- The Eolas matter
So what the hell is going on?
Apple, Macromedia, RealNetworks, and Microsoft have all published technical papers detailing the impact of upcoming changes to IE/Win in the wake of the Eolas ruling — even Mozilla has joined the chorus, if only to assure its users that Gecko-based browsers won’t be adversely affected by the proposed solutions. But of course, we will be.
The above tech notes are disconcerting for a number of reasons (to say nothing of the sheer amount of development time required to implement across the web). First and foremost, I was under the assumption that Microsoft was to appeal the Eolas decision; should we assume otherwise, now that we’ve initial versions of the “new” IE available for download?
OBJECTelement for an ActiveX control has a new attribute:
NOEXTERNALDATA. Specify true for this attribute to indicate that the control does not access remote data and that Internet Explorer should not prompt the user. If a
PARAMelement does reference a remote source of data and you specify true for the
NOEXTERNALDATAattribute of the
OBJECTelement, the value of that
PARAMelement is not provided to the IPersistPropertyBag interface for the control.
So naturally, if you want your embedded content to display seamlessly within your page (that is, without a nasty popup window appearing), use the proprietary, invalid, and 100% IE-only
NOEXTERNALDATAattribute. I’m afraid that Zeldman’s portentous patent theories may have been dead on — I mean, if you were an IT manager forced to implement one of the following:
- a 22 characters-long HTML attribute fix that just happens to invalidate your site’s pages,
which would you pick to get your site to display correctly in the new IE? I mean, just because the pages aren’t valid, they still work, right? Right?
Once there is a perceived cost and/or liability associated with web standards, they’ll be permanently relegated to the realm of weblogs and personal sites. No matter the true ROI of standards-based design and development, mandating proprietary hacks such as the
NOEXTERNALDATAattribute contribute only to the fragmentation of the web — and of course, of the code used to power it. If the choice is between validity and functionality (albeit a proprietary, fragmented definition thereof), things don’t look too good for a unified approach to the web.
So at the end of the day, changes are on the horizon — and we’ve Eolas founder/CEO/sole employee Mike Doyle to thank for them. You’ll pardon us, Mike, if we’re not exactly brimming over with gratitude.