Web Devout tidings

Internet Explorer 7 HTML support information available

Following the announcement that the latest build of Internet Explorer 7 is layout complete, meaning no significant changes will be made to the webpage layout engine until the final release, I have begun testing Internet Explorer 7’s standards support. So far the HTML / XHTML support information is complete, and I will work on the CSS information next.

Here is what was changed in Internet Explorer 7 as far as HTML / XHTML support:

  • The abbr element is now supported.
  • There are some slight improvements to object support, including some form of fallback mechanism (see below).
  • The select, optgroup, and option elements have been improved.

Here are some things I was disappointed about:

  • The tabindex attribute still has worthless support
  • Important informational attributes like cite, datetime, and longdesc still have no interface for the user to access their values.
  • The button element still uses the element contents even if the value attribute is provided.
  • The implicit form for label elements still isn’t supported.
  • Alternate stylesheets still aren’t supported.
  • The object element is still practically unusable for simple things like images, the fallback mechanism doesn’t always seem to work, and sometimes the user is presented with strange messages in the object area instead of the fallback that should be provided in the event of a problem.
  • The q element still doesn’t show quotation marks, rendering the element nearly useless unless you’re willing to let user agents without CSS support see two pairs of quotation marks.
  • The title attribute is still supported incorrectly.
  • There wasn’t a single improvement to XHTML support (other than a change to the layout mode detection algorithm so that XML declarations don’t throw the browser into quirks mode).

All in all, it’s a disappointing outcome in this area. According to the Web Devout tables, overall HTML / XHTML support hasn’t risen by even one percentage point since Internet Explorer 6, and is still sitting at 80%.

The good news is that CSS was the primary focus of Internet Explorer 7 layout engine development (a decision I very much agree with), and I have seen noteable improvement there, particularly in regard to selectors. So far I have found one regression that prevents floats from being cleared under certain circumstances. More information will be available later.

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