Browser support (was Re: state management plug-in idea)
colin.clark at utoronto.ca
Fri Aug 15 15:42:14 UTC 2008
On 15-Aug-08, at 10:16 AM, Eli Cochran wrote:
> I can't speak for the Fluid project, but if Fluid's clients stopped
> supporting IE6, I'd be lobbying for dropping support in a heart beat.
> This moment reminds me of the moment about 6 years back when the
> vast number of web sites decided to drop support for Netscape 4 and
> IE5, even when there were still a fair number of people using those
> browsers. We (developers, managers, marketeers, decision-makers)
> individually decided that dropping support was the best thing for
> the web ecosystem as a whole even if it alienated and annoyed a
> minority of browser users who hadn't or didn't want to upgrade.
> Dropping support meant that we could increase our productivity and
> deliver better designs and user experiences, while (not so subtly)
> encouraging the last stragglers to upgrade their browsers. The last
> time this happened it was controversial, and it took time. But
> ultimately it only took a few big players saying that they no longer
> supported those browsers for others to start piling on. And we're
> beginning to see a few of big players stop supporting IE6. The
> stakes are high, but the gain in productivity is huge. I think that
> the time has come.
I certainly sympathize with your opinion, though I do think that
interoperability is a huge goal of any open source community.
As of July 2008, IE6 still represents 26% of the market. That's more
than Firefox! It might not be prudent to alienate a quarter of the
market at this stage in the game.
In many cases, we may choose to put more pressure on a particular
subset of modern browsers, allowing some IE6-related bugs to remain if
they don't render our code unusable. Eventually, we'll want to let it
So, here's an idea for a more positive way to influence browser
support: graceful degradation. It will let us more aggressively
deprecate older, annoying browsers like IE6 without completely
excluding their users. Uploader is a prime example of the potential
for this approach. Let's put some energy there, instead of sweating
the pain of supporting sucky Microsoft technology.
If you want a fairly cynical but very interesting picture of the
current state of browser support, check out Alex Russell's recent blog
posting on the subject:
My two cents,
Technical Lead, Fluid Project
Adaptive Technology Resource Centre, University of Toronto
More information about the fluid-work