Ethan Marcotte now blogs at Unstoppable Robot Ninja.

Weblog entry:

"DASIE, DASIE, give me your browser, do…"

Found via Scripting News:

I personally feel that IE has now taken Netscape 4’s old position as the boat anchor being dragged behind the internet. So yeah lets start a badge campaign to complain about the lack of development/innovation in Internet Explorer.

I suggest we call the new organization D.A.S.I.E. (Designers Against Stagnate Internet Explorer).

What do you guys think?

Bryan Bell, Anyone want to start a club?

I suppose that this is a good problem to have.

If I recall correctly, the goals of the WaSP’s Browser Upgrade Campaign were twofold: to not only adjure browser makers that they bootstrap their products with improved support for web standards, but also to demonstrate to casual web users the advantages of surfing the web with those browsers that did properly support those standards. In effect, the BUC created a safe place for designers interested in standards compliance, urging them to move beyond the 4.0 browsers and toward a forward-compatible way of doing good work. And as the the BUC page mentions, today’s web does indeed ha[ve] a much different complexion; the campaign itself has been retired, having reaped a large amount of fruit from its efforts. Sentiments like those expressed in Bryan’s post further validate the efforts of the BUC; designers have gotten a taste of what standards-compliant CSS and HTML can do for them, and they like it.

But sadly, all’s not well: with the one-two blows of Microsoft announcing the discontinuance of IE for the Macintosh and Windows IE SP1 marked the final standalone version of that browser, things are beginning to look bleak; while IE for Windows has the greatest browser market share, it is also the most deficient in utilizing web standards. While browsers like Mozilla Firebird, Opera, Camino, and Safari have continued to innovate, Microsoft has allowed its browser to stagnate. The obvious danger here is that sites will have to be coded to Redmond’s lowest common denominator for some time, and our pages — and our users — will suffer for it.

So, needless to say, some action needs to be taken. But with that said, I can’t help but feel that an effort like DASIE represents something of a step back. That’s not to say that I disagree with the sentiment, or the frustration behind it; however, the drawbacks to the DASIE initiative seem to outweigh the potential benefits.

One user in favor of DASIE recommended building some Best viewed with… badges for members’ webpages; this mentality sounds very much like a throwback to the Web of 1997, in which standards were dismissed by browser vendors who were trying to push their proprietary innovations on the marketplace; if you poured your time and energy into rolling out Netscape’s hot-to-trot <BLINK> tag onto your pages, you’d pepper your site with NS4-only badges. Both the badge and the sentiment to which it speaks are counter to the vision of a unified, standards-compliant Web; we should be admonishing Microsoft for letting its browser development languish rather than telling users to download the latest nightly build of Firebird so that they can read our weblogs.

And the name seems problematic as well; by labelling the concern as one coming specifically from Designers, the righteous indignation behind the initiative is relegated to a relatively small portion of the web’s population. The average visitor to your site doesn’t care about CSS3 selectors, or what semantic markup can do for them; they came looking for content, and the concerns of web designers are probably — and justifiably — the last thing on their minds. We should instead be educating the common web user on the advantages of tabbed browsing, Mozilla’s Find As You Type technology, and other web innovations; educate your users as to browsing alternatives available to them, rather than chiding them for using the application that came preinstalled on their OS.

At the end of all this rambling, I’d like to make a proposal: that the WaSP revisit/revive the BUC. With all that’s going on in the world of Redmond, I do think that some action needs to be taken. However, the frustration of web designers needs to be channeled through an organization that at once has the web’s best interests in mind and the respect of software makers throughout the online industry. Help us, O WaSP, for we know not what we do — we just know we need to do something, and soon.

Update: Ah. Well, I can see that I managed to cover some already well-covered ground — specifically, another proposal for a BUC 2.0, and Zeldman’s rebuttal. Though Zeldman’s dismissal did come prior to the death of IE for the Macintosh and the announcement that users would have to wait for the next version of Windows to get a new IE — given that, it’ll be interesting to see what, if anything, comes out of the folks from WaSP.


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