Sometimes a Museum is the Right Place

An article by David Brooks on September 3, 2008

 

A vase, not quite suitable for a museum, if you ask me.

When I first received my drivers license I was thrilled to inherit an old van that my parents had left sitting around for a number of years. It was a 1990 Pontiac Transport, and it looked like a spaceship. It did well for a few years, I drove it to high school and then to college. It was a good car, and then one day I went to take a drive in the snow and the engine locked.

When a car gets too old you put it in a show room or a garage and you stop driving it. It becomes a relic, you know it still works (unless of course it’s my old Pontiac Transport) but you don’t drive it because it’s more fit for a museum than the road. …In my case the museum was my back yard, and it sat there for eight years.

But I digress… If I’m going to leave my old car behind I need a new car, right? So I go to the car dealer and ask the salesperson what they have for sale on the lot. Without blinking they offer four different options.

  1. The Aston Martin DBS
  2. The BMW Z4 Roadster
  3. The Chrysler PT Cruiser
  4. And a Nissan Xterra

Now by the look of at least two of those cars I assume I cannot afford them, even if I sell my house. But that’s when the salesperson tells me that they giving them away at no cost to me whatsoever. At this point, it’s probably good to end the analogy.

So what am I getting at?

Internet Explorer 6 is my Pontiac Transport. It was good for a time but now the engine has locked and in order to use it I end up pushing it around the neighborhood. And I’m not mocking, really. It was my browser of choice for a long time, but it had its day.

We like progress, even our analog televisions are being phased out. (Or so we’re told…) The progress has moved onto the web, and it puts us in an amazing time in history. Web design/development is coming (or has come) into its own, we’re using it in very advanced ways to accomplish some truly amazing feats of technological strength. We are almost to the point of competition with traditional software, if you really think about it. But what’s holding us back from a quicker growth pattern? Internet Explorer 6, unfortunately.

Newer browsers such as Firefox, Safari and Internet Explorer 7 tend to look similar and present information in similar ways. Internet Explorer 6 typically does its own thing. Many times when you want to do something unique on the web IE6 is the thing that holds you back. You end up spending hours trying to make a site or product work for everyone, and the result is a less impressive item because of all the effort that goes toward making it work for old technology. It’s also less impressive because some things you want to do just will not work with older browers. You may then be required not to be as forward thinking as you want because your supervisor doesn’t like to leave anyone behind. (That’s not my case, just what I’ve heard others saying… for the record.)

But there comes a time when you just can’t keep plugging the hole in a leaking bucket, you have to get a new bucket. And I think now is that time. With some amazing browser options out there I don’t see a reason we need to keep Internet Explorer 6.

Correction, I see one instance where it seems acceptable to keep IE6 as your main browser. That case is if by chance you have a computer that is running Windows 98 or maybe even Windows ME (if we stretch it out a bit). On those systems IE7 may not work, and depending on the amount of system RAM and processor speed of your computer Firefox and Safari may not be an option. But if you’re on Windows XP there isn’t really an excuse. Windows Update can install Internet Explorer 7 with little effort and Firefox or Safari are even easier installs.

It all comes down to this…

If you are primarily using Internet Explorer 6 you are missing out. If you didn’t like the web before now you might have even had a good excuse, IE6. But give it a try, download Firefox, Safari or even upgrade to IE7. Not only will it function better but it will also look nicer.

At this point I don’t feel like it’s responsible of me to continue full support for Internet Explorer 6. Why? Because if you see your friends doing something that isn’t helpful to their well being you say something, you try and show them the right way. Internet Explorer 6 isn’t like a drug or some crime to be prevented, but it will impact your experience along with progress on the web in general.

In an attempt to be a responsible web designer I’m announcing that, like others, from this moment on in my own work I am no longer completely supporting Internet Explorer 6. That doesn’t mean that my sites won’t display at all in IE6 or that I’m going to take hostile measures, it just means that it won’t be as feature-rich of an experience as with some of the other browsers out there. I’m not interested in using technology as a limiting factor on my work, I’m interested in keeping good people from using a browser that isn’t web-worthy anymore.

PS. And if you’re wondering which car was being compared to which browser… I’ll just leave that up to speculation.

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About David Brooks

David Brooks is the owner of the small creative studio, Northward Compass, based out of Orlando, Florida. He writes electronic and ambient music as Light The Deep, and fantasy stories about a place called Elerien.

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