HTML and CSS Reference
In-Depth Information
In the late 2000s and early 2010s, one of the biggest agonies regarding backward compatibility was the support
for IE6. Its market share decreased slowly up to 2007 when it lost its popularity considerably, mainly because of the
new versions of Windows and their new Explorer versions, 12 as well as the growing popularity of competitors such as
Mozilla Firefox, Apple Safari, and Google Chrome. There was a really good reasoning against the obsolete browser.
First, serious security holes have been pointed out during the years that have been partially covered by later patches.
However, thanks to growing needs, new functions have been introduced in other browsers and in the newer versions
of Internet Explorer. All modern browsers support XML technologies, RSS feeds, and tabbed browsing, for example.
IE8, IE9, and especially IE10 were big steps toward standard compliance and modern functions. Even Microsoft
recommended IE6 users to upgrade [116, 117]. Software giants like Google stopped supporting older browsers, which
is another reason for the upgrade [118]. In 2014, the support for Windows XP has ended, and with the more and more
affordable and powerful modern computers and mobile devices, there is no reason not to use a modern browser with
satisfactory HTML5 and CSS3 support. It is also a great relief for web designers that don't have to deal with obsolete
browsers anymore.
The major drawback of backward compatibility is that it hinders the widespread use of new technologies at
some point. Still, backward compatibility should be maximized whenever possible. Because of the incomplete or
unsatisfactory standard support of older browsers, providing backward compatibility often results in browser-targeted
hacks and code fragments, as well as nonstandard and even deprecated markup that should be eliminated.
A useful tool to achieve or maximize backward compatibility is the JavaScript library “Modernizr,” which detects
browser support for the latest web standards, including HTML5 and CSS3 modules [119]. This software determines
whether a currently used browser has implemented a given feature, so web designers can apply new technologies in
the browsers that support them and create a fallback mechanism for those browsers that do not.
Forward Compatibility
While a new browser release can be a problem for developers of nonstandard and especially browser-specific web
sites, those web designers who write standard-compliant code do not have to worry, because standard compliance
ensures forward compatibility . Standardized web documents can be easily upgraded to newer standards.
Beyond content, functionality is one of the most important web site features, without which all other efforts would
be useless, including a fancy design. While functionality can be ensured by developing with web standards, this often
seems like some kind of sacrifice. For example, the latest standards are not necessarily supported by some rendering
engines, so web designers have to make a decision: either write standard-compliant code and not support some
browsers or provide nonstandard, browser-independent code. The better the standards support in web browsers, the
less frequent this dilemma.
Device Independence
Internet access is no longer restricted to desktop computers. Mobile devices such as tablets, smartphones, and some
e-book readers also have Internet-browsing capabilities. However, some devices—especially the handheld ones—
have limited screen size and scrollability. Mobile-readiness is more important than ever, which also contributes to
web accessibility and usability.
12 Internet Explorer 6 was shipped with Windows XP. Versions 7 and 8 can be used on XP, too, while IE9 requires Windows Vista or
Windows 7. IE10 runs under Windows 7 and above.
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