Shallow Thoughts

because deep thoughts smack of effort

More on the Meta

Posted in Web Stuff by Bridget on January 24th, 2008

So, I’ve talked to a few colleagues and had an additional 24 hours to mull this meta declaration proposition over — the browser version targeting idea. Did it help to change my mind? Am I convinced that version targeting is a good idea now? If you care about my surface level observations today as they compare to yesterday, you’ll have to click the link to read more. 🙂

Thoughts on the backlash…

Eric Meyer wrote another article expressing his disappointment at the vitriolic reactions of the web design community. Completely understandable, if you ask me. It’s ok to disagree with comments and proposals. Name calling and flaming is really unprofessional. We can easily disagree on issues without calling a person’s character into question. It would be nice to see that practiced more than it is.

Thoughts on the number of options…

In addition to that commentary, Eric followed up with even more of his thoughts on the topic of version targeting than he shared the day before. The comment that struck me most was this:

It has to be realized that this may well be the only way for IE to advance its standards support in a reasonable time frame, or at all. Version targets let them avoid breaking existing sites, especially intranet sites, while fixing and adding their DOM, CSS, and other implementations. That has to be understood and accepted if the discussion is to be anything more than people talking past each other.

Hmmm. Ok, it might be the only way. But, are we sure of that at this stage? I know that people far more intelligent in how the web works have been offering suggestions and this announcement is a result of that. But, wasn’t that a limited group offering suggestions? Now that the proposal is out there and others are adding to the mix, might there not be an opportunity for another way to arise from the melee?

Maybe it isn’t going to be the only way to skin this cat. I’d like to wait and see before deciding on that one.

Thoughts on backwards compatibility…

Eric also stated:

Within the world of IE, they must have a way to uphold backwards compatibility with sites developed under older versions of IE.

Ok, but for how long must this continue?

Consider advancements in technologies that are not related to the web. Let’s take a look at what is going on with television. On February 17th, 2009 “broadcast” of tv will change dramatically. It’s moving away from analog to digital. On February 17th, 2009 if you don’t have a way to access television broadcasts digitally, then you won’t be watching tv. AT ALL.

A few myths began circulating about having to throw away your analog televisions (not true, get a converter if your tv can handle it). It was also misunderstood that you must have an HDTV to see digital broadcast. Again, not true. Regardless of those myths, there is one thing that rises to the surface. You can’t throw a tantrum when your analog tv no longer receives an analog signal. They simply won’t be there. Assimilate or miss out. No ifs, ands or buts.

The implications of this spanned the television industry but also the end consumer. We all have to get converters or televisions with digital capabilities if we wish to continue to watch television. There is no backwards compatibility offering. None.

So, maybe we can watch that transition for clues on how to “transition” the web away from the bugs and hacks of the past just to make stuff work. Let’s be honest here about this: in the long term, the web will be a better place because of it. Yes, the short term might be bumpy — even down right painful. But if not now, when?

Thoughts on transitioning (if it were an option)…

There has to be a great deal of advocacy, long before launching the “transition” from bugs and hackery to standards compliance (not the utopian variety, the IE8 will be so much better than IE[old] variety) so that end consumers are aware of what is on the horizon. Warn, warn, warn the surfers of the web. Keep warning until everyone not living under a rock knows what is about to be realized. It is up to the consumer to conform or miss out, but there was plenty of forewarning to make it their choice to miss out.

Thoughts on IE continuing to support standards…

Eric said:

Within the world of IE, they must have a way to uphold backwards compatibility with sites developed under older versions of IE. Without it, they will largely stop fixing bugs they discover in their standards support. It really does come down to that.

But why? Why make it so that hacks and bugs live on but honest to goodness standards compatibility has to struggle, suffer and groan?

It is spouted off quite frequently that the web is still in its infancy. I agree with that sentiment. With infancy and youth come growing pains. We are definitely experiencing that now — as was the case when the standards movement was born. However, why must it be the developers/designers who have to feel all the pain? To protect the innocent web surfer? Mmmmmm, I think it is ok to let them grasp that new stuff has kinks and it takes time to work those out.

It has been a commonality of almost all shiny new things when they first launch, but they tend to improve over time. And when those improvements are found to be most excellent, the old versions become obsolete. It’s the natural process of evolution.

Thoughts on letting old sites break…

Eric also said:

The fact that [Microsoft’s] current situation is their own fault is not really relevant to the topic of moving forward. This is a way forward for IE, just as the DOCTYPE switch was a way forward for a number of browsers (including IE) back at the turn of the millennium. It may be the best way. If there’s a better way for them to meet that need, then I absolutely want to hear it. But remember, “let old sites break” is a non-starter. You might as well say “let old sites not load at all in any browser”.

Cue The Godfather theme song. What? Are we getting an offer we can’t refuse? Use version targeting or Microsoft will abandon standards because it’s just too hard for them? Sorry, no sale. I’m honestly waiting for someone, anyone, to make an argument in favor of version targeting that doesn’t amount to “we have to or else.”

I realize that my comments above appear as though I’m saying, “Break the Web. Do it! I don’t care!” (That is not the case.) I’m merely saying we have to look forward to a Better Web(TM) and that may very well mean that end consumers (Joe & Josephine Websurfer) get upset along the way.

As this particular diatribe of mine has rambled on quite a bit, I will wait until tomorrow to share what concerns I have regarding the proposed solution. There are more since yesterday.

Other articles on this blog pertaining to this subject:

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