Standards vs "But IE Does It"

There's a flame war going on in Bug 97284 - [RFE] allow page to make arbitrary elements user-editable in browser. Basically, the bug is about enabling easy in-place editing of any HTML by just setting an attribute or property. has even developed a an implementation of contenteditable for Mozilla

There's three camps when it comes to issues like this. The first camp wants full compliance with W3C standards and don't want items like contenteditable or marquee implemented because it's not in the standards.

The second camp wants to implement these items in order to win over IE users and developers. Regarding why contenteditable is an assigned bug, Tim Powell comments:

The plan is to implement the IE interface and for good reason: Microsoft IE 5-6 have more than 90% of the browser market (That's being generous to non-Microsoft browsers). Microsoft extensions such as contenteditable are de facto standards. This isn't the first time... and doubt it will be the last time that Mozilla implements a Microsoft extension. If Mozilla wants to even be a viable alternative, it needs to support a number of Microsoft features. Otherwise the switching cost is too great, both for web site developers to support Mozilla and for users to use Mozilla (or derivatives).

Then there's the third camp: we don't really care too much one way or the other. We just want to surf the web and check e-mail.

» posted by pinder on October 15, 2002 at 10:20 PM


I think the best would be to have a checkbox in the preferences:

[ ] Activate IE extensions


[ ] W3C standards-only mode

And everyone happy!! :)

# posted by charlie

Urm, and the following question might arise: what should be the default status of this preference?

# posted by RJ

It should be defaulted to W3C standards only mode. I guess that shows what side of the argument I am on. I believe totally in the setting of standards by the W3C and browser makers complying with said standards.

If I recall correctly, the whole thing with divs and layers back in the 4's was microsoft and netscape guessing which would be the W3C standard. It happened that Microsoft guessed right, but we were all stuck with netscape's layers.

I am a die hard mozilla fan, and am winning converts because of features in mozilla outside of the browser and the dom. Keep the W3C standards and we all win.

# posted by davidj

Im with charlie - let there be a choice so everyone is happy.

I would personally favor IE being the default, because the 'average internet surfer' will be used to IE, and if they come across a page which is built for IE, and does not view correctly - their kneejerk reaction will not be 'oh, let me turn Mozilla over to IE mode', it will be 'well this browser cant even load pages correctly - it must really suck - Im going back to IE'...

Now - those who advocate W3C will, as a rule, be completely knowledgable enough and will have few qualms with turning Moz over to W3C mode right after installing. And when I say 'few qualms', I refer to few qualms as compared to having the standards completely hurled out of the window in favor of a more IEish functionality.

# posted by john

I think you somewhat missed the intent of my comments. Here's a more in depth discussion of my thinking:

# posted by Tim Powell

There is also a fourth camp which I am in.... someone who wants editing functionailty, but with a better, more consistent implementation than using IE's contentEditable. IE's implementation has limitations and quirks, and copying their implementation is bound to lead to problems and incompatibilities. Instead, I believe that an implementation should be a more general API for manipulate content inside a document.

The problem with implementing IE's interface is that sometimes the W3C just includes de-facto standards (see the X11 color name mess in CSS3) that aren't very good but that are something used in all browsers. So if mozilla copies something that isn't very good, we may be stuck with it for a long time.

I didn't see the bug commentary as a flame war so much as a lot of people really caring about this functionality being added to mozilla.

# posted by Dylan Schiemann

Three modes?
[] IE extensions enabled
[] W3C strict adherence
[] Sensible

# posted by rj

I REALLY need contentEditable, my application development tool requires it, and contentEditable is the "very last" hurdle before I jump the Microsoft ship completely for Linux or Jaguar. Please, oh please, oh please!!! If I have to reload a hacked or crashed WinXP box again I'm gonna freak (even more...)

I spend more time updating, anti-spamming, anti-virusing, firewalling, and wrapping these machines in duct-tape than I do solving business problems... and I KNOW I'm not alone on this subject...

New Mozilla and Firebird are awesome otherwise, and I'd be able to convert all my clients (easily, and joyfully) off of WinBlowsXP. But contentEditable is the crux of my application development environment... (did I already say "Please"?)

c'mon mozilla gods... you can do it... (how about a beta version?)

# posted by John Kotch

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