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Joining the Ranks: Abolishing IE6

Several months ago I read a post on template club YOOtheme's forums where one of the dev team was getting feedback from club members about potentially removing support for IE6 in the club's templates.  This was at a time when IE7 hadn't been around very long, and the feedback was unsurprisingly against the idea.

Looking at YT's increasingly adventurous designs, you can see why they were so keen to get rid of IE6 support; some of there work must have taken a great number of hours to get working on the ageing browser.

"As of January 1st, 2010, RocketTheme will no longer be creating templates, themes, extensions, etc, that support Internet Explorer 6."

And here we are, half-way through 2009, and still struggling with supporting this non-compliant piece of software, even though we're now into IE version 8 (which sees a significant step in the right direction, albeit the browser still pales compared to the likes of Firefox and Safari).

As web design evolves, it's almost certainly being held back in some respects because of the whole cross-browser support issue...designers and developers will sometimes have to make the choice of compromising a design just so that it works on the older technology, which is a real shame.

So, I was most pleased to read Andy Miller's post on the Team RocketTheme blog this morning officially announcing they will cease supporting IE6 from January next year.  As one of the top and most significant Joomla! template developers on the planet, this is a significant bit of news - a pretty bold step really - and likely to influence other designers and developers in the Joomla! community (and beyond) to follow their lead.

Template club Joomlapraise have already committed themselves to this movement shortly after Andy's post, and I'm quite certain there will be more to come.

What Does This Mean for IE6 Users?

IE6 users will *need* to upgrade at some point, period.

Let's face it, IE6 should have been end-of-life years ago. It's poor implementation of CSS standards and numerous layout bugs have long been the bane of web developers across all platforms.

The browser will be 8 years old this year; one one hand, quite an achievement, but at the same time surprising that users continue to use it when there are far better options available.  And in some ways, as web developers conscious of cross-browser support, that's our fault for supporting it too widely and for too long.

IE6 users will *need* to upgrade at some point, period.  The more websites out there that don't work properly on IE6, the better for pushing this action forward.  In my experience, careful coding means that IE6 support usually isn't too much of a problem, so it's not like the site's won't work at all - they just work look as nice or function as well as they do in other browsers.

There are already some high-profile developers (Carsonified springs to mind, check out some of their recent works in IE6) who obviously aren't wasting the time to make their sites look consistent in IE6, so this is hardly a new idea - but it needs some real weight from these big developers to make a significant difference.

Making the Change

Over the next few months, ToolboxCreations' developments will start to phase out support for IE6 unless specifically requested by our clients.  That's not to say our sites won't work in IE6 - serious layout problems will be accomodated where possible, but unsupported features such as PNG Alpha transparencies and CSS pseudo-classes won't be compromised so that they work on IE6, and we won't be adding hacks or Javascript to make sure they work on IE6.

For our Jootheme services, from January 2010, IE6 support will be an additional extra and will carry an additional cost.

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