While ridding my stylesheet of newly unnecessary vendor specific prefixes for certain css3 declarations it came to my attention that articles demonstrating new features for internet development, in this case html5 and css3, still including, “DO NOT TRY THIS AT HOME,” warnings as if a professional developer researching said “experimental” feature would immediately apply said feature to their biggest clients busiest websites. More to the point after reading the following “disclaimer” excerpted from an article at webdesignerdepot.com regarding css3 transitions I had a whole new thought…
A Brief Note on Design Enhancements
Before we continue, let me emphasize one point: never rely on styles for website functionality if the styles are not browser interoperable (i.e. available on all common browsers).
One more time for those who missed it: never rely on styles for website functionality if the styles are not browser interoperable.
That said, you can use styles, such as transitions, as design enhancements to improve the user experience, without sacrificing usability for those who cannot see them. This is okay as long as you could otherwise live without the transitions and users can still complete their tasks.
One of the things I remember most from a speed reading course I took was the professor saying (admittedly in regards to test taking) was, “Statements beginning with ‘always’ or ‘never’ are always false.” And in this case the author of the quoted article above begins with a fatherly lecture on what I should never do. Firstly you aren’t my dad and as my real dad will attest I don’t listen well to those kinds of demands in the first place. Secondly your statement is inherently false.
The point being, on a practical level, if the demographic of my app/site/business is twenty something hipster geeks then I can pretty safely require them to have the latest and greatest browser/app/phone/toaster to use my cool new app/site/business.
But on a less practical and more personal level if I feel as though I want to use a bleeding edge internet design feature consequences be damned, well isn’t that the kind of ballsy do-it-my-way kind of attitude which supposedly makes the future happen? Because in my mind being practical isn’t always what the world needs.
In an otherwise informative article instructing on new technology usage is it really necessary to include a, “Close cover before striking warning?” Personally I think not. More importantly this kind of prudish thinking in web development, generally cow-towing to uninformed shortsighted executives and out of fear of losing a sale for being forward thinking, is why there are still serious discussions happening in 2011 about how to develop for IE6.
The fact is internet technology is inherently a new technology changing, morphing, and improving everyday. Yet designers and developers have their hands tied behind their back primarily by business concerns that someone using a PII with Netscape 4.0 won’t be able to use their site. In some cases it isn’t even about that person being able to access the site, but that when they do get to the site that it won’t work right and this will somehow make the company look bad.
But whatever the reason a ten year old html spec still isn’t complete I suggest to you today that backwards compatibility online is just plain silly.
Indeed I have reached the point where discussing HTML5 or CSS3 as something NEW and EXCITING is just a little bit absurd and a lot annoying. And yet this isn’t even close to the real reason online backwards compatibility is silly.
Unlike other technologies where forcing end users to have bleeding edge technology typically requires an outlay of cash, once you have access to the internet, all the software you need to use it is free. Yes, you heard me, software to use the internet is free!
Not only is it free but by not updating internet capable software on a regular basis individuals and businesses are exposing themselves to all manner of hacking, viruses, identity theft, and general invasion of privacy.
As a developer, when I think about all the stuff I have been told not to do by other industry professionals because it is too new, and I consider that from the perspective that all software people need to enjoy just about everything online is FREE and by not taking advantage of these free REGULAR UPDATES so graciously offered by a variety of internet software developers to protect everyone from the evil people in the world, I have to ask myself, “Why and how exactly is anything online too new?”
But even if i come back to reality for a moment and accept the world as a complex place where certain companies and governments choose to use a ten year old browser (IE6) by choice and that the b2b and b2g markets simply can’t afford to not support IE6 as if it were a full fledged browser, this still doesn’t explain why web professionals who write for the web continue to “warn others” about what they should and shouldn’t do, especially if all I want to do is use modern technology that is part of some set of supposed standards which I rigorously attempt to follow.
If anything I propose that we all start encouraging everyone to use the hell out of all the new internet technology, especially HTML5 and CSS3 and things like transitions/transforms. We should be making designers and developers feel like schmucks if they aren’t using everything available to them. Maybe then those odd little people who are still using IE6 will finally be forced to upgrade (and I won’t be forced to fight viruses while I write this post – seriously!).
And if we don’t, then I don’t want to hear anymore whining on forums and in article comments about, “Where are my transitions?” Or why can’t I do css drop-shadows on my companies corporate site. You can’t do it because you are afraid. So quit living in fear and make the internet a happier, safer place by forcing people, including your boss, your customers, and your grandma to use a modern browser.
Postscript: To be clear, you should start using, at the very least, any and all browser capabilities and internet technologies that have been supported by all major browsers for at least a month. Any browser versions prior to that and consequential end user experience is to be blamed on them, moreover they are to blamed for every virus and incident of identity theft. I also propose legislation that would result in a fine of $1000 and/or 6 months in prison for failing to update your browser within 30 days of a new release being freely offered. By taking these very necessary steps we will not only rid ourselves of viruses but help supplement local government coffers with much needed income at the same time. My sensible proposal is a boon to humanity at large. Let me know what you think.