A few months ago I was asked if I wanted to join a new program that the Internet Explorer team was starting up called IE userAgents. No isn’t related to the the Internet Explorer userAgent string, or the fact that in the leaked IE11 builds it has had a makeover, instead it’s about evangelism of the web platform and shifting peoples perceptions of IE as a modern browser. It’s also worth noting that Internet Explorer isn’t the only browser that has a program like this, Mozilla does too and I’d expect the other browsers do to.
So what do we do? Well ultimately it doesn’t really change anything in my day-to-day live as a web developer, I use IE to varying degrees most days, and since getting a Surface Pro I pretty much exclusively use it. What we (we being the userAgents) tend to do is keep an eye on keywords across the various social media touch points like Twitter. If someone’s complaining about a site not working in IE then we will look to reach out to them and help them resolve their problem. A similar thing goes with StackOverflow, you’ll find a number of the userAgents hanging around on there answering the communities questions. More often than not the problems people have with Internet Explorer often come down to misconceptions about how to approach web development, things like using userAgent sniffing instead of feature detection or not realizing the browsers capabilities. These issues can present in all browsers, not just Internet Explorer, and educating people on developing for modern browsers (in particular avoiding userAgent sniffing) will ultimately benefit everyone.
There is another side though, and that’s addressing specific Internet Explorer problems. Fellow userAgent Johnathan Sampson has been documenting IE10 specific problems as well as work around for those with the aim to be able to produce a guide on things to watch out for and how best to work around them.
Over the coming months you’ll probably see us out and about in the community, helping to ensure that web developers are as well informed as they can be when producing applications for the modern web. If you want to get in touch with us you can:
- Find us on the twitter list
- Ping the @IEDevChat twitter account
- Use the #IEuserAgents hash tag
One final note, please stop sniffing userAgents, I promise that I had a shower this morning ;).