graphicpush

Thoughts on branding, design, writing and life by Kevin Potts. Established 2003.

Finding New Ways to Break and then Test CSS

While Peter-Paul Koch addresses developers who go looking for problems in current browsers, and then fix these nuances through weird CSS hacks that might break down when the next release of the browser comes around the corner. Meanwhile, Mr. Maddalone accidentally/intentionally figured out how to run multiple versions of Internet Explorer on one machine.

Peter-Paul Koch published an excellent article on Digital Web magazine about the increasing complexity of CSS-based layouts. Specifically, he addresses developers who go looking for problems in current browsers, and then fix these nuances through weird CSS hacks that might break down when the next release of the browser comes around the corner.

The author sums up the issue quite nicely by saying, “Instead of seeking false comfort in hacks that seem all the more comfortable because of their complexity, you should accept uncertainty as a basic principle.” Web development through CSS has become even more complex than nested tables. Years ago, force-fitting seventeen layers of nested tables into pixel-rigid layouts was considered mastering web design. Now, creating nested divs and 25k CSS files is considered the new cool thing all in the name of W3C validity. It may be a better, more standards compliant means to an end, but we’re still working with large chunks of questionable code.

Of course, this is all in the interest of backward, current and forward compatibility with as many browsers as possible. And in the spirit of testing on those browsers, Joe Maddalone made an interesting discovery last week.

As reported by just about every web design blog in this arm of the Milky Way, Mr. Maddalone accidentally/intentionally figured out how to run multiple versions of Internet Explorer on one machine without separate OSes, partitions or other nonsense. Eradicating a few DLL files was all it took. Go figure. Ryan Parman stripped out the garbage and repackaged versions 3.0 (useful one there), 4.01, 5.01 and 5.5. All of these will run concurrently with IE6 on Windows 98 through Server 2003, though there seems to be some performance issues with 3.0. Regardless, get them before Microsloth’s army of flying monkey lawyers shuts the whole operation down.