When it arrives later this year, Internet Explorer 9 will support most of the latest decorations and behaviors in CSS3. But until then, you’re stuck with the same old workarounds for IE users.
Here’s something that might make your life as a designer a little bit easier: CSS3 Pie is a new library written by Jason Johnston that lets you use several of the latest CSS3 enhancements and still have them show up in Internet Explorer versions 6 through 8.
It creates DHTML behaviors that IE can understand, and then it controls how they’re presented. The library can be used to translate a few CSS decorations: border-radius, border-image, box-shadow, multiple background images and gradient backgrounds.
Right now, it’s just a demo, and since it uses .htc files for DHTML behaviors, it causes a serious performance hit on some versions of IE. It will likely become more useful in the future as Johnston builds it out. Follow Pie’s progress on Twitter.
Is it a good idea? On one hand, it’s just another life support mechanism for IE6. But it also gives us an easy enough fix where we can continue creating modern designs without having to worry as much about alienating those visitors stuck using browsers that don’t have proper CSS3 support.
Hat tip to Rey Bango at Ajaxian, who notes that CSS3 Pie deserves a spot on your shelf next to those other two libraries that perform similar magic tricks, Modernizr and html5shiv.
Every few months, we see a new set of statistics or a new report showing how Internet Explorer is losing browser share, becoming increasingly irrelevant or dying on the vine. This of course sets off ripples across the tech blogs, which gather into a wave of “Death of IE” posts that we all tweet, Digg and generally take pleasure in passing around and commenting on.
Which is not to say these blog posts are at all wrong or untrue. Internet Explorer is losing browser share, relevance and vitality. And more so lately than ever before — the most recent wave of “IE’s Dead” posts, which hit us this week, includes some sound analysis and stats that show IE is losing serious footing on the open web.
One key event was the inclusion of the browser selection screen for European Windows users, which Microsoft was forced to add following a recent ruling by the EU (We posted a preview of the screen last month). The browser choice screen gives users the option of downloading an alternative browser, and the immediate result of the feature’s rollout was a dip in IE’s market share.
Early data from Quantcast shows an immediate five percent decline. IE’s loss seems to have stabilized at around the three percent mark after a few days, though (maybe some of those who switched actually missed IE). The big winner among browser-makers seems to be Firefox, which saw around a two percent jump after the choice screen debuted.
Google’s products are mass market. It cannot afford to completely ignore a browser with as much market share as IE6 — according to one recent study, its share is still around 25 percent. What Google did is a little different. Because it’s a giant company with a lot of pull, it had Microsoft make the changes. Gmail engineers did not have to make a bunch of IE6-specific code tweaks. Instead, the tweaks are in IE6 itself.
One would assume these performance changes could benefit other applications as well, so this move is a boon for all. Of course, the fixes require users to install an update. The same group that has been ignoring the calls to upgrade to IE7 may ignore this request, too.