So the dev team behind IE8 talked to the Web Standards Project about ‘standards’ vs. ‘quirks’ (aka a non-standard IE implementation) mode, how DOCTYPE is currently overclocked as the switch between the two, and how this switch is increasingly inaccurate. After some discussion, a proposal emerged – web pages should use a special tag to target the browser versions they were prepared for, and browsers of the future should render pages with that tag accordingly. If a page is tagged ‘IE8′, then a later browser version should render the page using IE8′s rendering engine. Here’s the proposal, as well as an opinion piece in favor of it.
Over at the Web Standards Project, they make it clear that this is by no means a universal opinion. And I can see why. If this tag became standard, browsers would have to support every other browser’s rendering engine bugs indefinitely – a pretty prohibitive barrier to entry. Instead of setting up a mechanism to support an infinite number of quirks modes, the IE team should just get their browser to render to standards and fix the layout bugs that do arise promptly, so we can get rid of ‘quirks’ mode altogether.
UPDATE: Matt has a much better post on this.