The Death of a Hack

Album Cover: The Downward Spiral

"Everything's blue in this world...the deepest shade of mushroom blue."
NIN / The Downward Spiral

Posted on February 28, 2004 11:20 PM in Web Design
Warning: This blog entry was written two or more years ago. Therefore, it may contain broken links, out-dated or misleading content, or information that is just plain wrong. Please read on with caution.

It's kind of interesting to peruse some of the more design-centric blogs and websites out there like Mezzoblue, Jeffrey Zeldman's site, and Position is Everything, and read all kinds of discussions and tutorials on CSS hacks that help designers fool the more infamous UAs into rendering their designs correctly.

Having just recently read an an article on about the possible release of XP Reloaded, it's a bit interesting to consider all the CSS hacks that will die a quick death when IE 6 gets reloaded as well.

For instance, while reading about Piefecta over at Position is Everything tonight, I came across mention of a Holly hack, something I hadn't ever heard of and didn't really care to, either. It amazes me the amount of time and energy spent researching, testing, discussing and arguing about these hacks that someday (we hope, at least) will vanish into the ether, most likely to be forgotten forever.

To be perfectly blunt, I hardly ever use any type of hack in my CSS. I'd rather spend the time (as frustrating as it can be) making something work in both Internet Explorer and Firefox than reading about and learning new CSS hacks that allow me to fool IE 5 on the Mac, Netscape Navigator 4, or any other crappy browser. Call me insensitive, apathetic, ignorant, whatever you want, but there are ways to design well without resorting to flash-in-the-pan CSS hacks and trickery.


Unimportant on August 17, 2004 at 10:23 AM:

Ahh, but the ways that you claim permit you to design well without resorting to flash-in-the-pan methods won't work with advanced CSS layout/design. Try making a pixel-perfect replication of a relatively positioned site without using a hack. No? These hacks allow those who so decide to make our designs look consistent across browsers and platforms without resorting to a "your webpage will be only this wide to ride".

These hacks have actually been around for a long time. Your ignorance of them does little to remove their importance to web design in general, nor their importance to you as a web developer.

I'm currently revamping a fortune-500 company's website into some semblance of HTML-compliance. I'm using these hacks (tan, holly, et al) to ensure that all users will share the exact same experience. This company is requiring that 4.x browsers be supported even if things aren't "nearly as pretty" on them. These hacks are the life-blood of cross-platform/browser design and if you're not using them, you're forcing yourself to work in an absolutely-positioned world and limiting yourself from a design standpoint.

Fortunately for me, we're looking at a full redesign in the next fiscal year, so I'll be able to craft a fully-accessible, cross-platform, standards-compliant site from the ground up.


Bernie Zimmermann on October 28, 2004 at 10:25 PM:

Well, I did say "call me ignorant," so I guess I had it coming ;)


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