Browser bugs

I think this is hilarious: Mark Pilgrim in Should Safari be intentionally buggy? (emphasis mine):

[Safari developer] Dave Hyatt has suggested fixing these bugs [that are exploited to create style sheets that work in most popular browsers], so that Safari would not be susceptible to any known CSS hiding tricks. I pleaded with him not to do this, and told him the story of OmniWeb, which for years had horrendous CSS support but had no bugs that web designers could exploit to hide CSS from that browser. (The community has since found a way to hide CSS from OmniWeb.) Last I heard, Dave was still on the fence about this; he views them as bugs (which they are), and wants to fix them. The problem is that fixing them may do more harm than good in the long run, by reducing options for web designers and forcing us back to the days of maintaining multiple browser-specific stylesheets.

So, in other words, people have found bugs in the browsers, that they can use to write CSS intended for other browsers, rendered invisible for the browser in question, because of some bug. Normally, bugs are supposed to be fixed, but given the vast numbers of web pages that depend on these bugs, fixing them will break those web pages. Safari, as a new browser, and should (according to Mark Pilgrim and others) respect these bugs to render pages according to the intent of the web designers.

I’m not in a position to take stand in this debate, because I don’t know that much about this, but I am amused by the idea. Actually, this is related to a problem that often arises as a legacy software system is to be replaced with a new one. Often, the bugs and misfeatures in a system affects the organization using (and thus depending on) the system. The features of an organization that have emerged from software bugs can be subtle, so when the requirements are gathered for the new system, these things are often missed. The legacy system often is the most detailed description of the organization (however swinish the code).

Update: David Hyatt responds.

The above was posted to my personal weblog on January 10, 2003. My name is Peter Lindberg and I am a thirtysomething software developer and dad living in Stockholm, Sweden. Here, you’ll find posts in English and Swedish about whatever happens to interest me for the moment.

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