Archive: November 13th, 2003

Doing the right Flash thing

Joe Gillespie has been handing out the same advice I gave about updating Flash sites to work in the soon-to-be-crippled Internet Explorer (although he neglects the vital <noscript> when describing the JavaScript fix).

I was very pleased with my JavaScript/<noscript> solution. Then I got an email from someone who had downloaded a beta of the new Internet Explorer for Windows. It turns out that neither my solution nor any of the other JavaScript solutions mentioned on other sites work in the new browser.

So, what to do next? Should I start tearing my hair out trying to figure out some new clever way of tricking Internet Explorer?

After some deliberation, I’ve decided that the answer is a resounding "no".

The Eolas patent that sparked the browser revision is completely without merit. Why should I have to change my perfectly valid XHTML documents just because the US Patent Office is too idiotic to recognise prior art?

No, I’m switching the Salter Cane website back to its old non-JavaScript <embed> tags. If anyone visiting the site with a crippled version of Internet Explorer gets annoyed, I’ll direct them to take it up with Mike Doyle. I’ll update my mark-up only in the event of the W3C updating the XHTML spec.

It might not come to that, though. Tim Berners-Lee has jumped into the fray with an impassioned plea for sanity as well as putting forward to the indisputable case for the existence of prior art. The US Patent Office are actually responding so there may well be a happy ending to all this.

One positive thing has come out of this debacle already. The beta release of the crippled Internet Explorer led an enterprising web developer into figuring out how to install multiple versions of IE on Windows, something previously thought to be impossible.

This doesn’t affect me directly as I use Virtual PC on the Mac to achieve the same result but it’s certainly great, great news for Windows-based web developers. They can now check their designs across a wide range of browsers without resorting to a separate partition, or even a separate computer, for each version of IE.