IE 8 final and compatibility view switch mode: some Chris Wilson answers

Here is a slightly arranged text representing 5 email exchanges I had with Chris Wilson between september 11th 2008 and october 11th 2008. The text and replies are arranged in a way to make it understandable for anyone. I removed top-posting and interleaved replies.

Italicized text is from me, Gérard Talbot

Non-italicized text with a left margin is from Chris Wilson, Platform Architect of the Internet Explorer Platform team at Microsoft

Embolded text is from me to emphasize what I think is utmost important.

GT: Mr Wilson,

The blog on Introducing Compatibility View is now disabled. So I'm posting you 2 questions.

I want to know
1) if this "broken-page-switch-to-compatibility-mode" button is going to stay
a) in the basic UI of IE 8 final release and

CW: Yes

GT: b) located as it is right now between the Address bar and Refresh button.

CW: Yes, most likely. It's possible we might change it based on user feedback, but the user feedback on this feature and its UI has been tremendously positive.

GT: 2) What I would like to know is given the high visibility/reachability and accessibility of such "broken-page-switch-to-compatibility-mode" button, where is the incentive, where would be the motivation for web authors into upgrading their past or current HTML documents. With such mode switch button, how would their motivations (or skills or web authoring knowledge or etc) be elevated into complying with W3C web standards? In what way or manner or shape is such "broken-page-switch-to-compatibility-mode" helping (motivation, more knowledge, more skills, more resources, better authoring software usage/availability/development,... whatever) the web authors in their future webpage authoring?

CW: I think you're overplaying how many people will push that button.

GT: The question of how is this "broken-page-switch-to-compatibility-mode" button going to motivate or incite web authors to upgrade their markup code and CSS code according to specifications and web standards is a very important question. We know that the "broken-page-switch-to-compatibility-mode" is mostly there for the users, the visitors... but it can become part of a web authoring "strategy" from web authors. I don't think this is far fetched.

CW: In general, I still think this is a strong push for web developers to move toward standards; and we-the-IE-product really can't force web developers into that by punishing our users, or we will quickly have few users (which some people might be happy with, but certainly we're not. :) )

The motivation for web authors to use standards in their page design is clear; it's cheaper and easier to build pages that work across the variety of browsers they need to support, and it's more predictable (since there is a specification to follow).

GT: We all know that but your IE team or IE blog colleagues rarely mention this. "Firefox", "Opera", "Safari for Windows", etc. are taboos, censored words in IE blog.

CW: In addition, even in IE8 with its compatibility mode button, if you write a page expecting IE6/7 behavior (i.e. not expecting standards compliance), it may be look broken in IE8 until a user finds that button. That's not a good experience, and I think it will push web devs toward standards.

Does that make sense?

GT: Internal coherence of arguments is one thing; prediction of reality is another. So, yes it makes sense.

Without proper documentation elevating the knowledge of web authors into upgrading their webpages to write valid markup code, valid CSS code to fix their errors, I don't see how things are going to change. A lot of people will "wait and see" and then copy chunks of code here and there so that their webpage can be rendered as "expected" in IE 7 and IE 8.

Overall, I think the MSDN documentation and MSDN tools to upgrade webpages for IE 8 are weak, poor, inadequate, in some cases clearly wrong. My opinion here.

Everyone at IE team should know and should be saying that it is useless to try to fix a webpage [with a] layout problem without first making sure the markup code is perfectly valid and then second making sure the CSS code is perfectly valid.

Also, when people will do Tools/Developer Tools (F12) and then see Browser Mode (3 choices) and Document Mode (3 choices), they will get confused.

CW: Our documentation is, like the product, still under development.

Valid HTML 4.01 strict! CSS compliant Web standards project HTML Tidy