Goodbye IE7, IE8 and Windows XP

Incase you didn't hear the news, Microsoft has abandoned support and updates for Windows XP today; including IE7 and IE8. Generally this should be treated as good news from a web development perspective. It's news that's long overdue. Both IE7 and IE8 have become very outdated, compared with many other web browsers available. There's numerous things IE7 and IE8 could not handle, plus a myriad of unfixed rendering bugs and critical security flaws.

Traditionally building websites that could support IE7 and IE8 has always been a difficult process. On average I've found it's added about 20% extra time and cost to a project, and I've nearly always had to pass that cost onto the client. Plus the difficulties of trying to run versions of IE on different operating systems (like Mac) via virtualisation software. Now that extra time can be avoided or budgeted towards other things in a project.

Of course usage of IE7 and IE8 is not going to dry-up overnight. Like with IE6, there's going to be a small minority of individuals and businesses (currently about 3%) that continue to peddle older versions of IE and will take longer to wean-off. Going forward, we will not really be able to help people who choose to use older versions of IE. If they choose to use broken and unsupported web browsers, then that's their choice we have to respect. They have to accept the consequences of that decision.

I've been asked by a couple of people about what this 'switch off' means for my area of work; in particular RapidWeaver addons (like themes and stacks) and various other projects I've completed in the past. The simple answer is that everything that was made to work in IE7 and IE8 is probably going to continue to do so for a while longer. I have no intentions to start purposefully ripping-out IE7 or IE8 specific code and disabling conditional comments (as much as I would enjoy the opportunity)! However future project work and testing is highly unlikely to include IE7 and IE8 support. The economics of supporting IE7 and IE8 just don't add up; and it just boils-down to common sense at the end of day. This will mean that future RapidWeaver themes will only be including jQuery 2. Many of my addons will move towards mobile-first rendering; while at the same time omitting conditional comments and 'hacks' for older browsers.

It's worth pointing out that several major websites have already ended IE7 and IE8 support. Google, Facebook and Twitter ditched IE7 a while back and I believe some services like Google App's no longer support IE8 either. So the tide is definitely turning. This notion of ending IE7 and IE8 support most definitely is not limited to just a couple of bitter and twisted web developers! It's a practice many are adopting in this industry, in attempt to promote healthy evolution of the internet.

If you want a subtle message to display on your website to warn users that they are browsing using an older web browser and should expect problems, then my free Conditionals stack is a good RapidWeaver addon to use, for composing a friendly and informative message. Or you can use the free Browser Reject stack by Joe Workman.

As always, if you have specific questions about browser compatibility relating to any of my RapidWeaver addons or custom work I've done for you, just drop me an email. It's a complicated topic, and I'm happy to discuss things in detail with you.
 
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Explore something new this Columbus Day with Packt’s biggest ever sale

Just had a quick email through this evening. Packt Publishing is giving everyone the chance to explore its full range of over 1600 DRM-free eBooks and video's this Columbus Day at a massive 50% off. The event runs for 4 days only. Of particular interest to RapidWeaver users, the offer also covers the RapidWeaver 5 Beginner's Guide by Joe Workman.

Simply visit the Packt website using this special link and use the code COL50 in your shopping cart, to apply the 50% discount. The discount code can be used as many times as you want. See the website for details, terms and conditions etc.

Packt claim that this is their biggest ever promotional event. Certainly it's an excellent deal to take advantage of if you've been hesitant about previously buying from the Packt website, or if you're seeking to build up your collection of learning resources ahead of starting some winter projects.
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New tabs theme by Henk Vrieselaar

TABS, is a new and responsive RapidWeaver theme by Henk Vrieselaar. Actually the new responsive TABS theme is a 'one-page website'. Your slide show isn't interrupted when you click on a menu-item. And loading is very fast. Design your own responsive menu with the supplied Tabs stack. Add a Title and/or a Font Awesome Icon to the Title. Or choose a minimal design with only a menu-button.

Download a free trial version of the theme.
Read the RapidWeaver Forums about this new theme.
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Discontinuation of Twit and TweetBar stacks

Just a friendly reminder that as of today (6th June 2013), Twit and TweetBar stacks are no longer available and may not continue to work in your RapidWeaver projects. I posted a clear warning message on the Stacks4Stacks website about 7 months ago, forewarning about this impeding change. Today is the day when those changes take effect. Twit and TweetBar stacks should be considered 'obsolete' and 'discontinued'. They will no longer be receiving updates or support. So don't bother asking me or anyone else for help! Download links and documentation for both have been removed. The Sparkle update channel has also been terminated. These stacks are no more.

The reason for this change is pretty easy to explain. Twitter wants to open its platform wider to advertisers; in turn generating more revenue. Twitter wants to get more people using its own official app's and get people using the Twitter.com website more. That way, more people can see and click advertising banners or promoted tweets. Twitter is now less keen on the idea of having lots of third-party apps available. It instead wants the ability to target users with advertising through its own channels and take more control over how people use its services.

Don't believe me? Read this blog article by Isaiah Carew in 2011, on the frustrations of developing app's for Twitter and the new limitations being imposed on developers:
http://yourhead.tumblr.com/post/5550105265/i-love-you-kiwi-i-know

To achieve this business model change, Twitter has been gradually killing-off and closing various free API's for many months, which has of course resulted in the noticeable loss of some excellent services and app's (like Kiwi). You may not have noticed, but I did spend time updating the Tweet and TweetBar stacks several times already this year, to prolong their availability and to keep them stable. The fact they remained available for as long as they did was somewhat of a miracle. However it has reached a point now whereby there are no more free or keyless API's left in the bag to use. It's simply not feasible to invest more time, money and other resources into developing Twitter stacks which are given away for free. Twitter has made it clear they plan to close more API's throughout this year and apply further restrictions on what developers can do. So other methods to embed Twitter feeds in websites are likely to be short-lived.

If you want to incorporate Twitter 'follow me' buttons or Twitter feeds into a webpage, the easiest and safest option is to use the widgets that Twitter already provides. These are not very attractive to look at and options for customisation are very limited. But these widgets are easy to setup from your profile page, and should work reliably. Long-term, you should probably reconsider your use of social media in websites and take a look at other platforms like Alpha.net, if you want to embed micro-blogs in a website.
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Short survey on a new iOS app

Sure, just about anyone can code a mobile app with the potential of selling it onto a multinational and the potential to make £18 million from it in the process. But if you instead want to help shape the development of a new iOS app capable of photographing multi-million pound yachts (instead of creating them), then here's your chance!

Indie developer Greg Barchard has created a very short survey on Google Docs, regarding an exciting new iOS app he is proposing. He's asked if I can retweet the link. So if you have 60 seconds spare, please complete the survey here and provide your honest feedback:

›› CLICK HERE TO COMPLETE THE SURVEY ‹‹

The survey will be live for the next couple of days. Please go ahead and fill in the form. It would be great to have your feedback, and your input will help contribute towards shaping this brand new app. Details are still very thin, hence the need to poll potential users and get feedback. But you can probably gauge from the questions, the general direction this app is going in. I'll also make sure any comments left below in the comment form get forwarded onto Greg.
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Steve Jobs, co-founder of Apple, passes away aged 56

Sad news this morning that Steve Jobs, who stepped down from position of CEO in August has died at the age of 56. Without question, Steve has inspired millions and had a significant influence on 21st century technology. Steve was always pushing the limits of design and technology. He set ambitious standards for the competition to equal and certainly a world without Apple would be a more subdued place. BBC News writeup: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-us-canada-15193922 Read More...
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