can still open a MS Access 2.0 file in MS Access XP!!! And there are workarounds for converting from the old to the new format. Now try to save your HTML page e.g. which uses CSS, XHTML, JavaScript into HTML2.0 format and keep everything working the same way. This doesn’t work, and hardly anyone expects it to work. Nevertheless, the standards movement has helped this issue a lot. I can now disable styles on many websites and keep a functional site or appllication.
  • It’s the best of all evils. How could this ‘solution’ possibly be the best if it means again the burden of complying is with the developers, instead of with Microsoft? I’d like to elaborate on this part:

Let’s make a comparison chart of possible solutions:

  Meta Tag Server Config Browser Setting Branched Version
Burden on Web Developers Sys Admin Sys Admin/End user Vendor
Backward compat. Partial Yes Yes No
Forward compat. Partial Yes Yes Yes

I have seen solutions being brought forward that would involve changes for the web developers or sysadmins of intranets. From experience I can tell that this is hardly feasible. The Meta Tag solution is similar, though it doesn’t actually require the change, it’s always optional.

I am in favor of the branched version for several reasons: not only is it a solution that is completely transparent to current internet developers (only intranet admins would download it), it’s also an easy to deploy solution. In the scenario of a browser setting, a user could accidentally have ‘IE6-mode’ switched on, giving support guys and girls all over the world a headache. The server config has to accomodate not just IIS, but any server software in the world. Hardly a good choice, however it’s possible when it’s just a header to be sent. Still, it’s a lot more fiddling then deploying software, something intranet sysadmins are very familiar with.To conclude, in my opinion we should leave the current standards aware environment as we have developed over the past years in it’s status quo: if you’re not a standards aware developer, and your publis internet site fails it’s rendering, it’s your own fault, and you should fix it! If you’re on a user limited intranet, there are more options, since you don’t have to render correctly in all browsers.


A good plugin these days is hard to find…

mootools tooltips and calendar

Magento – Home – Open Source eCommerce Evolved

this is a very good tutorial on DOM scripting