Last one out of the Kinjaverse, turn out the lights.
Last one out of the Kinjaverse, turn out the lights.
Illustration for article titled IE is dying, and why it cant happen soon enough!

Any web developers out there will freely and openly admit that they hate Internet Explorer. The speed at which evolution of web technology has been occurring has mandated faster browser updates and adoption. It was only a few short years ago that Microsoft was making a huge push to kill IE 6 (which has been largely successful). IE 7 has fallen nearly as rapidly but IE 8 is still hanging on.

Web statistics are showing that IE as a whole is falling in popularity but this is across all the internet traffic (Yes I'm aware this is what W3C tracked, and different sites show different statistics. However, IE is falling in popularity across nearly all statistics). The large down side to this? IE is still holding fast in the business world requiring B2B developers to dumb down their software applications to capabilities that were possible in the bleeding edge almost 10 years ago. The reason for this has been the fear of building a web application that would not reach the largest possible customer base due to lacking features in IE 8 and lower. The game is changing and you should be excited! JQuery has announced that version 2.0 will not support IE 8, this is HUGE. It is difficult to get an exact statistic on JQuery usage but according to w3techs JQuery is used by 91.7% of all websites that they track which is over 50% of all total websites out there.

So now that I've showed some trends, why are old browsers so horrible? Slower JavaScript engines prevent usage of more advanced and user friendly features which have become nearly required these days for any "new" application development. JavaScript supported features are lacking in older browsers which means no use of canvas, 3D SVG + canvas, or web sockets. This means chats, streamed content, or live updating pages use polling mechanisms to support antiquated browsers or worse yet force users to utilize Flash or Java applets to accomplish things that are supported in HTML 5. This also means for System Administrators that servers are burdened with no-op polls where there is no actual update for the client. Consumers of your software are burdened with downloads, upgrades, and unsupported versions of things like Flash and Java. Wouldn't it be better to just upgrade their browser instead of upgrading plugins?

What does this mean for managers? Higher expenses for green field software development due to lacking support for old browsers, high expenses for server usage or cloud, less capable ending software product, and frustrated customers.

So how do we speed up the demise of out dated browsers? There have been multiple movements like "The IE 8 Countdown" to help enlighten others to upgrade. What can we do as Managers, Developers, and Architects? The first step is push into not fully supporting any non-HTML 5 compliant browsers. This requires showing an upgrade banner or notification to any users using your site that they should update to the latest version. This also means for B2B applications we need to, as a whole in the technology community, push legacy companies to upgrade and stop dragging down the rest of the industry. The fights? They are difficult. C-level employees rarely care about the product, the technology, or the difficulties suffered by mid-level managers and their teams. All they want to see are bigger numbers, and telling a fortune 500 company "You have to upgrade your companies browsers to use our software" generally yields said fortune 500 company to go with another company.

First if you are reading this and work for a company using a non-HTML 5 browser (IE 6, IE 7, IE 8, and truthfully even IE 9) you are the first and most important line of attack. These companies who offer no modern alternatives are an embarrassment that should be ashamed of holding the entire industry back because of "upgrade fears". It is free and fairly easy to offer whatever legacy requirement is needed and a modern alternative. Secondly, if you are a service company offering software, start deprecating all browsers without HTML 5 support. This doesn't mean they "cannot use the application" just that certain features may not function optimally. I am not encouraging SaaS company suicide, but giving lots of notice and starting now begins the process!

The trick to freeing web development to be the best it can be is starting today and set deadlines. The modern web is out there waiting to be embraced, anyone who is not embracing it should be left behind. Let your software do more and be more, your customers will thank you! As always I leave you with this. Always keep pushing the boundaries and never stop learning!


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