Should I upgrade to IE7 while learning design to W3 standards?
November 11, 2006 8:40 AM   Subscribe

Should I install Internet Explorer 7? I use IE6 (windows XP) now and am doing my best to learn XHTML and CSS -- I'm a newbe. I've check ASKme and there is quite a number of folks that are against updating. These folks appear to have substantial knowlege of programming and are far advanced to my knowledge of the subject . Should a person new to web design just upgrade to IE7 now and learn design to strict W3 standards rather than wait until the rest of the universe is at those standards and relearn them the right way? I know there is alot of grey area here -- for and against. Thank you....
posted by orlin to Computers & Internet (17 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: Most resistance can be attributed to the fact that in simple terms you can't have IE6 and IE7 running on the same PC, and so if you need to develop for the lowest common denominator then you're going to want to keep IE6 running for now. This is even more so in the case where the developer is supporting a corporation which probably wont upgrade to IE7 for a year or so. There are obviously ways around this (VMWare, Virtual PC, IEs4Linux).
posted by furtive at 8:56 AM on November 11, 2006

I would recommend using Firefox 2.x for day-to-day use. It also gives you a second browser against which to cross-check your code.
posted by The Michael The at 8:59 AM on November 11, 2006

Keep IE6 and download Firefox/Opera. That way you'll have a standards-compliant browser you can use for learning proper HTML/CSS code, but still have IE6 around for the inevitable round of "go back and hack your standards-compliant code so it looks pretty in IE6."

The only issue with this solution is you'll miss out on whatever rendering quirks IE7 might have. But because you a) need either XP SP2 or Vista to get IE7, and b) you need to have a validated/sufficiently hacked copy of Windows, IE7 takeup is likely to be low for some time.
posted by chrominance at 9:00 AM on November 11, 2006

Best answer: My advice: learn strict. Code to Firefox. Learn the work-arounds neccessary for XHTML 1.0 (and there are some - while the specs make sense from a technical perspective, some of the ramifications, like the "float flag" and inline-image problem, simply need work-arounds in most designs to look "right").

Once you've conqured that, then move to IE. IE7 certainly conforms better (but still has a long way to go), but my instinct is that IE6 is going to be with us a long, long time.

Let's compare it this way: you're learning a language. Would you rather learn English via IM messages in txt-speak, or from on Oxford don?
posted by Bora Horza Gobuchul at 9:00 AM on November 11, 2006

And the best way to get from Firefox to Internet Explorer is IE View Lite. It's my buddy.

Want to go the other way? Rock the FirefoxView.
posted by VulcanMike at 9:13 AM on November 11, 2006

You can make IE7 act like IE6 using quirks mode. More in here. So you can install IE7 and still have IE6 behavior when you need it.
posted by damn dirty ape at 9:16 AM on November 11, 2006 [1 favorite]

As far as I'm aware, there is not a browser that exists that fully complies with xhtml/css perfectly, with no bugs. So your best bet is to use a validator on all your code, and test it in several browsers (firefox + opera), as well as internet explorer.

Also, I'd be very suprised if IE7 even approaches full standards compliance. If you continue to use internet explorer as your full-time browser, I'd go with IE7, but if you're going to switch to firefox/opera (I'd recommend this!) then stick with IE6.
posted by spark at 9:18 AM on November 11, 2006

You need to learn how to code for IE6 if you want to build sites anyone will use. My recommendation is to constantly try your code out in several real browsers (IE6 and Firefox minimum, probably Safari as well). Ignore the W3C, standards compliance and XHTML. They're all failed experiments with zero practical benefit.
posted by cillit bang at 9:36 AM on November 11, 2006

I'm curious as to whether IE7 reports itself properly via its user web sites show less than 1.5% of people using 7 which seems way too low, but maybe MS hasn't started pushing it via Windows Update yet.

I have various stand-alone installs of IE around, you can do that same with 6. If you go this route, beware that IE conditional statements (really the best way to "hack" IE6) won't work as expected as even running "IE6" your browser will interpret conditionals as if it were IE7.
posted by maxwelton at 9:51 AM on November 11, 2006

Best answer: Develop your sites with clean XHTML 1.0 Strict and CSS. Write your CSS only for decent browsers like Firefox, and add in the crutches IE needs as separate CSS files delivered with conditional comments. That way, you're developing good coding habits and your sites will be much more future-proof, acccessible, and flexible (say if you wanted a way to make your pages look nice on a printer or mobile device).

Please ignore any naysayers above re: XHTML and good code, especially if this is going to be your livelihood. I'd never hire any one who can't grok the importance of good, clean HTML. (Remind me to tell you about the guy who said his favorite doctype was 4.04 Strict...) XHTML 1.0 strict came out almost seven years ago; there's no reason to use anything else.

This Javascript suite goes a long way to helping IE6 behave, but you'll still need to give it it's own CSS for various widths and things.

Internet Explorer 7 is being pushed out to Windows users as part of a security upgrade and will have a significant share of the IE market sooner rather than later. It's entirely possible to run multiple versions of IE on the same Windows machine. Tredeosoft has a lovely, simple download package with a single .exe. This week I upgraded the IE on our testing box and then installed IE 4, 5, and 6 using the Tredeo package (and promptly donated him some cash since this saved us lots of time and trouble).
posted by mimi at 10:02 AM on November 11, 2006

dude, get firefox
posted by uncballzer at 10:06 AM on November 11, 2006

I'd never hire any one who can't grok the importance of good, clean HTML. (Remind me to tell you about the guy who said his favorite doctype was 4.04 Strict...) XHTML 1.0 strict came out almost seven years ago; there's no reason to use anything else.

Please don't take this as Holy Writ. Many smart people like Ian Hickson, Mark Pilgrim, and Anne van Kesteren, all deeply involved in the web standards world, have described some of the problems that come with unthinkingly using XHTML, like the fact that it is impossible to serve valid XHTML to IE6 because it can't handle the application/xhtml+xml MIME type. There's nothing wrong with HTML 4.01 Strict, which is pretty much the best balance you can achieve today between correctness and cross-browser functionality. Even the W3C does not claim that XHTML should replace HTML for most uses.


And on-topic, to answer your question, it depends what you want to do. If you want to create a blog or some other personal site, and you're not really concerned that it work for people unwilling to use Firefox or to upgrade IE, than there's no reason to muck around with IE6 — code for IE7 and Firefox, and the world will eventually catch up. If you're planning to do this commercially or for a more mainstream site and you or your clients want to be sure not to exclude any users, stick with IE6.
posted by IshmaelGraves at 10:33 AM on November 11, 2006

Best answer: If you want to make website that work for people using IE6, then don't upgrade, because you won't be able to test. Use firefox as a reference browser and IE6 to test
posted by delmoi at 10:59 AM on November 11, 2006

Upgrade to IE7. Then, as mentioned earlier in the thread grab the tredosoft bundle and install the previous versions of IE.

Regardless of what browser you prefer in your daily web browsing, you can't control what other people are visiting your sites in. In other words, you should be testing your web pages in multiple browsers anyway.

Conditional Comments are a great help when trying to get through all of the crazy IE mud.

I use Firefox 2.0 in my daily travels. But if I see someone else saying to "rock" Firefox I'm going to scream.
posted by punkrockrat at 11:10 AM on November 11, 2006

Writing to a browser's rendering ability isn't the same thing as writing valid, standards-compliant markup. The essence of writing to standards is having a single document be meaningfully interpretable and renderable on any compatible browser, and to be compatible with the broadest range of browsers, including nongraphical and text-to-speech browsers.

If you want to explore how HTML works, keep as many browsers on hand as possible. This is essential for learning how to distinguish between what elements mean and how browsers interpret them. Keep a printed text around for convenient reference: I'm partial to the Flamingo book, but there are other, more recent references that are probably better to start with.

If you're writing professionally, keep some Macs around so you can check how your work renders on them as well. Otherwise, face the inevitable complaints. (Fortunately, rendering on Firefox for Windows and Mac are as similar as can be, but most Mac users use Safari. And Safari does things differently than other browsers, too. And changes rendering between versions. A pain, really.)

Oh yeah, which browser to choose? uh... I haven't decided that yet for my dev machine, and will be trying some of the hacks for running both.
posted by ardgedee at 11:19 AM on November 11, 2006

You might also think about getting a subscription to BrowserCam which gives you screenshots of every browser on every OS under the sun plus remote access (to test navigation etc.).

An annual subscription is $400-500 US but there are plenty of groups forming each month that split the cost and you pay c $20-25 per year. Try for that.
posted by ceri richard at 11:24 AM on November 11, 2006

Response by poster: Wow -- thanks allot everyone ! I appreciate your input. Regards, Orlin
posted by orlin at 11:41 AM on November 12, 2006

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