Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Stop the IE6 Hate

For a long time now, it has been common for developers to go on and on about how they hate IE6 and how users needed to be discouraged from using. It's gotten old. It's trite. It's time to move on. 

IE6 has become a non-factor for most sites. It trails far behind IE7 and IE8, not to mention Firefox. And of course, its numbers are always shrinking. I know that at a certain popular website that I happen to work for, we no longer test for IE6. It's been that way for us for 6+ months. It's over.

So now that it's over, there are some things that I want to see. First, I want to see all of those JavaScript libraries that everyone uses, drop their IE6 code branches. Shouldn't jQuery, Prototype, ExtJS, Dojo, etc. all be able to shave off a huge amount of their code? Shouldn't these libraries now progress even faster since they don't have to worry about IE6? Similarly, GWT and similar libraries should benefit as well. Websites should be able to remove some CSS hacks as well, though not all of them... 

Next, I want to see the same passionate disdain directed towards IE7. Now IE7 is not the bug ridden beast that IE6 was. Instead, IE7 is basically a properly patched IE6. As a developer, you would definitely prefer to deal with IE7. It works differently from all other browsers, but it is relatively consistent in the way it works. You could not say this about IE6. However, IE8 is much closer to the rest of the world. If IE7 were to drop off to obscurity like IE6 has done, then imagine the benefits. There would be far less need to write things in a different way for IE. There would be far less need for conditional CSS. 

So stop hating on IE6. Move on. Start taking advantage of a world where IE6 is irrelevant.  And if you still want to hate, start hating on IE7. With a passion.