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back to article Microsoft urges developers to tag sites for IE8

Microsoft has firmed up the date a little for its Internet Explorer 8 second beta, saying the browser is coming in the third quarter. Nick MacKechnie, a techie at Microsoft New Zealand, blogged the date while telling website managers to get ready for IE 8's planned meta tag. The tag is designed to ensure millions of existing web …

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Don't think so

The days when I added extra browser-specific code to my websites are over. These days I make them standards-compliant and if a browser doesn't like it then it's the browser's fault.

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Mo

Of course…

…if Microsoft has done as promised with IE 8, those of us who've been doing it all properly for years won't have to lift nary a finger when IE 8 hits the streets.

’course, none of us trust Microsoft to have actually done as promised with IE 8, so we'll all jolly over to microsoft.com when it hits and get it installed to find out what it's broken and how awkward it'll be to fix.

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Gates Horns

I'd like to see it.

If this conforms to any standard, other than a Microsoft one, it'll be a first.

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Anonymous Coward

Never

If IE8 supposedly renders stuff more correctly, on par with Firefox and Opera, and I can get it to look relatively the same in IE6 (really stretching there) and IE7, then I shouldn't need any meta tag to tell IE8 to be stupid.

If Microsoft really cared, they'd use that backdoor in their updater software and replace all versions of IE with 8. IE6 really pisses me off in all sorts of ways, it needs to completely die.

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Bronze badge

How about:

<meta http-equiv="X-UA-Compatible" content="Firefox-3" />

That would be LOTS better!

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Tom
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No Never

I will never make my site IE8 compatible.

I will use international standards.

If MS cant write software compatible with international standards.....

No change there then.

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Gates Horns

Cart before the horse.

"The tag is designed to ensure millions of existing web pages currently working in IE 7 will not break in IE 8."

Hey, here's a better idea. Why don't you fix IE so that existing web pages written in standard HTML and CSS are not broken by IE?

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Flame

I've got a better idea...

Tag sites that will never be updated from their current IE6 compatibility mode to work in IE8 so bloated corporates might move on without fear of their beloved* tools breaking.

* Not so beloved that they'd consider updating them though.

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Funny

Apparently, Microsoft still believes the world should do whatever it takes to adapt to its latest product.

They seem to have decided that the strategy has worked for Vista... Probably, they were reading their own news releases about the "wide" adoption of their latest OS.

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Say no to quirks

Don't add code to force IE8 into quirks mode. Remove all such quirks instead, and reject all products that require such in the future. MS, shame on you!

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Nothing to see here

el reg comments getting more fan-tastic by the day. Pretty much bored listening to them bashing bigcorp inc as they hope for succour from mom/pop/benevolent dictator types.

as a wise man once said:- if you have nothing to say, say nothing.

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Gates Horns

understatement of the week!

"...Older versions of IE use a layout engine that does not comply fully with internet standards...."

replace the words 'comply fully with' with 'give a flying fuck about' and you're nearly there.

as i said a long time ago on another forum, there's a simple solution for handling internet exploder's inability to adhere to web standards:

1. design your site using standards compliant code.

2. check it validates on W3C website.

3. publish site.

4. apply boot to testicles of anyone using internet exploder who tries to tell you the site "isn't working properly", whilst shouting loudly "no. your fucking browser isn't working properly!"

5. repeat until microsoft release standards compliant browser [or hell freezes over - whichever is the sooner]

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Pirate

I'm just curious

I can only assume you lot don't have clients who generate revenue through their websites or something. I can only imagine how your client conversations would go.

"Phil, I know you've got thousands of customers using IE, and that most of them just can't update because they're in SOE environments, and those customers represent the bulk of your revenue, but I thought as a developer, it'd be unethical of me to support Microsoft's arbitrary standards - so the site won't work right for them. It's not bad code on my part, it's that there browsers don't work. Can we expect 7 day payment on that invoice?"

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Stop

@ Ignore Microsoft and code to standards only

Unfortunately if your company exists purely to sell goods and services via the web then the usage stats will tell you that the majority of your customers are using Internet Explorer so you have to code your way through the rendering bugs if you want to keep getting paid. I'm going to have a hard time explaining to the people who sign my pay cheque why 80-90% of our customers are seeing a site that looks like it's been chewed up and vomited onto the screen. In this situation the advice of: "apply boot to testicles of anyone using internet exploder who tries to tell you the site "isn't working properly", whilst shouting loudly "no. your fucking browser isn't working properly!"" isn't such a great idea. I doubt I'd get the chance to repeat this either...

Like most professionals I know in this area, I write and test everything to be standards compliant and then write fudges for IE6 and IE7 to get them to look right. I'm not happy with this and it's amazingly frustrating and time consuming but, unfortunately, that's how it is.

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Si
Gates Horns

@Sean

Yes, just what I was thinking. If I delivered a website that only works for about 25% of the browsers out there I'd be fired. It's very commendable to try and promote better web standards but the reality is most browsers out there are some version of IE and if you want to attract those users your site needs to work with their browser.

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Gates Horns

This is great!

If Firefox were not so popular, this story/thread would not be here. We are seeing concessions by Microsoft.

Now, Microsoft will have the product that has to contend with poorly designed sites and web apps. Things that worked for IE 6 and IE 7 will not necessarily work with IE 8. This is for the short-term.

After 3-4 years pages will be refreshed, rebuilt or obsolete... it won't be an issue. The playing field will be much more level though, as sites will conform to international standards.

My dream of not needing to use two web browsers may someday become a reality!

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with all due respect to ie8

its beta sucked worse than 7. MS should do everybody a favor and just get out of the browser business (like we could be so lucky).

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@bws

"Get out of the browser business". Perhaps "get out of the software business" is better.

It has been years since they produced any really good software or actually made the software development landscape a better place.

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Unhappy

Ineffective

No web admin going to go through their entire site and add a meta tag to every page that doesn't render properly in IE8. They'll just add it to the main css file and forget about it. Since that affects every page, new content will still be written for the same broken rendering engine.

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Make it your last...

...go 100% non-microshaft from here in.

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Gates Halo

actually, FireFox will probably LIKE this.

Right now, Firefox uses some tricky guesswork based on DOCTYPE and the specified DTD in order to guess whether it's a "WC3-compatible page", or whether it's a "criminal-monopolist-proprietizing-the-Internet-compatible-page".

Lots of pages are miscoded; and FF3 frequently has trouble when pages declare that they're "XHTML" but then do tons of scripting with un-escaped ampersands. (Worse than FF2, which itself isn't as good as Opera at handling criminal-monopolized-Internet pages).

People and tools which create nonstandard crapware pages SHOULD use this new tool, and make it easy for both IE8 *and* Firefox to realize right away that the so-called "web page" isn't a web page at all, and needs to be interpreted as the "quirks mode" garbage which it really is.

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@Rick Stockton

Now that is an insightful comment !

I read with interest that web devs do apparently code for standards first, which comes as a relief to me, but I had never thought that this could be a windfall for other browsers to check what kind of page they are reading.

Unfortunately, Kanhef is probably right as well, and the use of the tag in css files will still force other browsers to revert to trash-rendering mode, but still, other browsers will most certainly take this tag into account.

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TC

Only a handful of people understand the point

I've read the comments and only a few people seem to understand that IE is the most popular browser accessing web pages and for various reasons non standard code has been required to ensure IE renders correctly. Microsoft are providing developers with a 1 line solution to keep these sites rendered while potentially allowing all new sites to be 1 fit all code. To all those who are harping on about standards only and Microsoft can go kiss....you have misunderstood the intention completely but as always with the register you make comments - I guess you have to have to fill your comment quota for the day.

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Linux

Open Source

MS are stating that you will need to use special coding so that webpages render correctly. Why not just use the international standards.

I program a page it is done solely for all browsers except IE as that is the best route. If you want to view use one or you may have some issues with IE viewing.

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Anonymous Coward

@TC

Right on. I think.

- IE8 finally has a standards-compliant renderer

- The beta was released so web developers can fix their sites (well it wasn't for general consumption, it was buggy as hell and performance is sh*t beyond belief. there is not enough hyperbole. IT WAS/IS BLOODY TERRIBLE)

- This tag (just reiterating) mentioned in the article is to keep IE7 rendering mode. Personally I think its the best of both worlds, as even non-IE browsers now stand a chance of knowing when to go all 'quirks mode' on a page.

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Credit where it's due...

What Microsoft has come up with sounds the best solution for a bad situation.

Ask it to render in standards mode, and it'll render as close to standard as it can - IE8 passes Acid2, which is promising, and because of this string, they don't have to worry as much about backward compatibility with IE7 as they did with IE6, meaning if they do their job right, it could be on par with it's peers as far as standards compliancy goes.

If you site has code fixes to work with IE6 or 7, as a quick, dirty fix, you can ask for IE7 compatibility mode, meaning IE8 compatibility with minimum effort.

Ignoring the web standards zellots, who are worse then the Win/Mac/*nix fanboys put together, in the real world, what more could they have done to keep everyone happy? The acknowledge they screwed up with standards a long time ago, and since IE7, have been working towards fixing that, without breaking the existing apps and pages.

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Anonymous Coward

Get Real

There's a lot of whining idiots on here who don't seem to get what is going on.

For the first time, Microsoft are embracing the standards and promising full support for them in their browser. Whether this is because they are losing market share to firefox, or because it is the right thing to do is another matter, but frankly, who cares? The outcome is the same - good for everyone.

All these people going on about 'I will make my site to the standards and IE can f-off if it doesn't like it' is all well and good, but try telling that to a client, who expects their website to work in the most popular browser. In short: Get real. Get out of cloud cuckoo land where everything is perfect and noone cares that your site breaks in IE, because at least you are standards compliant la la la... - it just doesn't happen. Get a grip!

While the original plan for this tag was terrible (where IE8 defaulted to IE7 mode), the change to make IE8 standards compliant by default is fantastic. This tag is a PERFECT way to ensure a smooth changeover, and I'll be adding it to all my sites straight away. This way, I can remove it in a testing environment when IE8 comes out, and make sure there are no problems with IE8 in my own time, rather than rushing to sort it all out when the browser is released. Is this not an ideal solution to the usual problems of a new browser version? I will be adding it to my sites straight away, even though they are all 100% standards compliant, because... well, you never know what can happen with a new release. I would say it is pretty irresponsible not to do so.

I'm pretty fed up with the whole 'everything MS do is evil' thing as well. Yes, IE5/5.5/6 were terrible browsers, but go before that - IE4 pioneered the use of CSS in web pages (admittedly only to get one over on Netscrape, but still) and the competition was poor. So they have lagged behind a bit (lot) in recent years, but now they are trying to make amends and all people seem to be able to do is whine about it again. It seems whatever microsoft do, everyone think's is 'evil' or 'wrong'.

And yes, IE8 Beta 1 sucked. Probably because it's a beta. The clue is in the name...

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Jobs Halo

Missing the point

Completely agree with TC, Rick and Alex here, that 80% of these comments are just people going "ooo an article with Microsoft in, must flame, not even going to bother reading the article"

If you want to reach your customers target market, you have to code to standards 100%.. BUT you also HAVE to deal with quirks, it's the way the world works.

Unfortunately MS has the biggest browser penetration at the moment so you HAVE to deal with it, your customer / client does not care that you are 100% standards compliant if a big chunk of the target market cannot read the content.

It's ONE meta tag for crying out loud, try doing some work rather than coming on here and complaining.

Oh and steve jobs because I'm actually a mac user, not an MS fanboi, I just know how the REAL WORLD works.

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Flame

oh you bar-stewards!

I have devoted the past 3 years of my life to creating beautifully arcane MS-html for my internet-explorer sites.

I am hoist.

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IT Angle

So this code

forces IE8 to behave like earlier IE and not use standards that it now can?

If developers need to change there pages then surely they can now let IE8 use the standard branch rather than use the MS branch and switch the browser.

That way eventually the MS branch will whither and die leaving just the standards (and accessibilty) branch(es).

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Ru
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Unhappy

Whither conditional comments?

I've been happily using conditional comments for some years to differentiate between IE5,6,7, and the rest of the interweb's less recalcitrant browsers. I'd be somewhat disappointed (to say the least) if MS were throwing away that irritating, but perfectly functional hack.

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@TC - common not popular

I don't think IE is popular in the way that other cultural icons of Western decadance are popular - cola and hamburgers - but it certainly is common which is why so many "useful" sites such as online banks or travel site were written especially or customised for IE.

Fortunately over the last couple of years most developers have moved to relying on CSS for layout so that as the sites get updated for features or even just prettified they get better with the browsers getting better as well. Sort of chicken and egg with Microsoft pretending to play catch up.

I suspect Microsoft is really addressing those customers who bought into the ASP stack and did everything for IE. It's really a prelude to selling the same bunch Silverlight which is probably the main reason for updating the browser/runtime anyway.

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Go

@Christopher Emerson

Could not have said it any better.

And there is a clue in the fact that this is a meta *http-equiv* tag. You can actually add this site-wide or even server-wide as a http header instead, That would be a single operation for the sites you *know* to be compatible only with IE7 and previous; not on each page.

Also, notice that the tag content is "extensible" and can easily allow for other browsers as well. Going forward we may see other browsers use this as well, as the doctype switching is inadequate.

Future standards will be ambigous in some detail and will contain bugs like they have until now. Yes, standards can contain bugs! Browsers *will* experience incompatibilities because of this. Some browsers *will* need to change their rendering (or ecmascript engine) as a result of errata and disambiguating efforts. Cue how browsers interpret (and round) relative (percentage) widths.

IE has been lagging far behind the other browsers and thus IE is the browser most in need of this tag. But *every*single*browser* will experience problems like these and may need a tag like this as well if the changes are big enough or as a result of a demand for fidelity by web designers.

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Happy

The State Of Web Development

From reading the comments here, the only inference I can come up with is that the vast majority of "standards-über-alles" web devs (or at least self-proclaimed web devs) are a) illiterate, b) unemployed and c) living in their parents' basement.

It'd be funny if it wasn't so tragic.

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Boffin

re : Only a handful of people understand the point

IE is NOT the most 'popular' browser. It is the most 'used' browser. This is a common and deliberately misleading marketing misnomer.

'popular' implies that people choose which browser they use, which in general is not the case.

The vast majority of people with Windows PCs have no idea you can download and install an alternative even if they understood it would make a difference, so they just use the one that came with windows on their computer.

Also large numbers of employees are stuck with locked down machines at their workplace and so have no choice but to use the bundled browser. Corporate windows admins like it that way because they can bork everything their users do with braindead 'policies'.

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ha ha

So their own shitty browser standards have come back to haunt them. They do not get my sympathy because I've had to hack my websites in order for them to display in IE6.

Now the real problem with this tool that nobody here has addressed, do Microsoft really believe that people who haven't made their sites standards compliant are going to update their sites? Perhaps they haven't figured that these are legacy systems which nobody wants to touch.

Anybody lazy enough not to test their site in a number of browsers deserves to have their site broken by IE8.

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Flame

Real web developers?

Woah so many supposed web developers on here..... seems lots of people are confused between real world development and hacking together a personal web page that only the developer looks at.

There is NO WAY any company would consider it an option for a public website to not be IE targetted.

I assume the firefox only developers are talking about pointless personal pages that only they look at...

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Re: Nothing to see here

Well don't come here then.

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Re: How about you all read instead of flaming MS?

No, how about YOU READ!

You have to put the tag in because IE8 by default renders in "quirks" mode, i.e. like IE7. So if you write a standards compliant page but forget to put this tag in, it will render as badly as IE7 did.

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To Sean and TC

Sean: How about "code to standards (includes IE8 by MS assertion) and keep the code that fiddles the markup for non-compliant browsers (IE6 and less)". I.e. JUST AS THEY ARE DOING NOW!!!! The problem is that if MS require an "IE8" tag, you sure you won't need an "IE9" tag next time, and some way of reforming your page to decide which page to give out?

TC: IE may be the market leader, but how many of them are IE8? None. So IN THIS CASE, there is no problem in having IE8 use compliant rendering only. 0% of the market is affected and nothing needs to change when IE8 really comes out. Intranet sites that can only work with IE7 can be changed to detect IE7 and use quirks mode to fiddle the page. If it isn't IE7 (or 6, 5,...), render compliant. The reason why MS don't want that is because

a) It's an admission that there ARE IE only sites out there

b) it allows a company to start supporting Firefox or Opera, whereas with an IE8 tag and defaulting to IE7 quirks ensures that no pages need be changed and FF/Opera/... are STILL locked out of corporate intranets.

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@Naich, @Joseph Haig, and probably others..

Clearly you guys don't understand the problem. IE8 *is* standards compliant and enforces the standards as people have been bleating about. Unfortunately this means that sites that *aren't* properly compliant won't work, since they only ever worked because previous versions of IE jumped through hoops to render their stuff despite the problems with the site. If the sites can't fix their code then they're encouraged to add this tag so that IE8 will still use the old rendering engine which doesn't strictly enforce standards and does the same pre-IE8 behaviour of dealing with their bad code.

Microsoft are absolutely on the ball with this one, and they're doing totally the right thing. If you think they aren't then you probably don't understand the problem.

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Go

to Be Fair...

to all the "idiots who don't seem to understand what's going on", the article is not very clear. I have followed these developments closely, but was still slightly foxed, thinking for a second "are MS going to insist on a tag to identify properly-coded sites after all"? But no, they are doing the right thing, giving developers who only care about IE an opt-out of IE8's standards support.

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Gold badge

Re: Missing the point

No, it's Microsoft who is missing the point. This is Microsoft asking people to add new tags for a new release of the browser.

We could understand having to add specific tags to assist legacy browsers, but adding new tags for a new browser is stupid. Just make the browser better?

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Paris Hilton

@Jon Kale

Have to agree wholeheartedly with this. As much as we'd all like to tell Microsoft where to stick their 'standards' the real world doesn't work like that. I can only assume most of the posters here don't work in web design/development on a commercial level. To adopt such a stance would be a very swift route to zero clients and bankruptcy.

Paris, 'cos even she knows clients pay for results, not standards.

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Paris Hilton

Interestingly

El Reg renders like a dog and looks like crap in IE8. Who is completely to blame for this shocking state of affairs? Eh? Eh?

Paris, because it's almost certainly not her.

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Tom
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@Alex Hooren

Thats OK then - so IE8 will render standards compliant code OK.

But I have to go back and re-write all of the pages I have written previously - once I've worked out which ones dont display properly in IE8....

Only 600,000 more pages to do now...

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