additions… #50

…web design…

what I really want to do about IE6…

Now, I guess you didn't see that one coming, did you?

Well, the chance is you have no idea what I'm on about here, so allow me to explain: After having commented on the ongoing campaign to rid the World Wide Web of IE6, the time has come for a demonstration of how to support that old bugger in the future. Works a treat!

If you're reading this article in IE6, and compare rendering of this page with that of other pages on this site in IE6, you might think I have completely lost my mind – hardly any styling left.

Ok, so maybe I am a bit heavy-handed with that old bugger, but the fact is that I'm not doing anything to shut IE6 out from the stylesheets – it's simply falling on its own bugs.

IE7 is almost as weak and buggy as its predecessor when it comes to CSS standards, and would normally end up with the same minimal styling. However, I have given IE7 a chance and opened a back door to more complete stylesheets for it.

IE8 comes with reasonably good CSS 2.1 support, so no problems there. Other browsers in regular use won't have problems either.


Yes, imagine there's no IE6. It isn't hard to do.

Imagine how much easier it will be to design web pages when we can forget all about those old and weak IE/win versions. Imagine all the money and time saved, that are better spent on improving everything, including content, on large and small web sites.

Not a single visitor will lose by this method, since a document like this one still can carry all its content and basic functionality through to them. One doesn't need much imagination to see that this is a perfect win-win solution.

I can imagine one day I'll introduce minimal styling for all browsers, but that's another subject entirely.


I'm using the @import hack described in prepared for IE7.

In order to give IE7 full support for a few more years, I apply a double­@import hack – another @import hack after the first one. Both these hacks are valid and supported by new browsers, but IE6 and older fail on both and end up using a “phony stylesheet” with minimal styles.

This method is failsafe and simply can't backfire – ever. It leaves older IE/win versions with a perfectly usable document, and doesn't in any way shut out users with obsolete browsers – they simply get a clean sheet.

double@import hack:
/* Front door for all but IE7 and older. */
@import url(stylesheet.css) all;

/* Back door for IE7. */
@import url(stylesheet.cs\s) ;

Yes, the same stylesheet is declared to be imported twice, but that doesn't cause any problems since stylesheets get cached and browsers won't waste time on downloading them twice. They'll just check.

When the time comes to end support for IE7 too, the second @import rule is simply removed and IE7 allowed to fall back to the same level of support as its predecessor.


In this case it is for demonstrational purposes only. That's why I've restricted disgraceful degradation to IE6 and older.

I know how much web designers and developers can get out of today's browsers if one isn't hampered by having to deal with old IE6, and this page showcases one way to deal with such an old and obsolete browser.

One can of course get a lot more out of the latest browsers if one reduces support for IE7 too, but for now I think it is enough to have a method in place for future disgraceful degradation in that bugger. Always good to be prepared…

sincerely  georg; sign

Hageland 23.feb.2009
last rev: 24.feb.2009



I don't need all that many reasons for using web standards to my advantage on my own web site.
— Georg

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