· software-development feedback-loops

The Internet Explorer 6 dilemma

A couple of weeks ago Dermot and I showcased a piece of functionality that we’d been working on - notably hiding some options in a drop down list.

We showcased this piece of functionality to the rest of the team in Firefox and it all worked correctly.

Our business analyst, who was also acting as QA, then had a look at the story in Internet Explorer 6 and we promptly realised that the way we’d solved the problem didn’t actually work in IE6.

In retrospect we should have showcased the story in IE6 in order to shorten the feedback cycle but if we take that logic even further than it’s clear that we should be running our application in IE6 frequently as we’re developing functionality.

It’s a dilemma that we’ve faced on nearly every project I’ve worked on recently.

We know in the back of our minds that we need to make it work on Internet Explorer 6 but because of Firebug the speed of development is siginifcantly quicker if we use Firefox.

It’s almost as if we’re trading off the longer term safety we would have if we use IE6 all the time for the quick feedback cycles we get from the Firebug console/CSS editor when we’re fiddling around with Javascript and CSS.

The way that we’re working at the moment is to continue using Firefox for local development but trying to make sure that we test and showcase in IE6.

It’s not a foolproof approach, as can be seen by the example I gave at the beginning of this post, so I’d be interested if anyone has any clever ideas for dealing with the situation where we have a requirement to make our application IE6 compatible.

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