SourceForge has changed its appearance more often in the past 6 months than Joan Rivers’ face. Not in small ways either. I host Tubecaster on SourceForge and recently it seemed that every time I logged into the site they had completely re-themed.
Yesterday I was at work and trying to track down an Open Source hex editor so I thought I’d pop into SourceForge and browse their extensive software database. Even though other Open Source project hosting services have been gaining a lot of momentum lately SourceForge is still the first place I turn to when looking for Open Source apps. It still has the largest legacy range of software of any similar site. Anyway, I happened to be using IE 6 because it was part of the particular build on the PC I was using and, to my surprise, up popped a little information bar at the top of the screen, stating:
Your browser isn’t supported, so some things might not work as expected. Please upgrade to a newer version of IE, or to Firefox.
The web developer in me shrieked with joy, but the objective observer quickly overruled and made me think of all the corporates out there still on IE6. I can certainly speak for most of the clients I’ve worked with at the company I work for. Browser usage is a reasonably difficult metric to measure accurately in a big-picture sense, but I think it’s fair to say that we should still make some attempt at supporting it. It seems that the good folks at SourceForge quite literally haven’t even tried their site in IE6, even once:
Compare that to IE 7 & 8 (it looks the same in both):
I should point out that it is somewhat hypocritical of me to condemn this sort of behaviour, since I explicitly do not support any version of IE lower than 7 on the new Tubecaster site, but I would only do that on my own personal sites and never for a business or any other client.
Believe me when I say that I understand the pain of developing for IE6 – the constant hair pulling, beating and maiming of web standards, and horrors such as HasLayout – but I really believe that with the tools and knowledge available to us now, like these sites, which detail common known IE bugs and layout quirks, to Microsoft’s free Virtual PC 2007 and their free Virtual PC Windows XP IE images, there is little excuse for web developers to not make at least some effort to get their sites behaving reasonably well in IE6.
I’m not talking about getting everything pixel-perfect. Nobody that uses your websites for their intended purposes is going to notice the 2px misalignment on that floating image, or slightly overweight sidebar. As much as those extra pixels will scream at you, taunt you, every time you see them in IE6, just spare a thought for those users who, for one reason or another, cannot yet upgrade.
Don’t despair – Microsoft is well on the way to giving IE6 the boot, once and for all.
These images expire every few months, after which new ones are released. They seem to be valid for about 3-4 months at a time.