Walking down memory lane with Internet Explorer

I just recently stumbled across this article about the demise of Internet Explorer. Or is it evolution? Whatever. Moving forward, Microsoft is working on a browser dubbed Spartan and has plans of retiring Internet Explorer.

I’ve been waiting for this day for forever. Even currently working on a project at work with the luxury of using 11 as the minimum browser version of Internet Explorer, I’ve come across things that it still doesn’t support.

Grrrr. IE. Grrrr.

And that is the feeling amongst most web developers. I haven’t met one that writes code for the Internet Explorer browser. Most of us work in Webkit or Mozilla and test after-the-fact in IE.

But, it wasn’t always like that. There was a time when I thought Internet Explorer was the better browser.


That was back in the 90s when I was working with IE 3 and Netscape 4. It was much easier to get things to look right in IE 3. And, so, with that thought, I wanted to take a walk down memory lane with Internet Explorer.

I don’t really remember the blur of IE 3 to IE 5.5. It was a long time ago and I wasn’t just doing web coding then, I was also creating multimedia CD-Roms using Macromedia Director and similar programs. But I remember IE 5.5. Because I kept lobbying for us to drop programming support of it in my company. And when we did I was ecstatic. Little did I know how long IE 6 was to stick around. And yet, once IE 7 came into town I realized that IE 6 was actually the better browser. But I move too fast. We need to visit with IE 6 for a bit.

During all those years with IE 6 I learned of doctypes (there was an invalid one going around early on – Dreamweaver was generating it – that caused a lot of problems, basically putting your site into quirks mode), haslayout and the holly hack (and then the zoom fix), the acid test, css hacks for targeting IE (like *html), conditional comments, and more that I’m sure I’m forgetting. And then there were satirical sites like http://www.ie6death.com/, helpful sites like Position is Everything (thank you, Big John, you saved my sanity), and shims like IE7.js (it would have been nice if the real IE 7 actually supported the stuff this shim did!) by Dean Edwards.

As I mentioned, when IE 7 finally got here, I quickly learned it was a buggy browser. It was really broken in right-to-left languages, forcing me to resort to layout tables once in awhile. I think it was during that point I looked into Google Chromeframe, and decided it was probably too buggy to recommend to my employer after monitoring some forums for a bit. Disappointing, but it has been discontinued, so glad I made the decision I did.

The one upside to the IE 6 and 7 years is that I became the go-to person for IE issues. Not that I was an expert on them, by any means, but I was so used to figuring out workarounds that I could isolate the issue in no time. Nostalgic days, but I am happy I am not needed in that capacity anymore. I also created this site during that time, to document things I was running into so I could find the solution again.

So there you have it. I’ve dreamt of the days where we could code for modern browsers without looking back. And we are pretty much there. Onward, fellow HTML & CSS coders. It is a brand new day.


gertrudeThis post has been a musing by Gertrude, a long-time HTML/CSS developer.

She remembers Internet Explorer when he was a just a baby.


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