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Internet Explorer Nein!

I love Internet Explorer. I equally love sticking red-hot pokers in my eyes and sliding bamboo splinters underneath my finger nails.

Perhaps you missed the announcement about the IE9 ‘platform preview’, if that’s the case, then jump over to the IE Blog and have a read about what they’re doing to bring things up to where everyone else was three years ago.

All IE users are either not fans of the internet or work for some mindless corporation which insists on installing IE6 on their work machines because they have some antiquated internal application that requires IE6 to function. That is a very sweeping generalisation, and I don’t really care, I can say this because IE users won’t see this paragraph unless they actually highlight the text in their inferior browsers. I was going to hide this whole article, but that seemed like too much effort for a quick thrill. (spoiler alert: I’ve used rgba for the text colour.)

This is also my 500th post on this blog, so it’s only fitting that its a rant. Let’s go.

My eyes, it burns, it burns…

Acid will do that. But with a diluted 55/100 score thus far in the Acid3 test it is more likely to fizz and tingle than actually burn. Safari 4 gets perfect 100/100, and Firefox 3.6 94/100. Long way to go guys, maybe start boasting once you hits the 90’s… not the 50’s.

Today, Microsoft has submitted over 100 additional tests of HTML5, CSS3, DOM, and SVG to the W3C. You can try out some of the tests we’ve submitted to the W3C here.

So, in addition to the Acid3 test, Microsoft have devised 100 more tests which, *shockingly*, they pass completely and all other browsers don’t. I’m not saying there is anything wrong with the tests that Microsoft have come up with, there is some perfectly reasonable stuff in there, its just very convenient that they pass every single one of the tests they’ve outlined. Very convenient.

Warp speed capt’n

Not really, warp speed, but compared to previous versions the JavaScript performance figures for IE9 aren’t too bad, although still behind Safari and Chrome, they’re on-par with Firefox 3.7 Alpha2. Whether this performance increase remains once its wrapped up in the whole IE9 application as opposed to this ‘preview’ will be the real test.

Standards

Possibly the most abused word on the IE blog, perhaps on the internet in general. I have to quote this whole section from the IE Blog, because its hilarious to think that it’s actually written on the IE Blog in a post about IE.

The goal of standards and interoperability is that the same HTML, script, and formatting markup work the same across different browsers. Eliminating the need for different code paths for different browsers benefits everyone, and creates more opportunity for developers to innovate.

Many standards are still emerging. They are in committee in draft form, or partially implemented, often in different ways, across different browsers. Developers face a hard challenge here: they need to work harder than they should, to write more and different HTML, script, and markup, just to get similar but not always the same results across different browsers.

We want the same markup to just work across different browsers. In IE9, we’re doing for the rest of the platform what we did for CSS 2.1 in IE8. IE8 delivered a high-quality CSS 2.1 implementation, sticking to the standard, and looking to other implementations in places where the standard is ambiguous. Developers should expect more from across the industry on this front in order to make HTML5 applications easier for developers to write.

Simpleton translation. “We’ve been dicking you around with bad browsers, forcing you to use dodgy hacks to make things look presentable in our products even though those same thing have looked fine in other browsers for years”

HTML5 != CSS3

I’m not sure if everyone will agree with this, but as far as I’m concerned HTML5 has nothing to do with CSS3, they are two separate things, however Microsoft seem to be bundling them together as though they shared the womb for 9 months. Their IE9 ‘test drive’ page has three sections ‘Speed Demos’, ‘Graphics Demos’ and ‘HTML5 Demos’. But listed under ‘HTML5’ are Border Radius, CSS3 Selectors, DOM Events, DOM Style and ‘HTML5 T-Shirt Designer’ (which seems to be an XHTML document not HTML5…). This is the list of things they spout that the shirt designer uses, maybe someone whos read more of the HTML5 spec than I have can clarify how many of these actually fall under HTML5, because I was of the belief that (for starters) HTML5 != XHTML, just like HTML5 != CSS3

  • is served as XHTML (MIME type: application/xhtml+xml)
  • uses XHTML namespaces and styles them with CSS
  • uses DOM Style and the CSS3 border-radius and opacity properties to create the color-picking widget
  • uses DOM Events (e.g., addEventListener) to be notified of mouse events
  • uses these mouse events to enable drawing on an SVG surface

Lastly checking the source of the shirt designer provides a childish giggle in the comments:

The purpose of these demos is to convey a concept and not intended to be used as a best practice for web development. Enjoy!

Really? Why would anyone have been expecting Microsoft to start conveying best practice now?

Frequently asked questions…

These are relatively good for a laugh. I won’t comment on all their FAQs (I could, but I won’t), just the quality ones.

Q: Why doesn’t Platform Preview have a back button or address bar?
A: Our focus with Internet Explorer Platform Preview is to provide a vehicle with which Web developers can see our progress and start planning if and how they want to support new HTML5 capabilities in the future.

Web Developers already have platforms to use if they want to test HTML5 capabilities. They’re called Safari, Firefox, Chrome etc.

Q: How often will be you be updating this?
A: We hope to release a new version of Internet Explorer Platform Preview approximately every 8 weeks

What’s that saying? Release early, release occasionally. Nah, that doesn’t sound…

* switches tabs to download Webkit nightly build *

…sound quite right. The word I was looking for was ‘often’. As in I ‘often’ consider testing in IE.

Q: When will the first beta ship?
A: We will release beta of Internet Explorer 9 when feedback from the Platform Preview releases indicates we have a high-quality Web platform that can be used for everyday browsing of the Web.

So… never?

Q: You showed HTML5 <video> at MIX10 but it doesn’t work in the Platform Preview.
A: The demo of HTML5 <video> at MIX10 was a preview of a future release of the Platform Preview. Stay tuned for more!

That’s a piss-take right? You’ve got a more up-to-date version of the “platform preview”, but you’re not going to give it out yet. Do we want to take bets that this ‘future release’ that they’re referring to won’t be the one (if there is one) that’s released in 8 weeks time.

Semi-Serious stuff

If you take a look at the release notes for the ‘platform preview’, there are certainly some interesting things in there. And the IE devs are definitely trying their hardest to make IE9 ‘better’. But is it really, really worth all the effort? Really?

Apples and Lemons.

Despite it seeming like the best, most obvious, satisfactory, sensible way for Microsoft to ‘catch up’ in the browser wars, it still seems extremely unlikely that they’ll adopt the Webkit (or Gecko, I’m not too picky really) rendering engine anytime soon. Probably because of Apple’s involvement with Webkit and Microsoft being stubborn.

Even Google, who’s love/hate relationship with Apple seems to be growing, is using Webkit in Chrome and (partly) as a result seeing a reasonably sharp uptake on their Chrome browser. But no, clearly both Apple and Google are wrong, Webkit isn’t the way to go, the best option *clearly* is to infinitely patch an inferior product to bring it up to where the competitors were three years ago. Yay Microsoft.

The best thing about the internet? Opinions. That’s just mine.

Possibly related reading (from both sides of the fence)