A few months ago, the Internet Explorer team did a Q&A about IE9 via Reddit. While there were a few interesting items discussed, I almost did a spit-take when I saw this one:
Why doesn’t IE have a built-in spellchecker?
Are you kidding me? IE9 is going to ship without spellcheck? Ludicrous!
I immediately thought of all the typing I do in my browser every day, and how awful it would be to do it all sans spellcheck. I write my blog posts in WordPress. I comment on blogs. I consider proper spelling a necessity in my writing, and I simply can’t achieve it without a little help from my browser.
And it’s not just me.
Regular users are writing important emails, posting thoughts on Facebook, filling in online forms… How can anyone survive without spellcheck? What was the Internet Explorer team thinking?
I was really disappointed. Then I read the reply from the IE team:
Like any software project, developing IE is a trade off between features, quality and schedule. A built-in spellchecker would be a great feature that simply didn’t make the cut this time in favor of other things like <CANVAS>, <SVG> and other platform features.
Suddenly, I’m conflicted.
The SVG support coming in IE9 is a truly cutting-edge feature that really pushes what we can do inside a modern browser. And Canvas is no small feat either; people like me have scolded the IE team left and right for over a decade for not supporting open standards. These new features really are important to me both as a web developer, and as a browser-technology enthusiast.
So which is more important?
On the one hand, I really don’t think I can use a browser day-to-day that doesn’t have built-in spellcheck. On the other, I’m ecstatic that the Internet Explorer team is finally choosing to innovate and support new standards. I’m really not sure which side to take on this debate.
What do you think? Is it more important to support old, tried and truly-important features, or is it better to spend that time pushing the envelope and coming up with something new?