A day in the life of Danny D'Amours

Martian Headsets – about the web standards war

Joel Spolsky has an informative and entertaining post entitled Martian Headsets which discusses the recent decision by Microsoft’s Internet Explorer 8 development team to make the default rendering mode “Standards” as opposed to IE7 compatible.

Joel not only discusses the pros and cons of this decision but how we arrived at this point where every web developer must test every webpage with every browser and code around each browser’s features and flaws. He also puts in his bet for how the web standards compliance game will play out with respect to IE8.

Ideally I’d love for developers to only have to test with one standards compliant browser and be assured that their pages will look the same on every browser and OS but I’m not that naive. If only it could be made less painful than it is now….

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March 18th, 2008 Posted by Danny D'Amours | Tech | 2 comments


  1. Danny, it can be made less painful, but it won’t be easy. “The problems we face cannot be solved by the same level of thinking which created them.”

    Here’s my perspective on the issue, which you might enjoy:


    Comment by Robby Slaughter | March 22, 2008

  2. Robby, I agree that a solution won’t be easy.
    You mention new technologies such as Silverlight and Air but there are other issues with these technologies in that they rely on vendors to make the runtimes available on various platforms.
    The beauty of HTML is that almost any person can independently write a browser for an operating system or device which make the web page and site open. In the worse case, one can get the HTML document, read the contents in a text editor and still get some value out of the page. With new UI technogies, if you don’t have an interpreter provided by company XYZ, you are out of luck.

    Perhaps HTML 5 (or HTML 6?) could bring in some stricter compliance requirements for browsers. For example the spec can state that if you are interpreting HTML 6, you cannot accept reversed tag closures or other sloppy code which is currently “accepted” by browsers such as IE and Firefox.

    Comment by Danny D'Amours | March 26, 2008

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