I ran into some issues while developing a site recently. Specifically, implementing an RSS feed of the clients news items. The XML validated perfectly fine and opened up in my testbed of various online and dedicated feed readers. However, the client insisted that something was broken. After much head-scratching and self-doubt I ascertained that the issue came down to the use of IE7 to view the news feed.
I never knew this before but IE7 will refuse to display any feed that uses a DTD. Apparently DTDs are insecure and every single one is untrusted. Yes, even those provided by the W3C.
I think that this says everything that you need to know about Internet Explorer’s attitude toward the foundation that develops free and open web standards.
Microsoft released Internet Explorer 8 just under a month ago now and I was interested to see what kind of market share it had achieved. Admittedly my blog doesn’t have the highest footfall but the 1.5% of visits that come from IE8 appears to be consistent with more popular sites. This is roughly half the impact that Google’s Chrome had when it was first released.
Of course, different sites attract different demographics. The more technical minded of users are, frankly, unlikely to use any version of IE so these figures will be lower for a site like slashdot than HoTMaiL for instance. Developing for your target audience is of huge importance. It’s no secret that getting things to work for IE6 has become the daily source of frustration of many web developers. Many governmental departments and large companies with monolithic IT support still haven’t upgraded from IE6 citing spurious reasons like insufficient testing. I can easily see IE8 taking away browser share away from IE7 in the coming months and use of IE6 keeping constant for a good while yet.
The public at large is better educated and now many know there are alternatives to the blue e that sits on their desktop. As long as they have a choice in the matter and aren’t locked down to an aged and obsolete browser that is.
The Internet tubes today were mainly full of comments about two things: Gmail going down and Apple releasing a public beta of Safari 4. Had the Gmail outage coincided with Twitter going belly-up at the same time then I think that productivity levels around the planet would have rocketed. As it was, Twitter stayed up as people whined about Gmail and I bathed in some smugness as I rarely use it because of this exact scenario. Then Apple came along with something to distract the Twitterverse from bemoaning their complete lack of emails: a new version of Safari.