The misguided war against IE6

war-on-ie6

IE6 is universally reviled among web developers for its poor support of web standards, namely with CSS and even PNG transparency. Many hours of hair-pulling frustration have been wasted when developing web applications, trying to “get things working right” in IE6 after having already spent so much time making a site look good in most of the other browsers. IE7, while better, is still not that great.

So, you may be surprised to know that I think the “War against IE6” is misguided and perhaps a bit out of touch with reality. It’s not that I don’t believe in their message, but rather that I believe it’s somewhat impractical. The unfortunate reality is that support for IE6 will have to continue for some time.

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Chrome fallout

Since Chrome’s official release some two days ago it certainly has gotten a lot of press, both positive and negative.

What’s good

On the positive side, there are some reports that Chrome’s market share has already surpassed that of Opera, coming in at close to 2.5% when I last checked. These results should be taken with a grain of salt, as Clicky’s web analytics might only be used by websites that tend to be visited by those more technically-inclined and thus more likely to try out something like Chrome. (Though Chrome’s visibility on Google’s main page no doubt has some small part in its fast growth)

For what it’s worth, Google Analytics on my lowly-trafficked site amounted to over 4% of hits in the past five days. (Google Analytics has since started identifying Chrome as a specific browser type, no surprise)

Chrome browser share
Chrome browser share on my site

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Google Chrome: What it offers

Google Chrome

After much speculation yesterday, marked by a leaked web comic and finally an acknowledgment by Google, Google Chrome, the much anticipated web browser, is here.

I encourage you to download it and give it a try, as I did as soon as it came out. Here are some of my initial impressions.

Overview

Google released a fairly long web comic that delves into quite a bit of detail about Chrome – it’s not your typical comic! Touted as being built “from scratch”, Chrome uses the WebKit rendering engine, the same one that powers Safari and Konqueror.

The first thing you notice is how minimal the “Chrome” or UI of Chrome is. If you’re used to a half-dozen toolbars, buttons and widgets all over the place, Chrome will seem like a greenfield to you. By default, there is only a tab bar and then an address bar containing back, forward, a combined reload-stop button and the address bar. There are also buttons for bookmarking a site and for page and browser settings. The bookmarks bar is not displayed unless you specifically change that setting.

Keyboard shortcuts are also present so that you don’t have to click through context menus. If you’re used to the keyboard shortcuts of Firefox and IE7 you’ll be pleased to know that most of them transfer over without change: Ctrl-T opens a new Tab, Ctrl-W/Ctrl-F4 closes a tab, Alt-D focuses the address bar and Ctrl-J opens Downloaded Files.

The address bar also functions as a search bar, and this combination just makes sense. It’s something I’ve always been doing using Firefox Quick Searches

By default the home/start page is set to set to show an Opera-style “Speed Dial” page containing most recently-accessed pages/bookmarks. You can also configure Chrome to restore the previous tabs/websites on startup, which is my personal preference ever since I started using Firefox.

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