Internet Explorer 6 is almost 8 years old. Try to think of another program, browser, piece of equipment or anything else used in our tech-world that is 8 years old and still viable. How is that LaserDisc system of yours working? Is it still with the times? Every product reaches that point where it simply needs to go. You may argue ‘But it still works…’ but if you developed web sites for a living you would know it really doesn’t. If developers, like myself, didn’t spend extra time and code writing specific styles just for IE6 then it wouldn’t work. Apart from the extra markup, styles and time wasted, it keeps a developer from being able to take advantage of simple things like PNGs. Sure there are numerous PNG hacks and other ways to get IE6 to behave like a modern browser, but why are we still accommodating?
Even though Microsoft released Internet Explorer 7 in 2006 and just recently released the non-beta version of Internet Explorer 8, IE 6 still holds a 17% browser share. Between Firefox, Safari, Google Chrome, Internet Explorer 8 and more than a handful of lesser-known but viable browsers, a lack of options is not the problem. So what do we do?
I’d love to say we should just develop our sites and never bother checking it in IE6, I mean I’d really love to. At last year’s An Event Apart in New Orleans, I sat through a nice presentation of how powerful CSS can be done by Andy Clarke. Ok, to be honest I was actually sitting there getting a little annoyed because he was showing how little CSS he could use to accomplish nice looking techniques. But the whole time I’m thinking “That’s not going to be that easy if you want it to work in IE6. Nope you can’t make it that clean.” So I approached him afterward and said “What about IE6, it can’t be done that easy AND work in IE6?” His response, “I’ve made a career not worrying about IE6.” How did that make me feel? In a word, jealous. I, like many developers, do have to worry about IE6. I’ve come across a couple of techniques that could help us get to the days where we can enjoy Mr. Clarke’s freedom. I’ll list them below, use at your (boss’) discretion. These are just 5 of many.