Web Devout tidings

Archive for the 'Browser releases' Category

Internet Explorer 7 CSS support information available

Thursday, March 30th, 2006

I have now finished testing the CSS 2.1 and CSS 3 support in Internet Explorer 7. The results are more significant than the previously reported HTML support improvements. CSS was the primary area of layout engine development in Internet Explorer 7, so this is where most of the layout engine changes reside.

Here are the major changes in Internet Explorer 7 as far as CSS 2.1 and CSS 3 support:

  • !important is now properly supported.
  • Much better support for selectors, including universal selectors, child selectors, adjacent sibling selectors, CSS 3 indirect adjacent sibling selectors, and all attribute selectors in CSS 2.1 and CSS 3. This is better support than Opera 8.5, although still behind Firefox 1.5 in some areas.
  • More correct pseudo-class and pseudo-element grammar implementation.
  • :first-child is now supported.
  • :hover is now supported for all elements, although not perfectly.
  • Backgrounds now correctly include border region.
  • dotted border style is now properly supported for one-pixel-wide borders.
  • bottom and right can now be used to stretch the box’s dimensions.
  • Some float bugs were fixed.
  • Box sizes are now properly constrained by the height and width properties.
  • Several margin bugs have been fixed.
  • max-height, max-width, min-height, and min-width are now mostly supported.
  • overflow is now correctly supported.
  • position:fixed is now supported.
  • z-index property now behaves correctly with select elements.

Here are some things I was disappointed about:

  • It still doesn’t support combined class selectors like p.foo.bar{} and still has other bugs with class and ID selectors.
  • :hover has some bugs that cause the hover state to sometimes remain even after the mouse has moved away.
  • :before and :after still aren’t supported, meaning counters, content, and quotes also aren’t supported.
  • inherit (one of the fundamental features of CSS) still isn’t supported.
  • Borders still aren’t supported for table row groups.
  • border-spacing, caption-side, and empty-cells still aren’t supported.
  • There was a nasty regression regarding the clear property that prevents elements from clearing floats under certain conditions.
  • clip still isn’t supported.
  • There were no improvements to the display property, meaning CSS table displays still aren’t supported.
  • Some margin bugs remain.
  • outline still isn’t supported.
  • There are still a lot of problems with the vertical-align property.
  • There were no improvements to the print properties.
  • Alternate stylesheets still aren’t supported (a requirement for CSS conformance).
  • There is still no option to disable author stylesheets (another requirement for CSS conformance).
  • Other than basic selectors, there were no improvements to CSS 3 support. There is still no support for any CSS 3 pseudo-classes or pseudo-elements.

A lot of painful problems were fixed, but Internet Explorer is still miles behind the competition in CSS support. According to the Web Devout tables, Internet Explorer 7’s CSS 2.1 support has risen from 54% to 65%, compared to Firefox 1.5’s 93% and Opera 8.5’s 94%. Due to the added CSS 3 selector support, overall support for CSS 3 changes has risen from 7% to 13%, compared to Firefox 1.5’s 28% and Opera 8.5’s 8%.

The lack of support for inherit, :before and :after pseudo-elements, and table display values will continue to be thorns in the sides of web developers. Hopefully these problems will be fixed in Internet Explorer 8, which is planned for release within one year of the Internet Explorer 7 release.

I will test DOM support improvements next, although I haven’t heard of any changes in that area.

Edit: As a reminder, Microsoft has previously announced 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.

Internet Explorer 7 HTML support information available

Sunday, March 26th, 2006

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.

Bill Gates promises new IE versions every year

Tuesday, March 21st, 2006

Microsoft chairman Bill Gates, at the MIX06 conference, announced that the company plans to release a new version of Internet Explorer every 9 to 12 months. Microsoft has repeatedly been criticized for halting development of their web browser after it attained an effective monopoly several years back, thus dramatically slowing the growth of web technology and resulting in much higher costs for web development than would otherwise be required. Due to the growing popularity of alternative web browsers, most notably Mozilla Firefox, followed by Opera and Safari, Microsoft has recently taken a defensive stand and resumed work on their browser. The Internet Explorer development team has claimed a commitment to web standards in upcoming versions, and has already made significant progress fixing some of the most costly bugs for the Internet Explorer 7 release. Most of the new webpage features currently being added are already supported by most alternative browsers, and the upcoming Firefox 2.0 and Opera 9 are expected for release before Internet Explorer 7.

If Microsoft delivers on their promise, we may see the situation for web developers improving significantly in the next few years.

Firefox 2.0 alpha has not been released yet

Monday, March 20th, 2006

Many recent news articles claim that a Mozilla Firefox 2.0 alpha version (the development stage before beta) has been released. This is not the case. The confusion is derived from a recent version number change in the nightly development builds, which are publicly available but are only intended to be used by developers and pre-beta testers. The nightly build version numbers have changed in preparation for an upcoming alpha release, but Mozilla has not yet officially released it and there are still additional changes that are expected to be made beforehand.

Asa Dotzler, the leader of Mozilla’s Quality Assurance program, has responded to these false reports.

Update: It appears that the alpha development is currently frozen, meaning it will not receive any more changes until the official alpha release unless the quality assurance group deems it necessary. The alpha release will be called “Bon Echo” (previously planned as “Bon Ocho”) rather than “Firefox” in order to discourage the general public from using it. Bon Echo, like other Firefox developer releases, is named after a landmark, specifically Bon Echo Provincial Park in Ontario, Canada.

Update: Bon Echo alpha 1 has now been officially released. Again, this should only be of interest to Firefox developers and people who wish to actively take part in the beta testing and bug report process. This version should not be used for general web browsing, as there may be serious bugs that result in loss of data or crashes.

Camino 1.0 is released

Wednesday, February 15th, 2006

The Mozilla group has released Camino 1.0, a web browser for Mac OS X based on the Gecko rendering engine which also powers Firefox, SeaMonkey, and other browsers. Although several Gecko-based web browsers are available for Mac OS X, Camino has been specifically optimized for the Macintosh.

Following Microsoft’s recent decision to discontinue support for the Macintosh version of Internet Explorer, Camino joins Safari, iCab, Opera, and Firefox as a viable and more modern alternative.

Edit: Added iCab to list of modern Mac OS X browsers.