HTML5 and CSS3 Will Have to Wait for IE9

February 22nd, 2010

I am excited about the future of web development, the stuff that we’re going to be able to do with HTML5 and CSS3 is going to be amazing, even some of the stuff that people are doing now it pretty intense and I’m beyond happy that most of them are showing how they did it. But, as usual, it seems that Microsoft is holding back the web with Internet Explorer. I’ll be the first to admit that IE8 isn’t that bad of a browser and even IE7 was a massive improvement over IE6. I don’t know why, but it just seems that Microsoft is always a generation behind the other browsers. Where would the web be if Firefox and the Webkit browsers hadn’t come along?

Because a vast majority, around 90% (including me), of computer users run Windows as their OS and I can only guess at the amount of those that only have IE installed, it’s going to be up to Microsoft to bring in widespread support for HTML5 and CSS3 features. And there’s the problem and something that I just can’t understand about Microsoft and their development of Internet Explorer. What is stopping them from adding the support for these features that all the other browsers seem to be able to add? You might think you can ignore this, believing most people are smart enough to use Firefox or Chrome, but they aren’t. My parents still don’t understand the concept of a web browser, much less that there’s more than one out there.

Perhaps Microsoft’s IE development is just part of the overall corporate direction of the company. Something that has become a giant pain in the butt of web people everywhere was the shift in Outlook 2007 to use Word’s HTML rendering instead of IE’s. This has sent the whole HTML email design world back to 1998. I know it’s not a glamorous side of web development, but a lot of clients want that service and I can’t tell you how much time I’ve spent building something that, by today’s standards, is simple and only a couple of lines of CSS, only to have to rebuild it in tables and inline styles.

HTML5 isn’t officially done yet, but there is enough support that you could build a site using it, but for the most part you have to include a Javascript file in order for IE to recognize the HTML5 tags, not really a big thing, but it is a pain, especially if someone has Javascript turned off in their browser. And, sadly, there’s no Javascript file you can use that makes IE recognize the unsupported CSS3 attributes, at least that I’m aware of.

So what does this all mean? In the end, either we wait for Microsoft and IE to catch up or we return to the days of building different versions of sites for different browsers. I managed to miss that the first time around and I really don’t want it to happen again, especially now that we have 5 widely used browsers, not 2. And it’s not just IE that’s behind on this. Most of the CSS3 examples I’ve seen out there only work in Safari and Chrome, Firefox can run some but not the ones that rely heavily on Javascript. And I don’t want anything to rely on Javascript, but that’s an entire other post.

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