[thelist] other browsers

Tom Dell'Aringa pixelmech at yahoo.com
Tue Sep 16 12:07:20 CDT 2003

--- Simon Willison <cs1spw at bath.ac.uk> wrote:

> In my opinion, developing for IE5+ only is a sure sign that the
> company 
> in question has completely failed to understand one of the biggest 
> benefits of web technologies: thanks to well supported (if 
> misunderstood) open standards they offer a way out from platform
> lockin.

Oh I don't disagree with you! Simon you know who I am ;) (see
Maccaws). I'm just reporting the type of work I've seen this year for
my consulting jobs. I don't have any say in the architecting, believe
me :)

> Let's talk about in-house development. [snip - scenario with all 
> Win boxes vs. Linux boxes ]

While what you say is true, take this typical company. They have 100
seats of MS boxes. They decide to build a web app vs. a VB app. Do

A) Buy 100 Linux boxes so they can build it "open source" and cross
browser, etc so it can be easily supported by a Linux guy they have
to now hire or,

B) Leverage what they have, build it to work on IE6 only (since they
have total control and they perceive its way faster to do so) and the
people they already have can support it. Nothing new need be
installed, no new money need be spent.

999 out of 1,000 they go for B. Honestly if it were me - *I'd* go for
B with one caveat - I'd still build it using standards. But there is
no need to go out and buy 100 linux boxes or even to install new
browsers. There is no reason too. (Especially in a tough economy)

> It's not like developing cross platform applications is even 
> particularly difficult - the W3C DOM is well supported by most
> modern 
> browsers and the most popular IE extensions (innerHTML and 
> contentEditable) are supported by recent versions of Gecko as well.

Agreed - but it also works on IE only! I'm sorry but that's how
people see it. Realize that I started MACCAWS to fight this very
thing. As a consultant, I run into this mentality every week. I
educate my clients as best I can, but rarely do they take my advice.
They usually claim its a time issue or a money issue, because they
won't see the evidence right in front of their faces. 

Here's the problem - they are thinking of their deadlines and the
application as it stands at *that moment* - they have no foresight
into the maintenance issues or even performance issues half the time.
Nor do they want to take the time to find out. :(

> Vendor lockin is never a good thing. [snip.. ]Unfortunately, it 
> seems the single vendor mentality is so ingrained in corporate IT 
> culture that many companies are failing to realise how much 
> freedom this gives them.

> Disclaimer: I've never worked for a big company - the above is
> based on common sense, talks with people who DO work for big 
> companies and reading far too much slashdot ;)

Hehe. Well I have worked at a couple of "big companies" myself. Is IE
only development vendor lock in? I guess it is. They are big on
"doing what works". "We know that if we build this thing IE only,
that it will work with the least amount of problems." That's it in a
nutshell. That's what they think. While I hate to admit it, there is
*some* truth to the statement. But the flip side is they gain NO
benefits from compliant code which is clean, mean and IMHO always
seems to work better.

I've had one contract this year where I was able to sit down and show
the client how I could take his rough IE only UI and redesign it
using standards. He let me do it. The code is 100% cleaner, 50%
faster, saved him good money on his hosting bills, is customizable
because of the separation of style vs. content and I was able to
easily train his developers to use it. And he has *complete* control
over his user base. If only there were more clients like that!

So - the point of all this rambling - we as developers love to push
open source and standards as good things, which they are. But reality
is that its very hard to get those solutions into practice with large
companies (the one I mentioned above was a small company). The high
browed will rumble and say "well why work for such evil then..hrum
hrum hrum" to which I respond "bills."

So deal with it when you have to do it - but do your best to educate
them during the process. Even when I am writing for IE only, I write
standards code if I can. Sometimes they request IE specific stuff
(modal dialogs for example), so you just do it. If you can at least
show some of these companies how much better things could be, maybe
the light will start dawning on some of these project managers etc
etc. That's the whole point of what MACCAWS is at least trying to do,
no matter how hard :)

Sorry for the length...


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"That's not art, that's just annoying." -- Squidward

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