Hixie's Natural Log

2003-04-22 17:11 UTC Buzz: Hallucinogenic drugs?

I used to be a firm supporter, and indeed (a long time ago) one of the few most active members, of the Web Standards Project. (You may remember the top 10 CSS problems in various browsers that the CSS Samurai wrote.)

A few years ago they started an "Upgrade Campaign", to try to entice users to upgrade to more compliant browsers. Today Mark announced that they had recently retired this campaign.

To quote:

The percentage of standards supporting browsers in use has increased tremendously. The percentage of non-standards supporting browsers is low and doing nothing but decreasing.

Well let's see. Google says:

Microsoft Internet Explorer 6.0's market share has been rising steadily since September 2001, and now has around three times more market share than the next two most popular browsers, Internet Explorer 5.0 and Internet Explorer 5.5. Other browsers have marginal market share.

Now, I don't mean any offense to Microsoft, but in what world is MSIE 6.0 a standards supporting browser that doesn't give authors a difficult time when trying to write Web sites?

Maybe I am too optimistic, but when I ask for standards support, the idea is that you can write the page once and know that all UAs will follow the specs. Given the many discussions I see on css-discuss, it is quite clear that we are not there yet. Even given that IE6 is over 18 months old now, and so cannot be expected to support things like CSS2 Selectors — let alone the CSS3 Selectors, support for which is already growing in many other UAs — or advanced CSS2 features like fixed positioning, table layout, generated content, or the inherit keyword; even given that because it is so old in Internet terms it can't be expected to support newer standards like XHTML or MathML; even given that Microsoft have limited resources and so can't be expected to support things such as data: URIs or alternate stylesheets; even granted that some of its bugs were technically correct when it was released and have only become non-compliant after the spec was clarified; even given all that, it still has numerous layout-breaking and script-breaking bugs. Totally broken margin collapsing. Totally broken box model. Totally broken float wrapping. Broken CSS parser. Buggy CSS1 selector engine. Buggy white space handling. Poor support for the 'ex' unit. Totally broken inline box model. Broken 'text-decoration' support Utterly broken HTML <object> support. No support for the HTML <link> element. Broken HTML comment parsing. Broken relative URI support. Need I go on?

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