What a lovely tool we have at our fingertips: the Internet. It’s full of tons of useful information, interactivity, buying, selling, trading, free-lance business, banking, videos, games, music, and so much more. However, your online experience is only as good as the browser you use through which to do your “surfing” and there are indeed massive problems with Internet Explorer, especially versions 6 and below.
I’ve recently been doing a bit of web programming code for a client, and I initially tested and debugged the stuff in Firefox 3, Google Chrome, Opera, Mac Safari, and Internet Explorer 8 beta 2 (which although it does conform to CSS standards much better than it’s predecessors, is still incredibly buggy, as I would often find images, or menus disappearing, only to reappear on a “browser refresh”). Check out these two different screen shots of the CSS work I’ve been doing:
1. The first is what the website SHOULD look like, and what all the aforementioned browsers execute.
2. This second one is what Internet Explorer 6 did the FIRST time I looked at the code in that browser. Ugly.
Unfortunately, it seems that Internet Explorer 6 is the default browser for all Windows XP systems, and according to the following graph from wikipedia.org, about 21.5% of Internet users still use Internet Explorer 6.
Additionally, according to the other graph, nearly 90% of users still use Windows operating systems.
This means that I can’t simply overlook IE6 as an outdated browser, and I’ll have to fix the problems in my code. Take a look at a few of these sites for a few of the problems I’m talking about:
- Position is Everything: The weird and wonderful world of Internet Explorer (19 items listed)
- Internet Explorer box model Bug
- Psuedo-class elements: Bugs with :first-letter, :hover
- Debugging CSS (this is a long list of problems that I’ve not yet had a chance to fully come to appreciate)
Interestingly enough, however, it seems that plenty other developers are also sick of supporting IE6. Check out Chris’s page about an Internet Explorer 6 “blocking script” that will basically determine the browser the user is attempting to access your site with and pop up a “Sorry! This page doesn’t support Internet Explorer 6” message.
But, my complaints with Internet Explorer don’t stop with the bugginess of its code translation. Living in Korea gives me another HUGE reason to complain about IE (all versions). Although Korea is one of the most wired countries in the world, all the “wiring” is virtually the same.
This New York Times article gives an overview of the Internet in Korea:
South Korea boasts of being the most wired nation on earth. In fact, perhaps no other country has so fully embraced the Internet. Ninety percent of homes connect to cheap, high-speed broadband, online gaming is a professional sport, and social life for the young revolves around the “PC bang,” dim Internet parlors that sit on practically every street corner.
Although the graph earlier and this NYTimes article do report that nearly 90% of users use a Windows Operating System, it seems that accessibility and compatibility standards differ between my home in the States, and my home in Korea. It seems that while America and other English-speaking countries (from blogs I’ve read) acknowledge the existence of, and have even begun to use different web browsers for their Internet needs (or different OSs as well), Korea seems to have neglected the fact that other browsers exist, or simply hailed Internet Explorer as Almighty God and King.
In Korea, every system in a PC or gaming room, every office, every school, and every home have has Windows XP installed, and as such use Internet Explorer as the default (and often ONLY) browser. I suppose something can be said for the lack of support for the Korean language in different browser applications, but then I’d have to direct your attention here, or here.
However, Internet Explorer itself I suppose isn’t my biggest gripe, rather it is the amount of additional (and pointless) software that nearly EVERY Korean website makes you download just to be able to access it’s contents. The school I work for makes me download a new program in order to check student homework. Bank websites all make you download multiple key-blockers, virus protectors, and security guard programs just to LOGIN, and each bank has a different set of software to install. Between my job, and my bank accounts, I’ve had to install about 10 different components.
Additionally, nearly every Korean website is built in Flash, and incorporates some form of Active X (always from an unknown publisher) in order to access the contents of its website. All sites are optimized for Internet Explorer, only with certain additional, required components installed or enabled, and therefore I can’t access many sites I’d like to from the browsers I prefer. Trying to access a Daejeon city tour-guide book and map from Firefox had me clicking and clicking and clicking on a link that I later discovered only worked in Internet Explorer when it opened an additional window with some Active X or Java thing.
Therefore these days, I definitely love accessibility and compatibility blogs and information as I’m finding it incredibly difficult in Korea to access what I need. I had romanticized hopes of doing web development in Korea, but given the web standards I’ve experienced here so far, I don’t think it would be a job I’d necessarily enjoy doing, even on a small scale. Although, someone needs to open the Korean eyes and browsers to the world of possibilities available to cross-platform compatibility…Looks like these guys have started that ball rolling.