View Full Version : Mac IE: should I even bother?

06-02-2006, 01:02 AM
Should I even bother to test JavaScript on Mac Internet Explorer? On the one hand, it's a HUGE pain and Microsoft can't even be bothered with Mac IE anymore. However, I keep running across Mac users (some of them clients) who have IE on their fairly new machines. It's also been my experience that non-savvy users tend to have browsers 1-2 years out of date. I also have this theory that scripts should be tested on the crappiest browser, and Mac IE qualifies.

What say you?

For the record, I would like nothing better than to forget about Mac IE in the same way left behind 640x480 screens; I just don't know if it's really the right decision.

06-02-2006, 02:06 AM
Each developer must decide that for his/herself.

I still test in IE5/Mac occasionally. I recommend that anyone using MacOS X 10.2+ to switch to a newer browser immediately. Safari 2+, Firefox, and Opera are good choices.

Bill Posters
06-02-2006, 09:39 AM
I recommend that anyone using MacOS X 10.2+ to switch to a newer browser immediately. Safari 2+, Firefox, and Opera are good choices.

I test in IE5/Mac as a matter of course and try to support it if it only means a few tweaks here and there in an IE5/Mac-specific stylesheet.
I certainly try to ensure that the page is not badly messed up in that browser before going live with a site.
That said, I'm not sure how considerate I'd be to its users if I was Windows based and didn't have such easy access to that browser for testing.

In many cases, it takes much less work work than some might expect to bring IE5/Mac into line - a task made that much easier through the use of a band pass filtered IE5/Mac stylesheet or rules.

It often seems to me that those who belly-ache about IE5/Mac, going on about how 'dead' it is, etc…, whilst extolling the obvious virtues of browsers such as Safari and FF are almost always preaching to the choir (i.e. members of web des/dev forums).
The fact that MS have officially taken it off the shelves actually changes very little in terms of whether or not site authors should support it. IE5/Mac users won't be checking the MS site for latest updates to IE5/Mac and will continue to use it in blissful ignorance.

For better or worse, there are still sizeable chunks of IE5/Mac users in certain target audiences. For example, I did the front-end on a recruitment site aimed broadly at the design community a while back. Now, whilst we often think that 'designers ought to know better', a significant number, particularly those in the print/repro sector, are still tied to legacy versions of Mac OS, for which IE5/Mac is still the only realistic option in terms of user awareness.
Had I not supported IE5/Mac in that project, the site could be kissing goodbye to a percentage of its users which stretched to double figures.

I'm generally happy to try to bring IE5/Mac into line, even if the support matrix doesn't explicitly cover it, because more often than not, doing so takes no more than a few extra minutes knocking up some additional CSS rules. In some cases, depending on how you've built the site, IE5/Mac won't need any additional tweaks.

Bottom line: If the actual or projected stats put IE5/Mac below the support threshold, don't bother trying to get it looking entirely correct in that browser. Still, I'd consider it good practice to ensure that you're not consigning those users to a broken and unusable site.
If a layout really is broken beyond repair in IE5/Mac, then you'd be giving those users a better service by giving them a CSS-less version of the site.
(This can be achieved by using the @import url approach and placing the actual url between single quotes. This has the effect of filtering (http://centricle.com/ref/css/filters/) out IE5/Mac, as well as a few other browsers* which you probably wouldn't care to offer layout support to either.)
* The list is NN4/Mac+Win, IE4/Mac+Win, IE5/MacOS9+MacOSX.

In terms of javascript support, it's best practice to ensure that a site works even in the absence of js. You certainly shouldn't be using it for anything critical.
Do the job well, throw some object detection into your scripts and sit comfortably knowing that even those without js support or (sufficient js support) can still use the site and access its content.

Fwiw, IE5/Mac CSS and js support is better than its age might suggest.
(It's quite common that both Mac and Windows authors, but particularly Windows-based authors, write off IE5/Mac without even having checked to see how well IE5/Mac is handling their layouts and scripts. That, to me, just smacks of sheer laziness and willful ignorance.)


I often toy with the idea of using throwing in some kind of sniff or CSS filter to display a notice at the very top of a page which only IE5/Mac users get to see. If I'm intent on encouraging IE5/Mac users to consider better options, then it's a more constructive approach to tell it to users, rather than developers.

06-02-2006, 10:13 AM
Well said. :)

Yes, I know some people still use MacOS 8/9, hence why I said MacOS X 10.2+. IE5/Mac's support for CSS is about as good as IE6's, though most of its bugs are different. IE5/Mac's support for JavaScript... well for one thing it does support DOM1 things like IE5.x/Win, but it doesn't support several of the proprietary things in IE/Win. It had potential. Unfortunately Microsoft stopped its development.

It has issues with Suckerfish Menus. One interesting thing is that it supports display:inline-block fairly well, something Mozilla still doesn't support.

I hadn't realized (or had forgotten) that IE5/Mac ignored @import 'URL';. However, I am well aware of other techniques for giving it special CSS rules.

I definitely agree with you about the graceful degradation (http://weblog.burningbird.net/archives/2005/03/25/the-importance-of-degrading-gracefully/).

As to your last paragraph, I've thought about doing that too, but that's a whole other discussion.

06-02-2006, 11:33 PM
Microsoft abandoned IE for the Mac many years ago and announced its death in 2003 so you know that it is never going to support 21st century web pages. Anyone using OSX has access to use a real web browser and there are still several older browsers such as Opera 6 which are supported for older Mac operating systems. Anyone still using IE on a Mac should expect a lot of web pages to not work by now.

Still its better to get your pages to work there as well provided that it doesn't involve too much extra work.

06-02-2006, 11:42 PM
I personally have long since let IE/Mac die. Seeming it isn't included with OS 10.4 (and therefore with any computer bought since 29th April 2005), and is no longer available to download (since 31st January 2006). Although it's support for CSS is actually better than IE/Win, it's rendering engine (Tasman) has actually been developed beyond IE/Mac, and has in some preview products, which have never got to market, has reached version 1.0, which includes things that IE7/Win won't have, like support for application/xhtml+xml.

I personally recommend iCab for anyone on System 7.0.1 to 10.2.8, and Safari for 10.3 and above.

06-03-2006, 05:56 AM
felgall, have you tried using Opera 6 recently? It doesn't support DOM1 and it has a lot of CSS bugs.
Mozilla 1.2 (http://community.wvu.edu/~ast002/mozilla/mozilla_archive.html) is a better alternative.

Bill Posters
06-03-2006, 08:11 AM
felgall, have you tried using Opera 6 recently? It doesn't support DOM1 and it has a lot of CSS bugs.
Mozilla 1.2 (http://community.wvu.edu/~ast002/mozilla/mozilla_archive.html) is a better alternative.

Iirc, on the issue of OS 9, Mozilla themselves recommend against using Moz 1.2 on account of its unresolved security issues. Mozilla recommends iCab.


Looking for software for Mac OS 9?

Due to the lack of developer interest, build machines, compilers and testing resources, the last mozilla.org software built for Mac OS 9 was Mozilla 1.2.1, released in December 2002. However, versions of our software that old are not recommended for security reasons. Therefore, for Mac OS 9 users, mozilla.org recommends iCab - which is, as far as we know, the only graphical browser currently maintained for Mac OS 9.

However, like I say, the issue isn't necessarily that better browsers don't exist, it's that those still using IE5/Mac don't know about them - and are unlikely ever to hear about them because they they don't tend to spend time on sites where such things are discussed.

06-03-2006, 12:37 PM
there was a link posted for a site for others to try you code and post back results, did not take a note but sounds useful(if anyone takes a note)

Bill Posters
06-03-2006, 01:20 PM

I have an account there and can vouch that it's extremely useful.

06-04-2006, 01:23 AM
felgall, have you tried using Opera 6 recently? It doesn't support DOM1 and it has a lot of CSS bugs.
Mozilla 1.2 (http://community.wvu.edu/~ast002/mozilla/mozilla_archive.html) is a better alternative.

I only mentioned Opera 6 because that is the latest Opera version that older macs can run. Of course iCab is their best solution but Opera 6 is still hundreds of times better than IE on old Macs.

Unfortunately people using old Macs will probably continue to use the long dead IE browser until such time as they find they can't view web pages at all. Perhaps we should make sure that our web pages DON'T work in that browser so as to encourage them to abandon it.;)