A questionable choice?

Final version of jQuery with IE 6, 7 and 8 support released

Elliot Bentley

Support for old versions of Internet Explorer to be dropped as version 2.0 moves towards slimmer codebase.

The final version of jQuery with support for Internet Explorer 6, 7 and 8 has been released as the development team move towards a smaller codebase for version 2.0.

jQuery 1.9 will be the last version of the popular JavaScript framework to support these browsers, referred to collectively in jQuery blog posts as ‘oldIE’.

The change was announced in June in an attempt to reduce the size of jQuery’s codebase, which has gradually increased in size over time and is now considered by some to be too large.

Removing oldIE support in the first beta of jQuery 2.0 has seen a 10% reduction in the size of its footprint, and Dave Methvin, president of the jQuery foundation, claimed that the work was “nowhere near done” in a blog post. Strangely, neither this release nor a blog post entitled “The State of jQuery 2013” make any reference to modularisation introduced in jQuery 1.8.

jQuery has long been praised for its support for older (and current) browsers with patchy implementation of vanilla JavaScript. However, this has become increasingly unimportant as oldIE’s market share continues to dwindle.

Though their numbers are undoubtedly falling, it’s difficult to say how much of the market will now be left unsupported by jQuery 2.0. NetMarketShare estimates that IE6,7 and 8 together retain a 32.88% market share, while StatCounter reports a meagre 12.29% share.

It’s far from a sudden transition, however: jQuery’s developers have pledged to support version 1.9 “as long as oldIE is a significant factor on the web”. In addition, jQuery 1.9 and 2.0 utilise an identical API, so the latter can be exchanged for the former on oldIE using conditional comments.

Though jQuery 2.1 may introduce new features incompatible with 1.9, it’s unlikely to come out before 2014 – by which point oldIE will have (hopefully) disappeared from the market. Before then, the official jQuery migrate plugin can be used to detect deprecated APIs, features or functionality still referenced within your code.

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