The internet will never stop growing and that's what makes it so exciting. There are constantly new developments happening every single day; every moment even, a new feature will appear that will enhance your web experience. This is what makes being a web developer exciting, being involved in a field that changes every day.
At this exact point in time the web is moving at a very fast pace. The amount of elements available for use on the web is ever increasing and with HTML5 and CSS3 really starting to kick in I think we are going to see changes in the way that the web is designed and used that could never have been anticipated before; very exciting stuff.
As is always the case when something is moving fast, there will always be someone left behind. This is definitely the case with the progression of internet browsers. With the implementation of more and more features into a web experience it leaves a developer with a difficult question; should I really continue spending valuable time ensuring that the website I have just developed works on obsolete, dated browsers, or should we leave the stragglers behind and give up developing websites to work on browsers that are just not up to par with today's common internet practices?
A current debate that I have with myself is the question if Internet Explorer is becoming one of those dated browsers? As a developer I think so. Currently 14.3% of the overall users of the internet use Internet Explorer as their browser of choice; furthermore 7.7% of these users are using version IE8 or older. This overall figure is decreasing steadily and it is really not hard to see why really. For starters IE8's inability to support CSS3 and HTML5 makes for a frustrating experience when I'm developing a website. The inability to support these really limits the possibilities as to what a website is capable of. With IE8 it isn't possible to develop a website that provides a user with the most up-to-date experience that the web can offer. Furthermore a client won't be happy when the website you have made for them seems five years out of date.
With the internet growing at the rate that it is, is there really the space in the competition for browsers that aren't keeping up to mark. It's no secret that Google Chrome and Firefox are the leaders of the competition (with good reason) but this is more than just bad news for Internet Explorer in terms of its own dwindling popularity. The big issue is its limitations through not supporting CSS3 and HTML5.
At the moment there are still ways to get round this issue. If you are a developer that wants to make sure that your website supports all web browsers, a great tool I would recommend is caniuse.com. This is a nice tool to implement when you're developing a website; it provides compatibility tables showing which desktop and mobile browsers support what features of HTML5, CSS3, SVG and a few more, which is useful for finding out which elements you will need to compensate for. Another useful tool you can use to cover up some of the new elements that CSS3 brings to the table unsupported by IE8 is CSS3 Pie. However this process takes a long time and in the long run is it really worth it?
The increasingly obsolete nature of Internet Explorer will only continue to hinder it in the future. Older browsers are being left behind and Internet Explorer is one of these; jQuery has already dropped support for IE6 and IE7 and the release of jQuery 2.0 will not support IE8. This makes you wonder is it really worth your time and your client's fixing a website for a browser that's out of date; becoming increasingly obsolete, declining in users and in my opinion just down right ugly? I think that the answer to this will eventually be no as Internet Explorer's usership begins to peter out.
One thing that all aging browsers could benefit from is auto-updates. Though I know that Internet Explorer have begun to enforce a required update for IE6/7 users to IE8, but look at Google Chrome for an example. As a developer I believe that Chrome is the standard that all browsers should be meeting. Automatic updating makes developing a website so much easier as I don't have to worry about checking old versions of the browser for compatibility of features; I know that if a website works on the version of Chrome I am using it will work on all other versions universally.
Currently with my work with Kalexiko I do ensure that websites support IE8 in function and visual elements, but as the Internet Explorer browser becomes more dated I believe that the technology of the internet will progress too far for it to be a remotely useful browser; you cannot develop a client a website that doesn't take advantage of all the internet has to offer- where's the excitement in that?
I don't believe that this is a bad thing at all. Of course Internet Explorer is like a luminary as far as the internet goes. It has always been there. However, if you love the internet, developing and the progression of possibilities by cutting out the old and pushing the new I think that the level of website development and usability will be pushed to the next level.
For those reading this who aren't developer types and can't bear to step away from Internet Explorer, then the least you can do is install the Chrome frame feature that will bring your IE browser somewhere up to the mark of Chrome and make us developers happier and our jobs easier. You can download it from here.
So now it's up to you, are you going to continue worrying when making your websites whether an old hat browser will support your creation and let your learning curve plateau; or are you going to grab the bull by the horns and steam roll your way into the future and keep going further. Will you be the kind of developer that embraces change and sets the standards for everyone else? It's our turn to make the difference. The technology is there so lets use it!