Nathan Hoad

Chrome: The IE6 of The Future

November 17, 2012

I keep seeing so many articles, demos and proof-of-concepts appearing in my Twitter feed, inbox, and where ever, about all the new HTML5, WebGL and NaCL stuff. A lot of them are broken for me, though, because they target the “one true browser”, Chrome, which I don’t use. It’s seriously annoying to see some 320x240 screenshot as a preview to something, think “hey that looks cool” and open it up to a bunch of fucked up looking polygons.

People complained for years and years that IE6 was the spawn of Satan and that ActiveX ruined everybody’s good time, but that’s what browser vendors are doing right now with all the shiny new stuff; creating the fragmentation and forwards incompatibilities of tomorrow. I’d say we’re pioneers, taking web browsers to bold new places, but we’re not, we’re jamming them in the same pipe they’ve always been in.

This ragefest was sparked by a link that appeared on the front page of Hacker News today:

It’s a link to a JSFiddle. For fucks sakes, I can’t see anything meaningful in Firefox. Or Internet Explorer, Opera, or anything, except Chrome. It honestly seems that this problem is mostly tied to the folks targetting Chrome. I sound insulting, but that’s where I see the most trouble coming from. They basically ignore the idea of other browsers, and assume that what they’re using is what everyone is using. You know, kind of like… “you must use Internet Explorer 6 to view our website”, or “this website was designed with Internet Explorer 6”. Except they don’t even say that - they just display a broken user experience.

I’d feel a lot better about it if they at least acknowledged that various things are broken in every other browser, displaying some text saying “sorry, it doesn’t work in your browser” rather than displaying a balled up piece of garbage on the screen.

Don’t get me wrong; I really think HTML5 and WebGL have bright futures, if done right. But the fragmentation present in all the community driven browsers is just getting worse and worse, and it needs to be fixed. But I think that Native Client is the Flash of tomorrow.

And that’s what really grinds my gears.

Update: Microsoft agree with me! Microsoft begs Web devs not to make WebKit the new IE6 so there.