SourceForge drops IE 6 support

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: in IE6 - Click to enlarge in IE6 - Click to enlarge

Compare that to IE 7 & 8 (it looks the same in both):

sourceforge_ie7_thumb in IE7 - Click to enlarge

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[1], 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[2], 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.

6 responses to SourceForge drops IE 6 support


we’ve made “at least some effort to get their sites behaving reasonably well in IE6” for a looong time. we’ve maintained Windows XP + IE6 virtual machines for the last few years. at some point, we realized we were spending up to 20% of developer resources coding a graceful degradation for IE6 that represents 10% or less of our traffic (with monthly IE6 visits dropping by 5% every month, while IE7 and IE8 continue to gain).

with the release candidate and the the full launch of IE8, and considering gmail also dropped their IE6 support (, we decided to change our tactics – we now use Progressive Enhancement, rather than graceful degradation, and we no longer QA our pages on IE6. the site should be completely *functional* in IE6, though as you saw on the front page, some of the pretty newer styles and images will be missing.

we appreciate the comments and feedback though. I think we’re with the rest of the ‘net in wanting IE6 to fade away sooner rather than later; and we’re with the rest of OSS community in wanting Firefox to take over. :)


Luke, (or whomever at Sourceforge)
Then please fix your browser detection script so that when I go to the page in IE8 I won’t get the message…like I now DO.

Sourceforge doesn’t support Firefox v2.0 either apparantly. At least their phpbb forums don’t. I reported a bug & got a snide response to upgrade to FF3 even though I can’t (work machine). Sigh.

Well, I will drop support to FF3, Opera, Safari, NS6, Arachne, Mosaic, Kmeleon, wap browsers, palms, etc. because they are just merely a 3% of my visitors’ browser.

I thought Internet was something open to any sort of browsers but I should be wrong.

I also work for one of those dinosaur companies (multi-billion world wide corporation). I’m going to get a new computer in a couple months, it will have the corporate load of Windows XP and IE6, I will have no choice in the matter. The bottom line is that my stegosaurus boss thinks that ensuring our thousands of networked PC’s play nice together (and maintain sales and production) it’s more important than my ability to browse websites who seem to think that their anti-Microsoft views trump effective delivery of information and data.
I may be wrong, but it seems like sourceforge changed, not IE6. Were those changes needed to address issues that caused more than 10% the connections to fail? (the number that I’m told now fail due to non-support of IE6)
Here’s how it works in my world. My company (like most) has faced a lot of tough decisions over the past couple of years. Business conditions have led to a lot of good people loosing their jobs. If I make a change to one of our systems that eliminates 10% of our potential business, guess who’s name will be at the top of the next pink slip?

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