I spent most of the last week debugging things for IE 7 and generally changing the way most of the sites I’ve developed handle CSS (cascading style sheets). To put it mildly, I am not an utterly happy Microsoft client today. Let me share my pain.
Standards are standards, and we’ve had the approved spec for HTML and XHTML for sometime. Is it too much to ask that IE 7 should work with existing standards-based code?
I generally develop in Firefox, then drop back and make things work for IE, which is the accepted practice for site development. IE 6 was a real PITA to get to work with complex designs. Thankfully, IE 7 is substantially better. The problem is that all those IE only fixes had been accomplished in the past couple years by using a hack that only IE would recoginize. Basically, it was too dump to realize that there was no element in an html page above the html tag (hint: it starts the page). It was the only browser that recognized it, which made it easy. MS says we need to change the way we code to fix things by using browser specific conditional statements (basically, if ie 6 use this css).
So along comes IE 7, which is their new, fixed browser. Having spent a week getting my stuff working accross the board, I feel confident saying this: 50% of my sites required at least a little work, if they are purely css based. There is still a 3 pixel jog that needs to be fixed, and for some reason, the industry standard suckerfish dropdown navigation needs position help to get the drop downs anywhere near the spot they ought to drop down from. Web developers are truly in a pickle. We’ve now got to support at least three css files for our complex sites, where we used to just have to make hacks to the main css. I had one site this week where I had to touch every damned page – and it’s got 70-100. All the developers I know surf with firefox. We only use IE to make sure rest of the world can see our stuff the way we intend.
So sometime next week, we all wake up, trudge down to our machines and we’ll have a nice message asking us if we want to install IE 7. I will have an installation, for testing only, but I’m staying with Firefox, who doesn’t have a track record of peeing in my wheaties, like IE does. Lesson to Redmond: when you make changes to your stuff, don’t break my stuff too…