Why the ‘IE Only’ Crutch Needs to Go Away

Many years ago, I remember seeing “Optimized for IE”, “Best viewed in
Internet Explorer”, and “IE Only” on websites. Nowadays, I’m not seeing
that as much, and I’m glad.

I never realized how much “IE Only” impacted me until I was helping a
friend with a project and found that the app worked fine in other browsers
for the most part, with probably just a little tinkering in the browsers
to get them to work. When I was told that the app was supposed to be “IE
Only”, that caused me to get quite disgusted, and I hadn’t actually
expected that kind of reaction out of myself.

Back in the day, certain things only worked in certain browsers.
Nowadays, though, browsers are getting a bit closer to implementing the
same “standards”. With them getting this much closer, “IE Only” seems
more of a crutch to me, one that web developers should really get away

What “IE Only” Means to Me

When I hear or see “IE Only”, I see a few things:

  • I’m an old school dev that knows the IE hacks and refuses to learn the
    new code that works on most browsers.
  • I’m in a hurry (or maybe just lazy), and my website generation tools
    are optimized for IE.
  • I don’t have time to test other browsers.
  • I don’t care about the other browsers.
  • I don’t know where I can learn more about technologies that would work in more than just IE.

“IE Only” seems to be more of an excuse to get out of writing the code the
right away.

But why the IE hate?

As a web developer, it isn’t my job to force my end user to lock into a
browser. That means that just because {insert browser name here} is my
favorite browser, I can’t develop strictly for it and tell everyone else
that they have to use it. It’s my responsibility to work with technology
that will get the information out to as much of my audience as possible.

It isn’t that I hate IE – I use Internet Explorer as my primary browser on
at least one of my machines. It’s that I’m tired of seeing developers
taking the easy way out. Although it might take a little time to learn
the code that works cross-browser, that time spent means that you’ll be
able to disseminate your information to a broader audience.

In my friend’s case, the “IE Only” claim translated into not fully
understanding how browsers handle the technology. Unfortunately, I had
run into similar issues, but I had done the research to a point to know
how to massage the other browsers to get them to work.

But I want to use technology that will only work in {insert browser name here}.

Then that’s your choice to use that technology. However, keep in mind
that a lot of technology nowadays is being developed to run on multiple
browsers and platforms. For example, Silverlight and Flash both have
plugins that work in an assortment of browsers and operating systems. By
choosing an obscure format that limits itself to one particular browser,
you’re limiting your end users and narrowing your audience.

My Challenge to Other Web Developers

I’m going to issue a challenge to my fellow web developers. If you’re
working on new apps that are “IE Only”, ask yourself “Why?” Why is the
app designated as such? What browsers are its users most likely going to
use? If IE is not the sole answer, then maybe take a look at updating the
code to be a bit more inclusive of other browsers.

Get rid of the “IE Only” crutch and become a stronger web developer!

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