IE8 versioning snowstorm

5 March 2008: Microsoft IE Team reverted their initial decision. The browser will now default on the last implementation. There will still be a versioning system if people choose to. Jeffrey Zeldman has a good summary of blog posts on the topic.

It is snowing this morning in Tokyo and around. It is quite rare. Last time was two years ago and the snow on the ground only lasted for 24 hours. I arrived at the office and I have seen another kind of snowstorm. And I’m pretty sure that this one will not finish within 24 hours. So to keep track on what is being said about IE8 and opt-in versioning mechanism.


Sam Ruby is asking interesting questions.

What is MySpace supposed to do? Users copy/paste input into text areas and the result is wrapped in a template. Multiply this question by all of the sites (Blogger, WordPress, etc.) that do similarly.

How does this affect feed aggregators? Use xhtml:meta as extension elements? How are planet / river of news aggregators supposed to cope?

and posted a technique for your .htaccess if you are using Apache.

BrowserMatch MSIE best-standards-support
Header set X-UA-Compatible IE=edge env=best-standards-support

From the comments on my previous post, I gathered, if I understood, that IE8 will not respect HTTP protocol. The key question from Sam Ruby is to me:

My basic problem is that I don’t know what features are in and out of IE8 or when it will be released.

A software vendor should always release what (and how much) is exactly supported. It is very important for the web developers community.

Links Feast

4 thoughts on “IE8 versioning snowstorm

  1. Long term I suspect the X-UA-Compatible header will prove not to be required, and that many of the recent blog comments will be seen as a fuss over nothing. If current versions of IE can use DOCTYPE sniffing to choose between quirks mode and standards mode, there’s no reason why Internet Explorer 8 can’t expand the technique across all three rendering modes. No DOCTYPE or the HTML 3.2 DOCTYPE can continue to be quirks mode; XHTML 1.0 and “strict” HTML 4.01, where no X-UA-Compatible header is in use, can activate “IE7 standards mode”; and any DOCTYPEs not listed internally within Internet Explorer — including that used by HTML 5 — can use IE8 standards mode. See also this question and this answer on Chris Wilson’s blog.

  2. My 2 cents…I think the following would be better:

    No DOCTYPE, HTML 3.2 DOCTYPE, HTML 4.01 trans = quirks mode

    HTML 4.01 strict, XHTML 1.0 or 1.1 trans., HTML 5 trans. = IE7 stand. mode

    HTML 5 strict or XHTML 1.0 or 1.1 strict = IE8 stand. mode

    Anyone using XHTML strict is hoping for as much standards support as possible.
    Anyone using transitional is hoping for some slack from the browsers rendering engine.

  3. I don’t see a need for any method of switching except doctype sniffing. I want standards to build with and I want user agents to adhere to those standards.

    I share Sam Ruby’s worry for several reasons. If Microsoft are really putting the effort in to create a browser with real honest rendering, shouldn’t they make the process even a little bit more open? If they are putting the hard work in, are they going to go back through all the bugs in IE7 and actually get the browser up to par with the likes or Opera and Firefox?

    My main fear is that we will have another Internet explorer version that doesn’t fully implement standards – with ie6.css ie7.css and ie8.css peppered through our lovely standard pages.

    If however Microsoft DO put the effort in to make IE8 more than a joke I urge the IE team to make sure it follows accepted implementations of the spec (existing browser implementations for consistancy) and makes the doctype the main switch between rendering modes.

    Web developers who include a strict doctype are usually aware of the differences between transitional and strict and are therefore more clued-in on how browsers render those differences.

    In my experience, most of the websites out there are built by those who don’t care about or don’t know about standards. This legacy content should be rendered as quirky.

    Documents that have been built using transitional doctypes are pretty much everything else at the moment (although there seem to be a growing number of strict documents around), these should be treated exactly as they are – a transition between mucky soup and carefully created standard-based documents. These should be rendered as IE7.

    Along with strict documents, pages that combine xhtml, xml, svg etc or generally use features that not all user agents are the most likely to adopt html5 as and when it is ready.

    I agree with Josh above with the rendering rules, this almost seems to be too ovbious to even have to type. Oh Microsoft, how you keep us all amused :-|

    Mark Thompson

  4. Just a small comment:

    I do web standards based design as much as possible (Doctype Strict XHTML 1) – use Full CSS 2.1 Style sheets and totally separate the formatting from the structure.

    The funny thing (not so funny actually) is I was just finishing testing a page and css file – tested in about 40 different concoctions of different browsers, Platforms and Versions – Now:

    The good news is that almost all browsers/platforms/versions/mixtures rendered Standards compliant to the pixel.

    And this included IE 5, 5.5, 6 and 7.

    So I decided to also test it in IE 8 (Beta) – WOOOOAH –

    Then today I was reading for the first time about this META […] – and …

    VOILA it worked to the Pixel uxing:

    <meta http-equiv="X-UA-Compatible" content="IE=7" />

    even in IE5, 6, 7

    still have to see what this brings:

    <meta http-equiv="X-UA-Compatible" content="IE=8" />

    I also deleted the doctype and uploaded and tested in IE8 – and that worked too – but I am not a fan of this practice.

    But my point is this:
    I am self-employed working from home doing websites and am isolated and when I work I don’t have much time to surf for info all the time.

    So finding by chance the IE8 Meta Switcher Thing was pure luck — and I would like to say that the majority of MS developers are careless rascals because most of them just don’t use doctypes on purpose.

    Pages start with html and end with it.
    Just built for IE lots of times – and even then with a zillion errors in it and only half working.

    I call it lazy – and most of these pages when they validate validate with 100s of errors or not at all.

    Plus MS is still a GARAGE-COMPANY – producing crappy machines with crappy software.

    The rendering is crap too – plain and ugly (when viewing in IE, as compared to Safari for example which renders nice)

    So hopefully sometime in the future Internet Explorer will lose all its popularity and we all can bury it and move forward to better things without Microsoft.


    By Roger Ledergerber

Comments are closed.