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April 14th, 2009

IE6 – Time to go the way of Old Yeller

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.

http://ie6update.com/ http://www.bringdownie6.com/ http://www.stopie6.org/script http://www.stoplivinginthepast.com/ http://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/save-the-developers/

About the Author
Pete Schiebel is the lead front-end developer for the Platforms team, described by some here as the "front end MacGyver" for how he works to make sure client projects look and function as advertised. Follow him on Twitter @sneakepete.

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Add Your Comment1 Response to “IE6 – Time to go the way of Old Yeller”

Iain on May 29th, 2009 at 3:35 am

I totally agree and so it seems do a lot of developers on the Internet.

Having to support IE 6 costs a lot of time, money and lost opportunity, it’s time that everyone adopted Googles approach and dropped support for it.

The browser is half the age of the web, time to let it fade into history.