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 …

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  1. Naich
    Flame

    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.

  2. 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.

  3. John Widger
    Gates Horns

    I'd like to see it.

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

  4. Anonymous Coward
    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.

  5. Herby Silver badge

    How about:

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

    That would be LOTS better!

  6. Tom Silver badge

    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.

  7. Joseph Haig
    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?

  8. Tony
    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.

  9. ratfox Silver badge
    Thumb Down

    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.

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    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!

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    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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  13. Anonymous Coward
    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]

  14. Sean
    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?"

  15. Anonymous Coward
    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.

  16. 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.

  17. Mitch
    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!

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    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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  20. Charles Manning

    @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.

  21. This post has been deleted by its author

  22. Kanhef
    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.

  23. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    Make it your last...

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

  24. Rick Stockton
    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.

  25. Pascal Monett Silver badge

    @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.

  26. 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.

  27. Jamie
    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.

  28. Anonymous Coward
    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.

  29. David Austin

    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.

  30. Anonymous Coward
    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...

  31. Anonymous Coward
    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.

  32. Anonymous Coward
    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.

  33. Anonymous Coward
    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).

  34. Ru
    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.

  35. Charlie Clark Silver badge

    @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.

  36. Uffe Seerup
    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.

  37. Jon Kale
    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.

  38. Anonymous Coward
    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'.

  39. This post has been deleted by its author

  40. Chewy

    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.

  41. Anthony Shortland
    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...

  42. Mark

    Re: Nothing to see here

    Well don't come here then.

  43. Mark

    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.

  44. Mark

    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.

  45. Andy Turner

    @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.

  46. Chris Ovenden
    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.

  47. Giles Jones 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?

  48. krakead
    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.

  49. Richard Preston
    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.

  50. Tom Silver badge

    @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...

  51. Jon Brindley
    Flame

    MS Bashing

    So many people are bashing MS, which is of course fine by me. Others are leaping to the defense of IE, which is kinda ok .. only when you say "stop bashing MS, they're doing you a favour by adding this new tag in" it's kinda not seeing the bigger picture. They wouldn't have to have done this if they'd simply written their browser properly from the very beginning. MS caused more headaches for web developers than any other company on the planet. They forced people into writing things that only work with their broken browser by bundling it with an OS that comes pre-installed on 99% of home and work computers.

    It's all very well and good saying that this new meta tag is useful or not useful, but personally I just think it's astonishing it's taken _8_ versions for MS to realise that there are web standards out there, and people like to use them.

  52. An Unwashed Mass

    I don't discriminate

    All browsers have their quirks and bloody irritating bugs... I've seen CSS and Javascript discrepancies across FF, Opera and IE... I've had to adjust portions of code to accomodate either of these browsers while the other 2 work fine

    Unless a single rendering engine is developed and forced into all browsers (which never will and never *should* happen) there are always going to be issues that trip up a single browser (or group of browsers)

    Besides, rather than blame my own code it's much nicer to be able to swear at browsers until I figure out the [usually] braindead mistake I've made

    Such is life... Rather than complaining about the inconsistencies I think we should be thankful that at least we have one area of choice the UK Gov't hasn't restricted

  53. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @ Mark (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."

    Er no, he had it right. You have it wrong, Mark. IE8 will render in standards mode by default, the presence of the tag makes it 'IE7 compatible' - using the older rendering engine.

  54. Playjam
    Boffin

    Bad news for webdevelopers

    class BusinessModel {

    function checkReality() {

    return (IE8 == standards_compliant && website == standards_compliant) ?

    NO_NEW_CONTRACT_OR_EXTRA_CASH_FROM_CLIENT :

    NEW_CONTRACT_AND_EXTRA_CASH_FROM_CLIENT;

    }

    }

  55. Anonymous Coward
    Gates Horns

    A lot of hot air in these comments...

    ... if you think Firefox, Opera and Safari are free of rendering bugs and are web perfection for developers, think again!

    They too have a fair share of rendering bugs and oddities to make developers lives a little more miserable.

    What microsoft are doing (assuming they get it right) is a good thing. It's an entirely optional meta tag intended for people who never bothered to follow web standards.

    Hopefully if your websites are web standards compliant, they should render in ie8 and ie7 without the need for meta tags.

    On the other hand, if you've built your websites with all sorts of conditionals which modify code depending on the browser, oops, silly you!

  56. MET
    Black Helicopters

    Not quite the consequence you were thinking of

    "[The IE8] beta sucked worse than 7. MS should do everybody a favor and just get out of the browser business"

    Then 90% of users will still be using IE6 or 7 in years to come, and you will still be complaining.

  57. Mark

    @Christopher Emerson

    You seem to be right. As long as *this* blog is correct and not the official previous statement by Microsoft on their blog site.

    http://blogs.msdn.com/ie/archive/2008/01/21/compatibility-and-ie8.aspx

    which says

    " 1. “Quirks mode” remains the same, and compatible with current content.

    2. “Standards mode” remains the same as IE7, and compatible with current content.

    3. If you (the page developer) really want the best standards support IE8 can give, you can get it by inserting a simple <meta> element. Aaron gives more details on this in his article."

    Indicating that there are three modes: IE7 nearly-compliant is default. IE6 and earlier is another tag. And the *properly* compliant version needs a different tag.

    Does this change also mean that IE8 will now pass ACID 2?

    Posted by kdawson on Tue Jan 22, 2008 05:04 PM

    "In a blog post this week, Microsoft's IE Platform Architect, Chris Wilson, confirmed that IE8 will use three distinct modes to render web pages. The first two modes will render pages the same as IE7, depending on whether or not a DOCTYPE is provided ('Quirks Mode' and 'Standards Mode'). However, in order to take advantage of the improved standards compliance in IE8, Web developers will have to opt-in by adding an additional meta tag to their web pages. This improved standards mode is the same that was recently reported to pass the Acid 2 test, as was discussed here."

  58. Sohail Hussain

    Martian Headsets...

    "You’re about to see the mother of all flamewars on internet groups where web developers hang out. It’ll make the Battle of Stalingrad look like that time your sister-in-law stormed out of afternoon tea at your grandmother’s and wrapped the Mustang around a tree."

    Read the whole article at http://www.joelonsoftware.com/items/2008/03/17.html.

  59. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @Mark

    Yes, that was the way they WERE going to do it, but they changed their minds and made it support standards by default some time in... March maybe? So yes, it passes ACID 2.

  60. Paul

    Standards are good, m'kay?

    For the confused, it used to be an opt-in to make IE8 act properly, but lots of web developers got really cross and Microsoft appear to have changed it so that standards compliance is the default now. Which is a good thing, and they actually deserve some praise for that (Satan is now reaching for his thermal undies due to a sudden cold snap ;-) ).

    "…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."

    This is why I make the effort to do things the right way with website development and follow the standards. I can get a site to work properly in Opera, Firefox and Safari without any odd browser-specific hacks or major headaches. Sure, they all have their rendering problems, but I haven't had to throw in any specific hacks for anything besides [gag] IE6, and stuff tends not to break with new browser versions.

    Of course this assumes IE8 doesn't have it's own set of problems which cause all-new pain and suffering, or that Microsoft don't just do some sort of half-baked implementation like they've tended to do in the past.

    I can't say I feel sorry for the poor slobs who think standards and validation are for losers and who might run into trouble with the new browser; they, and their nasty broken code are the causes of all this trouble. May they experience a world of pain...

  61. Francis Vaughan
    Black Helicopters

    Gresham's law

    I find this debate astonishing. MS has one of three options only:

    Do nothing - use the same heuristics as other browsers to detect IE7 based pages.

    Tag IE7 pages

    Tag "standards compliant" pages.

    Of the three, only one makes the slightest sense, and that is the one chosen. Which should be the end of the story.

    But of course it isn't the end of the story because of the number of IE7 browsers and the amount of IE7 based code out there. The question then becomes, how does the ecosystem progress with time? The default situation should be that IE7 based pages will atrophy, as new features become desired for web design old style IE7 pages will be rewritten, and IE7 browser use will slowly reduce, partly driven by the user's desire to best view new pages that include features not supported by IE7.

    This leaves MS with an interesting decision. They can leave the legacy IE7 rendering engine and components inside IE8 on bare code fix maintenance, which will continue to encourage the slow turnover, or they could decide to implement some level of feature compatibility for the engine. Which means that legacy IE7 based sites could continue to add new features without needing rewriting. Thus MS could perpetuate the code divide and continue to saddle the opposition browsers with the same unwanted and onerous task. I'm sure MS could spin such a decision as something good for "their" developers. Hopefully something like that won't come to pass, but MS have proven in the past that they are quite capable of taking the cynical profit driven choice over the better technological one, more than a few times.

    If it remains trivial to continue to use IE7 style coding into the future we will have the Internet equivalent of Gresham's law - where bad code drives out good.

  62. Andrew Thomas

    Nobody cares about your standards.

    Nobody posting here seems to be picking up on the point that IE8 is going to break a tremendous amout of sites out there (which won't have this special tag). I specifically don't use Firefox because it breaks so many sites. I mean, you can moan all you like that those sites should have been coded to standards, but at the end of the day I don't give a toss about your beloved standards - I just want to browse to a site and for it not to be broken.

    NO CONSUMER GIVES A TOSS ABOUT YOUR BELOVED STANDARDS.

    IE8 will break many sites. This is a bad thing.

  63. Mark

    Nobody cares about your standards.

    Frum osten fertoofle! Mis enkel pon resto imacto tellesto iten.

    Or in a standard language: Who cares about what you say! If we can't understand you it's worthless.

  64. Mark

    @Francis Vaughan

    Well you forgot the one every other browser has to do:

    Tell the webserver what browser it is.

    That's what other browsers have to do to get IE-baed sites where the web designer has then tried to get a portable webpage. But there's no way to tell from the server side whether it is IE8, IE7 or earlier. Because MS doesn't think there's a difference: you should ALWAYS be writing for IE according to their cannon.

    If they'd identified the browser properly (even if it was a new term, say the renderer name, rather than the application: after all, MS does now say that IE can be removed, but the renderer has to stay, so they must be different, right?), then those sites that only cater for IE6 will know it won't look good on that browser 'cos it's not IE6.

    If they want to keep "IE6 non-compliant" and "IE7-that-we-said-was-compliant-but-wasn't-really" as available, then the browser can switch to that mode and identify itself to that level of compliance. By user decision.

    No change to websites needed unless you don't want to update your old crappy site.

  65. Lloyd
    Alien

    IE???

    Sorry, no idea what that is? Oh, it's that blue e that used to sit on my desktop along with that envelope thingy, didn't I remove as much of those as possible as soon as possible? Yep, pretty sure I did, I need bloody Windows Live Messenger for work though (couldn't choose yahoo could they).

  66. Alastair

    But the IE8 beta...

    Is awful. I installed it on my computer briefly and it rendered almost everything that used a 'float' incorrectly. So I'm waiting on the second beta that actually renders stuff correctly before I fully 'hooray' Microsoft.

  67. Alastair

    Mark, you're wrong again

    I'm surprised that you can't tell the difference between Internet Explorer versions on the server side, because I've been doing it for years with 100% success.

    I think you've got the complete wrong end of the stick here:

    "No change to websites needed unless you don't want to update your old crappy site"

    That's exactly it. If you have a completely standards compliant site then you don't need to add this meta tag. If, on the other hand, you've got a cackhanded site that was tailored for IE6 (as many corporate web applications are) you slip the code in and it'll continue to display as it did in IE6/7. So basically, everyone wins.

    I really don't know why everyone is kicking up such a fuss- and I'm a professional web dev type.

  68. ratfox Silver badge
    Thumb Up

    @Martian Headsets

    Great reading. It is worth it to read or reread his previous article, "How Microsoft lost the API war":

    http://www.joelonsoftware.com/articles/APIWar.html

    Written in 2004, back when Vista was called Longhorn. Some people can see the future...

  69. Doug Glass

    The Only Proper Response To MS IE8 Statements

    Bullshit

  70. Mark
    Boffin

    re: Mark, you're wrong again

    OK, so if the server can tell what browser is being used, then why does there need to be any meta tag on the server telling IE8 to render as default?

    Either I'm right or the IE8 tag is a load of bollocks (I.e. not needed) or IE8 isn't going to render W3C standard by default.

    I'd prefer (because it's the RIGHT thing) for the second to be right. I'd even put up with being wrong for that scenario. But at least ONE thing is fooked up in this story.

  71. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    re: re: Mark, you're wrong again

    Gee I've never heard someone on here say so much and get it all so wrong. Think about it.

    If you do browser sniffing on the server you need all your pages to be scripted (either server-side or client side) and you need to write a different version for every browser, or create checks for each object that might render differently (similar to how it is done now). This puts all the onus on the developer to do a lot of work if they did not write a standards compliant version already.

    Using a meta tag gets the browser to do the work. The browser (IE8) renders the page as IE7 or standards compatible depending on the tag.

    This tag could be added to completely unscripted pages very easily and that is all the work you will have to do. A sensible solution is (as has already been suggested) to add the tag to all your pages now and then remove it when IE8 is released and you have tested them properly.

    The difference is getting the browser to do alternate rendering work.

    To the guy with the 60,000 web pages to change. You can't be much of a developer if all your pages are written from scratch with no universal templates or you can think of a way to automatically add the meta header tags without re-writing every single page.

  72. Anonymous Coward
    Gates Horns

    The IE7mode does not work properly

    I tested the IE8 first beta a month or two ago.

    Sites that worked in IE7 fine render with major problems in the IE7 mode of IE8. When rendering as IE8, some bugs disappear but other new bugs appear. So it seems IE7 mode does not actually use IE7, but some poor approximation.

    If MS cannot get their new browser to render according to their own previous standard, it is hard to imagine they can render to everyone elses.

    The browser also crashed every 3 minutes or so.

  73. Mark
    Alien

    Re AC "I got it wrong"

    Hang on, why is it the world MUST add a tag to make their sites acceptable to IE8 and that's OK but making your site compliant to standards isn't wanted or needed (see other AC posts dissing doing anything for any browser that isn't IE)?

    If MS had done standards in IE from the beginning, they would not have needed all this fucking about with the server. But that's for others to do, not MS.

    Without the tag, there's no more work required to support IE8 than there is supporting the dozen or so other browsers that obey the standards.

    You have old web pages that need fixing? Well, you're supposed to be a web developer. Your site should already be doing the fiddling to change a compliant site to one that works on IE6 or whatever based on browser ID. If you didn't, then you're not a web developer and you're in just as much a buggeration as if you were a win95 developer and don't want to recode your app to work on the NT kernel. STOP BEING LAZY BASTARDS! I have to update my programs to work under XP, Vista and whatever, so do all other application developers. Are you proffesional or not?

  74. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @Mark

    I think you are looking at the from the wrong perspective. In an ideal world, everyone would code to standards and the release of IE8 would be a non issue. Unfortunately, the majority of sites out there don't use standards. Yes, this is the developers fault, and they SHOULD be using standards, and it IS their fault, but you are looking at it from the developers point of view.

    Now look at it from the users point of view. Your average user will upgrade to IE8 because Windows Update told them to, and start browsing the web with it. Then they find all the sites that used to work, suddenly don't. This is of course the developers fault, but the users won't see it that way - they will think it's the browser that is 'broken' and has bugs. So what are they going to do? Use something else / go back to IE7.

    As much as its 'fun' to say 'well serves MS right' and as much fun as it is to bash MS for previous browsers, it just doesn't make sense for them to lose all the IE market. Instead of just saying 'well we will carry on rendering it the old IE way', they are meeting developers half way - they are taking a big risk in the name of keeping the web developers happy here. I don't think people quite appreciate or understand how far MS are stretching to meet our demands. They are saying that IE8 will render everything in full standards mode, and provide webmasters with an optional switch to trigger IE's 'old' rendering mode. This way, web developers don't have to rewrite sites (maybe it was a site written by someone else and taken on by them - not necessarily their fault that their site is crappy), while progressing the standards compliance of the browser and bringing it in line with the others.

    Of course, you can just refuse to take part & use the switch, in which case MS will probably decide that leaving IE8 rendering the old way by default is their best plan. Noone wants this. They will be the first to admit that they made mistakes in the past (The fact that they have pledged full standards support should tell you this), but that isn't the issue here. The issue is how to get them back on the right path and make their browser better. What they are offering to help them get back in line is, I think, a great solution, and refusing to use that solution just because MS say you should is completely pointless, and will probably damage the chances of MS sticking with the 'standards by default' in IE8 plan.

    5-10 years in the future when <IE8 is dead and used about as much as IE5 is today, everyone can forget about the 'bad' IE, the tag won't have to exist any more and everyone lives happily ever after.

  75. Alastair

    Yes Mark, you're still wrong

    I could code in a server-side browser detection for every page. But it'd be an obscene amount of work- I deal with a lot of pages that are just simple HTML files *without a server-side backend*- so I'd have to add one to every page, and probably waste a huge number of CPU cycles every day doing unnecessary processing.

    Or, I could add a meta tag to the included template I use, which will appear on every page. I think I know what I'm going to do.

  76. Mark

    And your "point" is irrelevant, Alastair

    Why does MS get a bye? One problem is that you have pages that nobody knows if it works with anything other than IE6.

    So when is IE6 render compatability going to come out of IE? IE11? 10? 9?

    And how about just making the page (and these will be OLD pages) compliant? You're going to have to do it some time and you're going to have to track them ALL down anyway.

  77. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @Mark

    "Why does MS get a bye? One problem is that you have pages that nobody knows if it works with anything other than IE6."

    Which is why Microsoft are trying to get the message out there and tell people, hence this story...

    "So when is IE6 render compatability going to come out of IE? IE11? 10? 9?"

    When IE7 (it's IE7 compatibility, not IE6) is hardly used any more.

    "And how about just making the page (and these will be OLD pages) compliant? You're going to have to do it some time and you're going to have to track them ALL down anyway."

    Because it just ISN'T going to happen. Businesses don't spend money changing things that work. When it needs a rewrite for other reasons, it'll be rewritten to the browsers of the day.

  78. Mark

    @Christopher Emerson

    So most of the broken pages are for ones written waaay back when IE5 had won the Browser war and Frontpage was piling dogshit on the information superhighway.

    IE7 was written when the Other Browsers had been a huge success. The only reason for IE7 to be created was because by sitting on their arse (MS had disbanded the IE team soon after Netscape died: IE is "free" you know [and worth every penny]) and Mozilla/Firefox, Opera and a few others had had time to adhere to standards and include browser UI functions that MS believed (and said at the time) were useless and unwanted by their customers.

    Well, after the customers told them how much that was wrong by using FF/Opera and they took a large section of the browser world, IE7 was built. At the time, IE 7 was supposed to be the mutts nuts on compatibility and bringing new security and innovative UI features (like tabbed browsing...).

    By then most pages had had to be rewritten to identify whether it was not IE reading and act appropriately. The market share of non-IE was big enough that "upgrade to IE6 or later" was no longer a sane choice for an internet presence.

    So IE came out and sites already either were abandoned to IE6 hell (often because they were old and busted rather than new and sexy) or were IE 7 (which had not lived up to the IE W3C compatibility hype) and checked the browser was not IE and produced a page that looked proper on them.

    And you say that these pages which already HAVE "browser checking to make a W3C compliant page" and "Make IE busted junk page" should be modified to add a tag that makes IE8 (purportedly beautifully compliant with W3C) compatible.

    I fail to see the reason here.

    They already have code to make compliant pages from the base documents.

    They already check for IE7 (or others) and produce a different page.

    It's been vouchsafed here on El Reg that IE8 can identify itself uniquely different from IE at an earlier version.

    Why do they need to add a tag to make IE8 look at the IE7 page? Why not put IE8 with the other compatible browsers and allow it to look at the W3C compliant pages?

    Why?

  79. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @Mark

    You are completely missing the point. This is not about servers that check the browser and serve up different pages depending on what it finds, that is a completely separate thing. This is about pages that were built for older IE versions which would break with a fully compliant engine. It was a problem with IE7. IE7 used doctype switching, to put it into 'standards mode' or 'quirks mode' (which is basically IE5 compatibility mode), as did IE6. Doctype switching has become less useful now and has big disadvantages, since even broken pages are getting them copied and pasted in mindlessly - it is no longer a useful way to tell compliant pages apart. Hence, this tag. If the tag is there, it will use doctype switching still to decide between IE7 standards mode or quirks mode (ie5 box model behaviour) to be compatible with the earlier versions. If the tag is not there, the page gets done in full standards mode.

    This is NOTHING to do with browser sniffing on the server side.

  80. Mark

    @Christopher

    You're missing the point.

    That may be the point I'm making (along with any *competent* web developer), but you've missed that. You haven't given why these pages must be tagged so IE8 can render them like IE7 rather than just render like the other browsers do.

    I may have missed your point, but your point merely seems to be "Well, IE is THE browser and we're too lazy to fix webpages".

  81. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @Mark

    "You haven't given why these pages must be tagged so IE8 can render them like IE7 rather than just render like the other browsers do."

    That is exactly what IE8 DOES do when the tag isn't present - render in standards mode, 'like other browsers'. The tag is for people who know their sites are built to work on previous IE versions to make sure a standards compliant browser won't break.

    That isn't my point at all - I am a big standards advocate, but it just isn't realistic for MS to provide standards support, and not provide a way to make webpages still work that would otherwise break. There isn't a clear black/white picture here, it isn't a case of 'well people should fix their pages'. Yes, they should, but it just isn't going to happen - you have to look at it practically.

  82. Mark

    @Christopher Emerson

    So why the need for the tab? You're viewing a page on IE8, not IE7.

  83. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @Mark

    Yes... and IE8 will support standards which break pages built for earlier versions of IE. The tag tells it not to break them. Therefore the user is happy, doesn't switch browser because they think the browser is 'broken' and MS keep their users on board. If the tag wasn't there and IE8 supported standards, the users would abandon IE8 because it 'breaks' pages, and MS don't want that.

    I really don't know how I can explain this any simpler than I have done...

  84. Alastair

    Mark, seriously...

    You don't code web pages for a living do you? Let me show you how the conversation would go with my boss if I did what you suggest:

    "Hey, boss... IE8 is out now, and it renders web pages a lot better. Do you mind if I go back and remove the last two years of IE-specific hacks I've had to do all over the place?"

    "Isn't there a quicker way? That'll cost loads!"

    "Well, yes. I could just put a meta tag in. But it's not right."

    "F*ck off. Do it."

    The other issue you seem to be blindly ignoring is that all IE users don't magically upgrade to IE8 the second it comes out. It takes years- the sites I run still have around 60% IE6 usage, and IE7 has been out for ages. Just because IE8 appears doesn't mean that we can forget all the others exist.

  85. Mark

    Alastair, seriously for you

    I do code for a living.

    And would it be better to say "Hey, boss, IE8 is out now so we don't have to code for specific versions of Internet Explorer any more and we can put a tick in the box of 'ISO9000 compliance' and 'standards compliant website' to make our work more obviously quality if we rewrite the few bits of the website that were written to avoid bugs in IE7 or earlier".

    You don't know how to talk to a boss. Maybe you don't code for a living?

    Oh, no, the simpler explanation is that you wanted to make up both sides of a conversation to prove your point, not to see whether my point could be valid.

    Twonk.

  86. Mark

    @Christopher Emerson

    "IE8 will support standards which break pages built for earlier versions of IE."

    Don't you mean

    "Earlier versions of IE would break when given pages written to w3c standards"?

    And unless you want to avoid 20%+ of the browser market, you'd be writing for FireFox, Opera and Safari (in Europe, it's nearer 40%), you already have a w3c standard page.

    So get IE8 to look at that by, oh, NOT identifying it as IE7.

  87. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @Mark...

    Don't you mean

    "Earlier versions of IE would break when given pages written to w3c standards"?

    No. Given that the w3c standards weren't finalised when the browsers we are talking about were released, its a bit unfair to blame the browser for not following them.

    You don't seem to understand that IE8 is going to render in standards mode by default, you keep saying it shouldn't identify as IE7... well, it won't identify as IE7, and this tag has nothing to do with what the browser identifies as.

    "And would it be better to say "Hey, boss, IE8 is out now so we don't have to code for specific versions of Internet Explorer any more and we can put a tick in the box of 'ISO9000 compliance' and 'standards compliant website' to make our work more obviously quality if we rewrite the few bits of the website that were written to avoid bugs in IE7 or earlier"."

    Yes, because as soon as IE8 is released, every single IE5, IE5.5, IE6 and IE7 user is going to jump and start using it straight away, overnight.

    Get real.

  88. Mark

    @Christopher Emerson

    Well these pages will have to be removed when IE7 doesn't support some Necessary Feature. It will have to be removed when IE7 support is removed from IE9.

    And continuing to persue IE7 only pages when IE7 is no longer supported (will be happening pretty soon) doesn't seem like a sensible idea.

    Using the tag only postpones your pain and, because you can continue to make broken pages because you use the tag, increases the pain you will have to face.

    So don't use the tag.

    MS, don't offer the tag. Definitely don't recommend the tag.

  89. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @Mark

    Who says the IE7 rendering mode will be removed from IE9? I don't think even MS will have made that decision yet.

    You really don't get what seems to be going on. Using the tag means people can take time recoding their sites to work with more recent versions of IE, rather than having to quickly get it up to standards before IE8s release. There will be a period of time while they can have it in standards mode, or not.

    And people aren't going to stop using IE7 'pretty soon' or just becasue it isn't supported. People still use IE5 in places, and that is now over 9 years old.

    The intention is that people will start making standards compliant pages now that IE supports it, and pandering to IEs behaviour is unnecessary. Either that, or the tag will be around until the usage of the versions of IE that weren't standards compliant (<= IE7) is no longer significant, meaning people can still support these older versions.

    There is no way that not having this tag would work, it would be counter productive for both the users and for MS. Can you REALLY not see this? I don't understand why you don't see that this is the best solution to the problem.

  90. Mark

    @Christopher

    Who ever said it was?

  91. Mark
    Dead Vulture

    How much share does each version of IE have?

    Heck, even when IE (all versions) had 90%, I don't think any one of them broke 50%. Now it has much less share (and we've got more versions of IE to slice the pie into), does any of them get 30% market share?

    And your pages are only going to work on 30% of your userbase???

  92. Mark

    That sholuld've been

    ...was being left in IE9.

  93. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Mark

    You said:

    "It will have to be removed when IE7 support is removed from IE9.". Noone has said it will be left in. I said noone knows what will happen with IE9, not even MS.

  94. Mark
    Alien

    So the answer to the question is "me"

    However, if there's IE7 in IE9, you'll have IE7,8 AND 9 in there. Code bloat. Is MS going to abandon the ultra-light notebook to Linux or keep XP until 2020? (Note: if there's no IE8, then why bring out IE9 if there's no differences?).

    Even if only IE7 stays, you've got to change your IE6 and earlier pages. How many pages have been written in IE7-specific code? Not many. At least, not many that have not also been written to ID and render for FireFox, Opera and Safari.

    So again, why not put IE8 with the three other W3C compliant browsers rather than tell the page to use IE7 even if it's viewed on IE8?

    It make no sense.

  95. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @Mark

    No, there will be no need to include an IE8 engine in IE9 if it is standards compliant from then on, will there? Just keep the IE7 compatible mode in until people don't use it any more, then remove that too.

    The IE7 engine uses doctype switching to account for earlier browsers (IE5 + IE6).

    The tag is there for people who coded for older versions of IE, and not the standards compliant browsers out there at the moment, so 'putting IE8 with the three other W3C compliant browsers' is a bit useless.

    There's only so many times I can respond to your questions, but trust me - this tag makes perfect sense. If you understand how it is working, and why it is needed, you would think the same. I suggest you try reading some other articles about it - of which there are quite a few around. You don't seem to understand the issue that MS face, and why they are using this solution.

  96. Mark

    @Christopher

    O, I thought you just said nobody knew what was in IE9.

    Was that a lie?

    Or is this one?

    The tag isn't needed. IE7 will not last forever and IE9 can't afford to take the baggage of IE7 along with it.

    Trust me, the tag has no worth. Fix your pages. That's the freaking job of a web designer. And if you have pages that ONLY render in IE7, how do you use the competitive world and reduce costs if you can ONLY use Windows? Why are you (the CEO of a company) willing to continue to spend licensing money for an OS rather than put a little bit of work on making your webpages compliant and opening up opportunities that can be used to bargain a better deal at the very least with your OS supplier?

    Please remember, IE7 was supposed (when it was vapour) be w3c compliant. When it was really released, it was touted as being much more compliant with w3c than IE6 and so you should upgrade ASAP to it.

    So if it's any better, it's less of a job to make a page that's 100% compliant with IE8. After all, that's EXACTLY what you did with earlier pages: made them compliant with IE5, IE5.5, IE6 or IE7 as they became "the browser". You didn't have a problem with making your IE6 pages work on IE7. So why are you saying there's going to be problems making your IE7 pages work on IE8? Especially since then you can make pages that can be seen on the PDA's that only have Opera as its browser.

    That is why there's no worth to the tag.

    It isn't needed and should not be wanted. For those who DO want it, why not just keep to IE7 and forbid installation of a different browser? You're lazy enough to not want to do some minimal fixes but not lazy enough to refuse to change browser.

  97. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Mark

    "Why are you (the CEO of a company) willing to continue to spend licensing money for an OS rather than put a little bit of work on making your webpages compliant and opening up opportunities that can be used to bargain a better deal at the very least with your OS supplier?"

    Don't ask me these things, ask the people in question! The fact is, many companies with Internet Explorer as the only browser on their intranet, code internal applications to work with that browser. 'Why spend money and effort making them work in other browsers?' they will say. I know full well it is easy enough to do, my pages don't need fixing, don't mistake me for someone who codes IE-only sites.

    A lot of companies are still using IE5 / IE6 because upgrading will cause things to break. IE8 will be a big change, and MS want to avoid 'breaking' these sites any more. It's not in anyone's interest for them to refuse to upgrade.

    And I didn't say what would/wouldn't be in IE9, I just said that I thought there would be no need for an IE8 mode, which is the whole point of this.

    You clearly have no clue of the practicalities involved, and why this is needed, and indeed welcome.

    Remember that it isn't just an IE7 mode, depending on the doctype it is an IE5 mode, which many companies still rely on.

    Trust ME, the tag has a LOT of worth for the advancement of web standards in general, and overcoming a barrier to getting there.

  98. Mark
    Gates Halo

    Well you told us all what a CEO would do...

    Was that you ASSUMING (and you know assume makes..?).

    So why is it you've made up an ie7 explicit page but don't want to make an ie8 specific one? You did it before. You did it for ie6. You did it for ie5.5. And so on.

    Why not this one?

    The tac can do NOTHING for standards. How can it? It doesn't enforce ANY part of the W3C standard, it just lets you keep the NON-STANDARD page there. That's the OPPOSITE of "advancement of web standards". Advancement would be "use the freaking W3C standard". THAT would advance the standards.

    The icon is a little out of synch: you have your head up Bill's arse.

  99. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Mark

    *sigh*... still don't get it?

    The only thing I can do is repeat my answers from above, which you seem to have ignored...

    You: "So why is it you've made up an ie7 explicit page but don't want to make an ie8 specific one? You did it before. You did it for ie6. You did it for ie5.5. And so on."

    Me, above: "Remember that it isn't just an IE7 mode, depending on the doctype it is an IE5 mode, which many companies still rely on."

    You: "The tac can do NOTHING for standards. How can it? It doesn't enforce ANY part of the W3C standard, it just lets you keep the NON-STANDARD page there. That's the OPPOSITE of "advancement of web standards". Advancement would be "use the freaking W3C standard". THAT would advance the standards."

    Me, above: "Yes... and IE8 will support standards which break pages built for earlier versions of IE. The tag tells it not to break them. Therefore the user is happy, doesn't switch browser because they think the browser is 'broken' and MS keep their users on board. If the tag wasn't there and IE8 supported standards, the users would abandon IE8 because it 'breaks' pages, and MS don't want that."

    Any more points you need repeating or do you understand how it works now?

  100. Mark

    Christopher

    You change your ideas to suit the occasion, don't you.

    I earlier pointed out that IE6 and earlier were broken and needed changing. You told us that this tag was only for IE7 rendering under IE8 and told us that the earlier IE versions weren't the issue.

    Now you say they are.

    You still have ignored the explanation of why an "IE7 not W3C compliant" tag, which is ignored by earlier versions of IE, so only for IE8 helps the adoption of standards. You still haven't shown why making w3C pages and getting IE8 to show them as W3C HTML isn't "advancing the standards" instead (thereby assuring that the REMOVAL of this non-standard tag is actually advancing standards).

    Your retort of "The tag tells it not to break them" doesn't work, either. You've too many meta-syntatic variables. The tag doesn't tell IE8 to break the standards. If you mean that non-standard HTML pages won't be broken by IE8 if it's tagged as IE7 compliant (which doesn't say ANYTHING about earlier versions of IE, so where's that stuff about IE6/5.5/5/... come from?), then how about making the page ready for IE8, like you did for your pages that were IE5 and it was then discontinued and you had to move to IE6? You made your pages compliant with IE6 no problem. Then, when IE6 was replaced with IE7 because IE6 is broken and unsupported, you changed your IE6 pages to be IE7 pages. So change your IE7 pages to IE8. You've done it before. And the advantage you get this time (that you didn't get before when making it IEx specific) is that it is now compliant with other browsers. Like Firefox, Safari, KHTML and others. It should be MORE fine.

    And please remember, your change from IE5 to IE6 didn't come with a meta-tag that said "This is borken IE5 HTML, so please render it with the bugs of IE5 that we had to work around. Ta". If the meta-tag wasn't needed then, why is it needed now?

    So that IE7 pages can remain on your intranet and you can remain locked into Windows. I can't see your CIO or (more especially) your CFO wanting the expense of having no bargaining position with a vendor because your web developers are lazy.

  101. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Take 2345234..

    I'll try explaining it again.

    When IE6 came out, there wasn't a problem with all this because IE6 included a 'standards mode' (which wasn't exactly what it said on the tin, but that's beside the point) and 'quirks' mode, which renders like IE5. It was switched on the doctype, so if there was a valid doctype, standards mode was used. The badly written sites done for IE5 didn't tend to have doctypes. This was perfect at the time, and was also used when IE7 came out for its own quirks and standards mode. The point is, IE7 ALREADY has support for IE5/IE6 compatible sites built in. Having an IE7 mode in IE8 automatically includes IE5/6 as well. The reason noone had to update their sites when IE6/IE7 came out is because of this. So while you keep asking me why they can't just update their sites like they did when IE6 or 7 came out... the answer is, they didn't.

    At about the same time, all the website tutorials etc saw that IE looked for a doctype, and recommended people put them in on their standards compliant sites. The same people who made broken IE sites just copied and pasted them in for new sites blindly. The end result being, doctype switching is no longer a reliable method of telling whether something is 'built for IE' or not. So, they had to come up with something new... hence this meta tag.

    It absolutely helps advance the standards. If it wasn't there, users wouldn't use IE8 because all the sites would 'break'. So your lovely brand new standards compliant browser is shunned, everyone stays on IE7 which 'works' and nothing is achieved. With the tag, people can switch to IE8 and not notice the difference on badly coded sites. So, your claim that the tag holds back standards compliance is frankly rubbish.

  102. Mark

    What are you explaining?

    You say that IE6 has a standards mode that wasn't. So bad pages still rendered incorrectly*. IE7 was supposed to have a standards mode that isn't. So bad pages still rendered incorrectly*. But a different incorrectly. IE8 is supposed to have a standards mode that may be (this time). So bad pages render correctly.

    (*incorrectly in that a bad page should give bad output, showing that you have a bad page.)

    Now if IE6 required you to change your page from IE5 to meet the new quirks, IE7 required you to change your page from IE6 to meet the new quirks, why do you not change your page from IE7 to meet the new quirks (W3C correct rendering)?

    You did it before.

    And you didn't need a meta tag.

    And early IE6 there weren't any competitors (hence it stagnated a long time: MS killed off the IE team and used them elsewhere because they had won the browser war against Netscape). So you HAD to render for quirks. Now, however, a large and growing section of the internet and intranet (because of cross-site-scripting security problems) have other rendering engines. Much bigger a market than IE7 has. MUCH more than IE8 has. So you have already a pressure to make your pages work on these browsers.

    And if IE8 has good standards compliance, if it works on these other browsers, it will work under IE8 too. So even if you have to keep IE7 for those legacy systems running closed source applications that will not be supported (see how nice lock-in is?), there's no need to use this meta tag: you already have a page that recognises IE7 and makes a quirky page that "works" on it and if it notices Firefox or Safari or Opera, gives out a page that works with them.

    Well, guess what? IE8 you've told us tells the site that it is IE8 and not IE7, so the code that detects IE7 in your site and gives it the broken pages and if not IE7 gives it the W3C pages can give IE8 the W3C pages.

    No need for the tag.

    By NOT using the tag, W3C standards are more widely used.

    By NOT using the tag, if IE9 doesn't support IE7 (or 6, 5.5, ...), you have no change to make, because IE9 will be W3C compliant. Hey, lookie! No work treadmill!

    By using the tag, W3C standards are less widely used.

    By using the tag, if IE9 doesn't support IE7, you have to change again.

    Or is that what you're looking for? A continuing reason for employment?

    Now if you REALLY want IE7 pages to remain pristine and unchanged, how about demanding that IE8 isn't used and IE7 remain the browser for your company? After all, that way you don't even need to put the meta-tag in! That's a LOT less work!

    Your parting shot isn't a reason for having the tag. If your page is broken, you're stuck with IE7 (or hoping like heck the IE8 version of IE7 doesn't change and screw up your specific page). If your page is broken as per the standards, change it. And users wouldn't notice a difference looking at your page with IE8, Firefox, Opera, Safari, Lynx, ... If you're really trying to appear as you're thinking of the "user experience", then enabling people to use the browser they WANT to use on your pages is what you should be looking for. And the tag doesn't let that happen. You still have to change your pages to be W3C compliant.

  103. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Mark

    "Now if IE6 required you to change your page from IE5 to meet the new quirks, IE7 required you to change your page from IE6 to meet the new quirks, why do you not change your page from IE7 to meet the new quirks (W3C correct rendering)?"

    Erm, it didn't. Read what I said.

    "And you didn't need a meta tag."

    No, because they used doctype switching. Read what I said.

    "And early IE6 there weren't any competitors (hence it stagnated a long time: MS killed off the IE team and used them elsewhere because they had won the browser war against Netscape). So you HAD to render for quirks."

    No, you didn't have to render for quirks at all. IE6 had a standards mode, although a bit buggy and incomplete, was far better than quirks mode.

    "IE8 you've told us tells the site that it is IE8 and not IE7"

    As I and several people have said before, this is NOTHING to do with what the browser 'tells' the site. It is all to do with what the site tells the browser. IE8 will, I expect, report itself as IE8, yes. But that is completely irrelevant.

    "so the code that detects IE7 in your site and gives it the broken pages and if not IE7 gives it the W3C pages can give IE8 the W3C pages."

    There is no code that detects IE7 and feeds it a different version. Some sites do that, but this isn't what the issue is. Where on earth are you dragging this stuff up from?

    "Now if you REALLY want IE7 pages to remain pristine and unchanged, how about demanding that IE8 isn't used and IE7 remain the browser for your company? After all, that way you don't even need to put the meta-tag in! That's a LOT less work!"

    Yes, and this is why the tag exists. MS want people to upgrade, not just stick with old versions. Trying to persuade people to stick with old versions means progress is never made, and you end up with an even bigger mess in the future when there are old versions around.

    "If your page is broken as per the standards, change it."

    Yes.. that is the whole idea, and what is being worked towards. But what you are unable to grasp is the fact that businesses don't have time or resources to update their applications and websites to w3c standards in time for IE8s release. While you are sitting there harking on about standards, you have completely ignored the practicality of what you are trying to suggest. This tag will allow businesses to do a quick update on their websites to allow IE8 to work with it (which is important, IE is the most popular browser), allow IE to be standards compliant once again and be popular with users because it doesn't break sites, and allow people to drop IE5/6/7 use which are the problem causers.

    How on earth you haven't 'got' it yet and figured out what is going on is absolutely beyond me. You are still going on about browsers reporting their versions to websites or something, when this has nothing to do with that. You claimed to be a website developer above... how you manage to do that and completely miss what all this is about (or even not understand what it is all about) is a bit worrying really.

    If you still don't get it by now, there is no hope to be honest. I'm not going to waste my time repeating every point I make over and over again because you don't understand it (or don't read it, one or the other). If you come up with a sensible point I'll respond again, if you come up with the same old rubbish then there is no point going round in circles. If you still don't get it, read the other posts again carefully until you do.

  104. Mark

    OK, lets clear the crap away.

    I don't get what you're saying because it makes no sense.

    IE8 is W3C compliant. The tag isn't part of W3C. The tag doesn't add compliance to W3C pages.

    When pages were written for IE6 and refused to give data to a browser that didn't identify itself as IE6, opera, for example, could set its ID string up to be IE6. This could be set per site or page.

    This seemed to be very acceptable.

    So why does there need to be a tag?

    There is no reason.

  105. Mark

    Just in case you don't answer

    The issue I have is that the tag isn't needed.

    Opera tells sites that it is IE6,despite being W3C compliant, because it then tries its best to emulate IE6 quirks. IE8 can do the same.

    And your company MUST be able to have time to change because they are going to have change forced upon it. Computer technology stands still for noone. They had time before (IE7 compatible pages were written and we haven't had IE7 long).

  106. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Why do you keep insisting that this is to do with what the browser reports as?

    "When pages were written for IE6 and refused to give data to a browser that didn't identify itself as IE6, opera, for example, could set its ID string up to be IE6. This could be set per site or page."

    [...]

    "Opera tells sites that it is IE6,despite being W3C compliant, because it then tries its best to emulate IE6 quirks. IE8 can do the same."

    How many times...

    THIS IS NOTHING TO DO WITH WHAT THE BROWSER REPORTS TO THE WEBSITE AS.

    It is completely irrelevant, virtually no sites switch behaviour based on the browser any more. It just isn't practical, it is very time consuming to code 5 different versions of a page to account for each browser.

  107. Mark

    Because that solves your "problem"

    If you can't afford to upgrade your pages yet can still afford to upgrade your operating system (why this would be I cannot tell), a browser which identifies itself as IE7 will work.

    IE8 can work as IE7.

    OR

    Don't upgrade IE7.

    Problem solved.

    No need to go through these pages and edit them. Leave them as they are. Even BETTER than asking people to add a couple of lines to ALL their pages (and CGI scripts, et al). And MS only has to do the work ONCE.

    If the browser cannot report itself as IE7 because it isn't, then write a webpage that works with it. You did it before.

    How can you put in capitals

    THIS IS NOTHING TO DO WITH WHAT THE BROWSER REPORTS TO THE WEBSITE AS.

    Because this tag is all about the website reporting itself as viewable on IE7.

    There are more pages then there are browsers.

    Heck, there are more websites than there are browsers.

    So it only has nothing to do with browser ID strings because MS want YOU to do the work rather than them.

    Why are you so adamant to do their work for them, when you can't do the work for your employer (fix the pages so they render on IE8 AS IE8 [W3C compliant])?

    THIS HAS EVERYTHING TO DO WITH THE TAG BEING UNCECESSARY AND BREAKING W3C STANDARDS.

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