Binary Persona: Browsers and why internet explorer is so frowned upon

Monday, 1 February, 2010 1,172 words

There are two reasons why people use Internet Explorer:

  • It comes with windows and it apparently does the job.
  • It’s what they have to use at work. I worked heavily with Microsoft’s networking roaming profiles and let me tell you, I liked people using IE.

The reason why people don’t like Internet Explorer is because of this story. Microsoft had an iron hold on the market share. Everybody used their browser. They decided that because of this, that they could ignore the World Wide Web Consortium. (W3C) The W3C are the people that mull over and vote on the way things should be implemented on the internet. They decide on the standardisation of things like code.

So Internet Explorer said goodbye to the agreed web standards and started doing things the way they wanted. They had every right to. IE should be free to be whatever it wanted to be like. This was a grave mistake though because turning away from the W3C’s innovation and ideas for growth means that somebody else is going to come along, gather all these ignored ideas and make a better product.

Mozilla’s Firefox did just that. So why is there so much hate towards Internet Explorer if this is the case? Although this is the crux of it, the ramifications of IE’s direction go much deeper.

Let’s find out what exactly a browser is.

An internet browser can simplified to two parts. An engine and a body. If we think of it like a car, the engine would be what makes it go and the body would be like the shape of the thing, its luxurious interior and any other idiosyncrasies.

As you can see, Safari and Chrome actually use the same engine. This is like how a BMW and Audi have the same v8 engine in the hood but are totally different. It looks different, the interior is all different and the weight of the cars (say like a BMW coupe vs an Audi 4WD) makes it perform different. The analogous parallel would be the interface you look at.

For the sake of cross browser compatibility, every engine tries to render or run code in the same manner. That way, a website will appear similar and function similarly no matter what browser you choose. Microsoft with their Trident based Internet Explorer discarded this idea and went off rendering/interpreting code like they wanted it to be. To web designers/developers, the people who make this code and who try to deliver the content on the internet, this was an absolute nightmare. It fragmented the internet. Websites that I built for the Trident engine, were broken for the other engines and vice versa. Every other engine agreed to obey the W3C. Why didn’t Microsoft? It was as if they just flipped the middle finger because they had market dominance.

This sounds rather extreme. It was. Microsoft did not implement large advances in code technology. For example, Internet Explorer still lags behind in CSS3 adoption. I have websites today that look brilliant in every engine except Internet Explorer’s. I have personally spent countless hours trying to compensate the things so that they would work similarly in Internet Explorer only to run into really retarded limitations – such as lack of transparency or half-assed PNG support.

It’s kind of like web designers wanting air bags or air conditioning standard in every car only to find that the engine emits some sort of weird force field that prohibits this.

I really cannot stress how very annoying Internet Explorer is for web developers. The most applauded and famous eruption of anger would be Joe Lifrieri, at Hugs For Monsters.

There’s a sea of anti-IE websites, facebook groups and even wordpress plugins.

You find work arounds with IE. For example, with transparency, I have five lines of code instead of just the one. I’m somewhat content because despite the bloat, my design is being how I want it to be.

Internet Explorer is slow on adoption, it makes straight forward execution of code the most convoluted quest and honestly, ignoring all this, as a browser its not as slip-streamed or efficient as its competitors in the long run nor does it do certain tricks that I think are invaluable. (IE was last to adopt tabbed browsing)

This situation isn’t as bad as it once was. People don’t realise this. But it really was fucking horrendously terrible. will not be supporting Internet Explorer 6 from March 2010. The modern Internet Explorers (version 8 now) are just fine. This is how far they deviated from coding standards. Google!

Web designers and developers don’t hate Internet Explorer. There’s a lot of animosity towards it but its the Trident engine that they really hated. When we think about our websites working across all the internet browsers, we think trident, gecko, webkit and presto. (Opera is on Presto) Not Internet Explorer, Firefox, Chrome or Safari – they’re the easy associations to the engines.

So, what browser do I recommend people to be on? Have a look at this comparative chart.

These clock times are fucking phenomenally good across the board. These are initial start up times. Internet Explorer fucks itself via its own bloat and doesn’t keep up with the other browsers. I would suggest everyone, for the sake of nullifying all the headaches around the world by web designers over Internet Explorer, to switch to Opera or Firefox. Or even Chrome or Safari. (multi-touch) For the most part, these days, it doesn’t matter as much for the end-user. Its really not as bad anymore. Enjoy your internet and if it works, it works. There are reasons why things gain popularity. Maybe these things might have something you’ll really like. (I am so happy that IE is only 3x% of the market now)

Anyways, I’ll leave you guys with some choice twitter tweets from my own feed:

  • Tempted to put “for(x in document.write){document.write(x);}” in all my designs to instantly crash any trident user. 5:28 AM Jan 24th from Echofon
  • CSS3, the dreamland. Does not render in Internet Explorer, which is 37% of browsers. Fuck IE/trident so hard up its ass. 2:03 AM Jan 23rd from Echofon
  • I wanna be the very best, like no one ever was. DUN DUN DA DUN. To code sites is my real test, to implement my sou-ou~ource. 2:22 PM Dec 15th, 2009 from Echofon
  • I will trundle, across the web. Improving by leaps and bounds. Appropriating every method, its always been my dream… (x2) 2:25 PM Dec 15th, 2009 from Echofon
  • WEBDESIGN, oooh, you’re my best friend~ I will craft sites until the end! WEBDESIGN, ooh, implementing css 3~ Against IE we must defe-end! 2:30 PM Dec 15th, 2009 from Echofon

If everybody dropped Internet Explorer usage, the world will be a better, more harmonious place for me.