Free-Floating Hostility

Saturday, January 14, 2006

In Which I Put my Foot Down

So pretend you're me. You have come up with a blog template that is 1) cute 2) functional. It is popular with your readers. It looks gorgeous in Firefox, Netscape, Safari, etc., but in Internet Explorer it's all messed up. Now you have a problem. On the one hand, this is actually not your fault, it's Microsoft's. They developed IE6 at a time when they hugely dominated the market and felt no compunction to live up to W3C standards, such as they were. I believe the sentiment was something like "Now programmers will have to decide if they want their page to look dumb in our browser or dumb in everyone else's and they'll get with the winning team, so no web users will want other people's browsers." On the other hand, their strategy worked.

Real programmers who don't just fiddle with their blogs on their vacations have found ways to make their pages look fine in IE and other browsers, but you are not a real programmer. You are going back to school in a few days, and the probability of your hitting upon such a solution before then is low. Also, unlike most programmers, you are not hikikomori (though your behavior since the alignment problem was brought to your attention would seem to contradict that assertion).

So what do you do? Should you say "fuck it," reiterate your gratitude for the continued existence of the Gates foundation and code your template to look good in the browsers that actually play by the rules? Or should you bow to the fact that most people out there still use IE and punish your smart readers? You actually put up a reader poll for about an hour, but that created alignment issues all its own so you 86ed it rather than take on another alignment project. Lastly, should you abandon your new template and go back to one for which IE's cheating was not a deal breaker legibility-wise?

This is my feeling on the matter:


All of you! There is no reason not to get Firefox and make it your default browser. Occasionally you run into difficulty on sites that have had to come up with circuitous codes to accomodate IE, but that's the exception rather than the rule, and it will fade with time. You can always go back to IE in such rare cases for the five minutes you need that site. Around 30 million people have downloaded Firefox already (says this newspaper; who knows how many it really is), because it's easier to use and it actually obeys the rules established by the boffins who really invented the internet. Everybody wins. And Bill Gates? He'll be okay! He's going to have to come around on this issue sooner or later; you're really doing him a favor. Don't be an enabler.

So, in summary, I choose life. If I change the blog to fix the alignment problem in Explorer, every other browser will display a droopy, flaccid, palsied sidebar, which is most depressing to behold, and tenacious. So I am not going to fix the alignment problem. I'm only one woman, I like my new template, and that's just the way it is. If it doesn't suit you you can kiss my ass crosswise.

2 Comment(s):

  •   Posted by Blogger Jeff'y at January 14, 2006 1:38 PM | Permanent Link to this Comment
  • With Firefox, the Mozilla folks have made a stronger effort to achieve standards compliance than Microsoft, but I don't think that there's a browser out there that adheres to ever standard endorsed by the W3C. Firefox definitely isn't perfect–try taking the Acid2 test with it. Safari only recently managed to pass the test in one of its latest patch releases.

    Not every web designer is as conscientious as BananaTML, and many of them go out of their way to code HTML/CSS/JavaScript that only looks proper in Internet Explorer, given its still-commanding lead in browser market share. If there are enough sites you visit that only look good in IE, chances are that you won't change your default browser from Internet Explorer anytime soon. I commend FFH for its stance.

  •   Posted by Blogger Form at January 15, 2006 10:54 AM | Permanent Link to this Comment
  • While I use Firefox at home, I am forced to use Internet Explorer at work. However, the alignment issue is really no issue for me, because I read FFH in Bloglines anyway. Although I do not get to experience the backgrouds, I get all my content formatted correctly. And the content is why FFH earned its spot on my Bloglines reading list. (And because I was friends with a couple people on staff way back in college.)

    Regardless, everyone is getting what they paid for.

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