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IE8 Version Targeting causes quite a stir

Matthew Pennell

January 22, 2008 at 9:03 AM

Readers of the venerable A List Apart will already have read about IE8’s new version targeting (and Eric Meyer’s accompanying opinion piece) — and the announcement has elicited quite a few heated reactions, collated here for your convenience:

Microsoft’s own announcement drew both positive and negative comments
Jonathan Snook welcomes the change
Anne van Kesteren is not a fan
A Mozilla developer chimes in
PPK defines the semantics
An official Web Standards Project statement on their involvement
Jeremy Keith thinks the implementation is broken
Andy Budd sees opportunities for other browser vendors
Ethan Marcotte read it two weeks ago and still can’t decide
Zeldman steps up to defend the idea
John ‘jQuery’ Resig thinks the new tag is worthless
Gareth Rushgrove tentatively approves of the change
Dean Edwards posts some pertinent quotes from the WHATWG mailing list
Roger Johansson doesn’t think he likes it
Rachel Andrew sees it as a backwards step
Safari say they won’t be implementing version targeting
Hixie thinks the move could be construed as anti-competitive
Lachlan Hardy thinks we should accept the inevitable
Mike Davies says it’s the end of the line for IE
Eric Meyer expands on his thoughts
liorean approves of the proposed approach
John Resig notices the solution to everyone’s complaints
A long and thoughtful piece from James Bennett
More thoughts from Ethan
A well-reasoned assessment from Shelley Powers

And finally…

The controversy as acted out by toy lemurs :D

I’ll update this list as more opinions roll in — and, of course, please share your own take on the topic in the comments.


Jeremy Keith

January 23, 2008 at 2:36 AM

Matthew, you might want to read the content of my post as well as the title: I do NOT think that the idea is broken. I think the idea is perfectly fine. The implementation is broken because of the default behaviour. Please don’t misrepresent my position on this. Thanks.


January 23, 2008 at 3:59 AM

Jeremy: The trouble is, your post is titled “Broken.” Bloggers, in their haste to gather material, sometimes neglect to read a post in its entirety. They get a (not always correct) sense of what you’re saying, and bound off to fetch another link. Titles matter a lot, the more so because so many people read only a small part of your text.

Matthew Pennell

January 23, 2008 at 5:42 AM

Jeremy (and Jeffrey) – I did read your post (as I have all the posts that I linked to), and my choice of words was intended to convey exactly what you meant; perhaps our definition of ‘idea’ differs somewhat. Anyway, I’ve amended the link text now.

Jeremy Keith

January 23, 2008 at 3:45 PM

Jeffrey, with all due respect, I have no intention of altering my writing style to suit the short attention spans of people weaned on skimming Digg.

Matthew, thanks for updating the text of the hyperlink. I appreciate it.

Nick Finck

January 26, 2008 at 12:30 PM


I respect your choice to stand firm on your writing style. However, as Jeffrey pointed out, no one reads anymore. At times I want to scream “RTFP!” to everyone, but that wont get me too far. :)

David M. Converse

January 30, 2008 at 9:50 AM

Just one more thing from Microsoft that web developers can and should ignore. If nobody uses the new tags, it really won’t matter will it? MS will have wasted a bunch of time and effort for nothing.

Developers should build sites to standards (pick one!) and browsers should render them according to standards. That simple.


January 30, 2008 at 11:56 AM

What if it was the other way around? People who wanted IE’s quirk mode would add the meta tag “IE-NON_STANDARD” and the default would be the standards mode. It seems like the depreciated mode should be the one people should work around, not the new standards mode. Microsoft can explain to people complaining about the new browser breaking the site this easy fix, and maybe even nudge them to redesign with the new mode in mind as the old one is depreciated.

David R.

January 31, 2008 at 10:06 AM

I have an article over at WPDFD that attempts to take a neutral perspective of version targeting. You can find it here: Version Targeting: A Neutral Perspective

I like the idea of version targeting, and I’m glad it’s coming, but I’d rather have IE8 default to behaving as IE8 instead of deprecating itself to IE7. Seems kinda backwards to me.

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