Posts tagged "IE7"

June 17, 2013

Muse 5 Code Improvements and IE 7

On June 17th, Adobe released Muse CC 5.0 as part of its Creative Cloud offering. This update to Muse CC includes numerous features such as Scroll Motion animations (also known as parallax scrolling), the ability to use Muse Forms with any hosting provider that supports PHP, In-Browser Editing of Muse generated sites hosted by Business Catalyst, a new Layers Panel, and Vertical Text. This release also includes several bug fixes, minor code-gen improvements to simplify the HTML and improve fidelity in older browsers and a significant improvement to the handling of rotated objects.

In my post about Muse 4 code improvements, I described an improvement in how Muse deals with rotated objects in Phone and Tablet layouts in which the CSS3 transform property is used to rotate objects in the browser instead of rasterizing the objects. There are multiple advantages to this approach including higher quality rendering, less data to download to the local browser and therefore faster performance, and text remains selectable and searchable. Muse CC 5.0 extends this approach to desktop layouts. That is, rotation by itself is no longer a cause for rasterization in any Muse layout and all you need to do to get this improvement is republish your Muse site from Muse CC 5.0.

So what was the hangup and why were we able to release the improvement for phone and tablet layouts in Muse 4? CSS3 properties like ‘transform’ are supported by modern browsers, including those on phones and tablets. However, older browsers, which primarily includes Internet Explorer 8 and older, do not support CSS3 properties and therefore require custom JavaScript code to implement the missing browser feature. For rotation, this JavaScript code had to be tailored to work on both IE 7 an IE 8 because there are significant behavioral differences in the two IE versions. If we could have ignored IE 7, we would have been able to release the CSS3 rotation improvement in Muse 4 without restrictions. However, because we promise to preserve Muse layouts across supported browsers, including IE 7, we decided to delay the improvement for desktop layouts until Muse CC 5.0. This delay gave us time to improve the JavaScript implementation for rotation to support both IE 7 and IE 8. This example leads to several questions including who uses IE 7, what about graceful degradation, and why not give users the choice of whether to use a feature that can only be viewed from modern browsers?

Who Uses Internet Explorer 7?

Chances are, not you.

In 2012, Microsoft began automatically upgrading the browser installed on Windows XP, Vista and Windows 7 via Microsoft Update. For Windows XP users, this update results in IE 7 being replaced with IE 8. If you are using Internet Explorer 7 and not doing so for testing purposes, then you are running an old version of Windows and chances are either do not have access to the internet, perhaps because you are behind a firewall that prevents access, or you have disabled Microsoft Update.

Statistics

Those who monitor browser usage are reporting a steady decline of Internet Explorer 7 usage. According to StatCounter.com, global usage of Internet Explorer 7 dropped from almost 3% in March, 2012 to 0.54% during May 2013. Internet Explorer 6 usage in May, 2013 was 0.24%.

StatCounter Browser Version, May 2013

Global usage of Internet Explorer 7 is down to 0.54% in May, 2013…and dropping.

Also, according to analytics from our CDN data, fewer than 3% of visitors to Muse sites in May 2013 were from people using Internet Explorer 7 and that number is dropping.

What about Graceful Degradation?

Graceful degradation is a fault tolerance strategy for situations where a browser does not fully implement a feature. Instead of taking the approach that a browser is either fully supported or not at all, the idea is to employ a strategy that more broadly defines browser support and introduces the notion of levels of support.  There is a very good description of Graded Browser Support at yuilibrary.com that I encourage you to read. For the most part, Muse has employed a strategy of attempting to make a page look the same in all browsers. Typically, that means either rasterizing in cases where there isn’t support for an HTML feature or writing a JavaScript polyfill to add support in older browsers. However, there are already examples of graceful degradation in Muse. For example, Internet Explorer 7 and 8 render drop shadows as solid and opaque where as shadows in modern browsers can have transparency and are knocked out by the object casting the shadow. In order to prevent the Internet Explorer 7 & 8 shadow from bleeding through the object, we disable shadows in Internet Explorer 7 & 8 if the object casting the shadow has a transparent fill while preserving the shadow in modern browsers.

IE7 default rendering of shadow on item with transparent fill.

IE7 default rendering of shadow on item with transparent fill.

IE 7 with shadow disabled as a graceful degradation.

IE 7 with shadow disabled as a graceful degradation.

Modern browser rendering of shadow on transparent filled item.

Modern browser rendering of shadow on transparent filled item.

 

Considering that Internet Explorer 7 is becoming so little used, diverting development resources to preserving the layout in that browser doesn’t make a lot of sense. That said, there are still a significant number of people using Internet Explorer 8 and we are committed to fully supporting that browser by continuing to write JavaScript polyfills when appropriate. Using graceful degradation as a strategy for Internet Explorer 7 gives us more freedom to use HTML5 constructs. This rotation example begs the question, why not include a set of features that are only available for modern browsers so that users can decide when to gracefully degrade the rendering in older browsers in favor of a better experience in modern browsers?

Modern Browser Only Features

HTML5 includes a number of features that older browsers do not support and some features that only some modern browsers support. Moreover, there can be and often are significant differences between modern browsers in how they render or support various features. For example, HTML5 supports a border-image property where an image can be rendered as a border pattern. However, there is a wide variety of support for this feature in different browsers as you can see from the following screen shots.

Chrome

Chrome rendering of the CSS3 border-image property.

Chrome rendering of the CSS3 border-image property. Notice the clipped portions at the corners.

Firefox

Firefox rendering of the CSS3 border-image property.

Firefox rendering of the CSS3 border-image property. Non-uniform scaling is used to prevent clipping.

Internet Explorer 9

Internet Explorer 9 does not support border-image.

Internet Explorer 9 does not support border-image.

Would you be in favor of Muse CC adding a set of features that can only be rendered by modern browsers as long as it was made clear that they will not work in older browsers or will be gracefully degraded in older browsers? What if the rendering of a feature differed significantly between modern browsers? Note that taking this approach in Muse 4 with CSS rotation wouldn’t have helped get the feature into Muse 4 because we didn’t have enough time and resources to add the proper user interface for such a feature.

Back To Internet Explorer 7

The Muse CC team will be reducing its investment in supporting Internet Explorer 7 by taking a more graded approach that uses a strategy of graceful degradation. Muse CC sites will not drop content when viewed in Internet Explorer 7. However, the Muse CC team will no longer be writing custom JavaScript specific to IE 7 to enable a visual effect. For customers, that decision might be considered good news as it frees up resources to develop other features or solutions. This decision also gives us the opportunity to revisit some of our code and improve the use of HTML5 constructs. That said, it is always our policy to gracefully degrade whenever possible so you shouldn’t worry about whether visitors to your site can access the content of your site. With only 1 in 200 people surfing the web using Internet Explorer 7 and decreasing, you might ask what took us so long? We take browser support very seriously so you don’t have to. As always, you design, we code.

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