Thursday, March 20, 2008

Lots of talk about IE 8

Microsoft has decided that IE 8 will now "by default, interpret web content in the most standards compliant way it can." (source) They were going to have it default to the way IE 7 interpreted web pages but there was lots of discussion and outcry by the web community, so they actually listened. This is good news for web developers. We won't have to write special code for IE only.

Some notes about IE 8 (from a Sitepoint newsletter):

There are plenty of details available for interested developers. In CSS Improvements in Internet Explorer 8, Microsoft details the new style features in the browser:
  • support for data URIs, which let you embed small images directly within your style sheets for improved performance
  • much less buggy CSS floats, which has enabled Microsoft to abolish the hasLayout hack previously used to work around these bugs.
  • correct support for margin collapsing
  • support for generated content, including automatic counters, using :before and :after pseudo-elements.
  • support for the :focus pseudo-class
  • support for CSS outlines (borders that don't affect layout)
  • orphan, widow, and page break control in print output
  • support for CSS tables, enabling much easier and more powerful page layout with CSS
  • and many more smaller improvements!

And these CSS improvements are just the tip of the iceberg. Improvements for developers in IE8 beta 1 can be seen in almost every part of the browser:
  • The IE Developer Toolbar has been greatly enhanced. Its CSS debugging and live editing features are now just about on par with the much-loved Firebug extension for Firefox. And the toolbar is now built into the browser by default!
  • JavaScript has gotten a big speed boost, and Microsoft has fixed the notorious circular reference memory leak.
  • The Document Object Model (DOM), the primary API used by JavaScript developers, is now much more standards compliant, bringing it up to the same level found in the other major browsers.
  • IE8 supports the W3C's new Accessible Rich Internet Applications (ARIA) standard, enabling accessibility tools like screen readers to work with slick, JavaScript-powered user interface elements.

Read more about IE 8 on Microsoft's IE blog.

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