I know I’m the last and probably least significant person to weigh in on this, but this “Safari is the New IE” article that I didn’t read when it came out three months ago has been tucked away in the back of my mind since then, and I’ve finally put my finger on the simple reason it bothers me.
[M]y point was to compare Safari to IE in terms of 1) not keeping up with new standards, 2) maintaining a culture of relative secrecy, and 3) playing a monopolistic role, by not allowing other rendering engines on iOS. Those accusations are pretty undeniable.
Personally what I want out of this whole debate is for Apple to realize that the web is starting to move on without them, and that their weird isolationism and glacial release cycle are not going to win them any favors in this new, dynamic web community.
First of all, what does it mean to “be an Internet Explorer”? What did Internet Explorer represent? A monopoly, sure, to consumers and corporate attorneys from the 1990s. “A culture of relative secrecy”? Maybe, though that’s not what comes to my mind. It also had a blue icon and a six-syllable name, but these are accidents — they’re not what Internet Explorer was.
What Internet Explorer represented to web developers, the bulk of that article’s audience, is not a popular browser lagging behind modern standards, but a popular browser egregiously disobeying established standards. There is no Safari equivalent (that I know of, and almost certainly not as significant) as, say, IE’s double-margin bug. Every web developer who’s wrestled with IE has tearfully referenced Explorer Exposed! and QuirksMode for the sixth time in a week, their links in Google’s results seeming an even deeper purple than others. Every web developer has harbored a sense of looming dread as they gleefully develop in Chrome and Firefox, knowing that there will soon be the reckoning of having to fix whatever IE bugs they’re willfully ignoring, but for right now it feels so good not to have to write terrible, hacky code to support a ten-year-old browser, and maybe my boss will announce tomorrow that we officially don’t support IE 6 anymore?
This, I think, is where the backlash comes from. “Developing for Safari” is barely a thing. “Developing for IE” was hell. To see the two compared in — yes — a clickbaity way is maddening.