One Way to Solve IE’s ActiveX Woes

I know you’re expecting me to say switch to Firefox. Too late, I already did. No, this post is just an observation of PCWorld‘s method for solving the problem:

PCWorld solves IE activex problem

(highlighting mine)

I am actually a fan of this approach – it does two things nicely:

  1. Solves the problem without adding a lot of bulky and inevitably out-dated browser sniffing code and/or additional javascript dependence.
  2. Lets user’s know why they’re experiencing a problem.

Most developers I know are scrambling to make the new IE ActiveX restrictions invisible to users – they want their content to work as always. It’s understandable and possibly mandated by the upper echelons, however I think a more direct approach is worth considering. After all, the situation was created by fresh litigation and is likely to change with appeals and technology…soon…rendering your current workaround pointless. You’ll either have to do yet another workaround soon, or, if ActiveX controls are automatically re-enabled in the future, you’ll have all this extra muck in your code and will probably not go back and fix it (since it won’t technically be broken).

The second point is incredibly important, and in my experience, often overlooked. Many people with Windows Updates magically “maintaining” their computers behind the scenes have no idea why a lot of sites are suddenly behaving weird. They are wondering…they many assume many things but they’re sure to appreciate a clue – especially when it’s accompanied by a simple action that will forward their cause: “click here”.

The current browser climate reminds me of all the painful methods we used to use to handle IE 4 for Mac. In the end, for personal sites at least, I just stopped trying. It was such a bad browser that the collective time and energy of web developers everywhere were being, in my opinion, totally wasted to try to accommodate a sub par product. Why break your site to fix their browser when so many other better browsers are freely available? The less web developers bend to the restrictions forced on us by horrible browsing technology and noncompliance to web standards, the sooner average users will switch to something better. Then we can build and they can browse much more happily – everyone wins.

Related: Why Do I Have to Hit Enter to See Flash?