IE 7 beta 1 – a first glance

Oi, web developers, listen up! Microsoft has now released beta 1 of IE 7! Unfortunately, though, it’s only available for MSDN subscribers (however, it seems to be available from a number of BitTorrent web sites as well). I’ve only had a couple of hours to test it, but here’s the first impression.

 

The good

It’s got tabs
About time, to say the least. Open a new tab with Ctrl + T and close it with Ctrl + W. Works like it should.
RSS support
Finds RSS feeds for the current web page you’ve navigated to, and offers a view of the feed.
A search field adjacent to the address field
A small search field is placed just next to the address bar, for easy searching. However, I haven’t found out a way to open up the search results in a new tab, nor any keyboard shortcut for setting focus to search field.

The bad

No additional CSS 2 support
Yes, you read that correctly. Still no support for Child selectors, Universal selectors, Adjacent sibling selectors, Attribute selectors, Pseudo-classes (except :hover on a tags, but has been there since version 4) or Pseudo-elements. Why, oh my God, why? You tell me.
Only two CSS bugs fixed
The Peekaboo Bug and the Guillotine Bug, but to me it seems that the fix for the latter one isn’t a 100% stable, if you look at the tests in the test page. And they still haven’t fixed the doubled margin bug for floated elements. Sigh.
Correct event handling
Nope. Only the same ol’ non-standard event handling as before.
No support for the application/xhtml+xml MIME type
No support, and no validation of XHTML as XML.

Yes, I know, this is only the first beta, and a lot of things can happen before the release. But it certainly doesn’t look promising, to me it seems the focus has only been on the end-user and not for web developers at all.

Another thing that bothers me is that the beta isn’t publicly available (at lest not yet). I can understand the reason for only releasing certain products that will eventually cost money to MSDN subscribers, but IE 7 will not cost money, and they definitely need a lot of web developers to test it, to get the feedback necessary to avoid a scenario with a release that has to be patched soon after its release date.

 

Important update!

Chris Wilson just posted the extremely interesting post Standards and CSS in IE. In it, he addresses what will come in beta 2, where he outs this dream list:

 
Bug fixes
  • Peekaboo bug
  • Guillotine bug
  • Duplicate Character bug
  • Border Chaos
  • No Scroll bug
  • 3 Pixel Text Jog
  • Magic Creeping Text bug
  • Bottom Margin bug on Hover
  • Losing the ability to highlight text under the top border
  • IE/Win Line-height bug
  • Double Float Margin Bug
  • Quirky Percentages in IE
  • Duplicate indent
  • Moving viewport scrollbar outside HTML borders
  • 1 px border style
  • Disappearing List-background
  • Fix width:auto
 
Feature list
  • HTML 4.01 ABBR tag
  • Improved (though not yet perfect) <object> fallback
  • CSS 2.1 Selector support (child, adjacent, attribute, first-child etc.)
  • CSS 2.1 Fixed positioning
  • Alpha channel in PNG images
  • Fix :hover on all elements
  • Background-attachment: fixed on all elements not just body
 

If this happens, it really is amazing! I’m sorry for my doubts.
The one and only essential thing I can think of is missing from that list is correct DOM event handling. Support for the application/xhtml+xml MIME type would be nice, but as Jim states in his comment at the IE blog:

Anne van Kesteren’s suggestion for an Internet Explorer that can follow the specs 100% and still render old websites with quirks is a great idea, and I hope you guys will consider it for Internet Explorer 8 – implementing a buggy application/xhtml+xml will ruin any chance of it working though

The only thing I’m wondering about is why they didn’t let us know this till know. Weren’t they allowed to, or are they simple masochistic and longed for a real backlash like they got? πŸ™‚

Anyway, I can’t wait to get my hands on beta 2!!!

 

Links

28 Comments

  • How disappointing. But it does confirm my suspicions that Microsoft has been talking about "wanting to listen" etc. etc. only for the sake of reputation and added publicity.

    What matters to developers is only the end-result, though, but sadly developers are not people that MS truly cares about, only on the front.

    (or so it seems anyway)

  • Robert Nyman says:

    Faruk,

    I hope this is not the case for the final release, though, and I'm also eager to see what Dean Edwards' and the WaSP part of the MS task force's reaction will be to this.

  • Interesting, but very frustrating.

    I totally agree to what Faruk said, but it seems to me that this is what Microsoft has always been doing and will always do – announce much, and provide little.

    Very sad, that there are so few improvement. Who wonders that they don’t release it toe the public – there might even gather people in Redmond to do demonstration against this ridiculous «development». πŸ™

  • Robert Nyman says:

    SilentWarrior,

    There is a big risk that Faruk might be right, but in this case, I hope he isn't. For the sake of the web! πŸ™‚

    My verdict will come after the final release, but this was certainly discomforting for now… πŸ™

  • Jeffrey Sandler says:

    Looks alot like a Firefox clone

  • Jim says:

    There goes the very last of my optimism.

    28th August 2001 – Internet Explorer 6.0 released.

    28th July 2005 – Internet Explorer 7.0 Beta 1 released.

    Inbetween? Two CSS bug fixes. Zero HTML improvements. Zero DOM improvements. How amazingly grateful I am for the chance to cover up Microsoft's shortcomings every day at work for another five years or so.

  • David Naylor says:

    From the IE7 Technical Overview:

    "The final release of Internet Explorer 7 will focus on improving the developer experience by reducing the time needed for developing and testing on different browsers."

    That's quite a hefty statement, considering the state of the current beta… But it could turn out to be good news, who knows. Seeing that Microsoft have been doing quite a lot of non-evil stuff recently, they might also turn out to follow up on their recent good-doings with a CSS 2.1 compliant IE7. We can at least dream, right?

  • I wrote my own report on this release, by now. I must say, my position has moved over from strong disappointment to pretty neutral, but read it for the details on why that is. πŸ™‚

  • Martin S. says:

    Too many stuff on the bad list. Hopefully the hope isn't gone, because this is just the beta 1. But as it looks right now the IE7 development team only have added a few "need to be in a modern web browser" things and tabbed browsing and now call it a new browser..

  • Robert Nyman says:

    Jeffrey,

    Absolutely, that was my first thought too! πŸ™‚

    Jim,

    That is, unfortunately, a very accurate description.

    A bit sad, isn't it?

    David,

    Yes, when I read that qoute I felt a bit dumbfounded. Reducing the time needed for multiple web browser testing? Hmm…

    Following standards, maybe? πŸ™‚

    David, Faruk, Martin,

    One still has to dream and hope. It is just the first beta, and I (naively?) hope that all the fuzz about the Microsoft/WaSP task force wasn't just a marketing ploy from Microsoft's side.

  • Robert,

    I have that almost literally in my own post: "[…] but a guy can hope! And be impatient." πŸ™‚

    I feared the marketing ploy aspects of this, too, but Molly's very convincing in this matter, and she's not one to be full of crock. πŸ˜‰

  • Shaun says:

    “The final release of Internet Explorer 7 will focus on improving the developer experience by reducing the time needed for developing and testing on different browsers.â€Â

    I think by that they mean between IE6 and IE7. IE7 is very compatible with IE6 – sadly ;(

  • Robert Nyman says:

    Faruk,

    Yes, as stated in some other places, it might be that the focus of this beta release was to get something out there, and that maybe the next one will include a better rendering engine.

    Doesn't sound too likely, but that's what I'm clinging on to. πŸ™‚

    Shaun,

    I didn't even think of it from that aspect. That it could actually be interpreted as:

    …reducing the time needed for developing and testing on different versions of Internet Explorer.

    God, I hope that's not the case.

  • Carl says:

    Robert,

    I've not seen nor downloaded nor tested the IE7 beta, but in the write-ups I've read, One of the development team mentioned IE7 will use DOCTYPE checking to adjust its behavior.

    I'm assuming that if you don't change your DOCTYPE, then IE7 will behave like IE6 (margin quirks etc) but with some new DOCTYPE value (it was implied) all our wildest dreams will come true or something like that. Now if we can just find out that new DOCTYPE value.

    Another biggie folks have been asking for is PNG transparency support. How's PNG support? In backgrounds? In dropdowns? Do tell.

  • Robert Nyman says:

    Carl,

    The <code>DOCTYPE</code> switch, by using a <acronym title="eXtensible HyperText Markup Language">XHTML</acronym> or a strict <acronym title="HyperText Markup Language">HTML</acronym> 4 <code>DOCTYPE</code>, is exactly the same as in <acronym title="Internet Explorer">IE</acronym> 6, for achieving strict rendering and correct box model.

    No extra renderering features, nothing.

    PNG support is supposed to work from what I've heard (haven't tested it myself yet), but there has also been mentioned in places that the PNG transparency doesn't work when the image is highlighted or printed.

  • Devon says:

    I'm torn about the application/xhtml+xml missing too. I want it to be ubiquitous, but I'd rather wait for a full and correct implementation rather than get something half baked out there on a widespread scale.

  • zcorpan says:

    Why do you want support for <code>application/xhtml+xml</code>? <code>application/xml</code> already works.

    Support for the <code&gt ;http://www.w3.org/1999/xhtml</code&gt; namespace is something different, and I don't think they will include support for it in IE7.

  • erinmars says:

    I would heed IE in the same manner that they use standards and listen to our requests – turn our collective backs on them. Users will get it soon enough and will switch. Those numbers are growing exponentially.

    We are barking up the wrong tree. MS does not care about the plight of those using standards. That is marketing speak. What makes them listen? A class action lawsuit against them for the agony, suffering, research, hacking, long hours and desolation of making totally compliant and beautiful css work in their pitiful excuse for browser software. Class actions involve stakeholders, attorneys, investors, PR, Wall Street –the only voices that MS really listens to.

    Would have given them the benefit of the doubt if I read anything promising on IE7 beta and had hopes that they would do the right thing. I should know better. All that they did was to adopt what they perceive as competition from ff: tabbed browsing and png support. They obviously care less about standards or the plight and frustration of professionals that are forced to work with their pathetic software. There is no reason for them to build for standards as long as we hack to get around their flaws. I am betting that they assign ie development to entry level, temp programmers. All the superstars are working on x-box.

    Here’s a money saving suggestion for MS: download the source code for ff, slap your brand on it and ship it with your OS. Thanks in advance. Save the time that your junior developers waste on IE. Your investors will be happy. You will be more efficient. Your user base will be better served. Most of your security issues as they relate to your browser software will be fixed. The Web development community can celebrate the expectation of a 40-hour work week.

    There are plenty of top-level law firms out there who would take up this battle just for the PR. This would be a global lawsuit. If you google ie sucks, you will see what I am talking about. Not to mention view source on code using variables relating to ie that I won’t post to this forum.

    The lawsuit would seek damages for the pain, agony and suffering by developers, designers and pages authors who adhere to standards for the good of the Internet community. Might as well toss in the clients who are billed extra hours for development and QA. Not to mention large e-commerce groups. Hosting services since they are the brunt of the QA. Change the css, post, check in ie, repeat….

    If we multiply the hours necessary to apply and test hacks by our numbers, then by our average hourly wage, I am quite certain that the amount is trillions of dollars and billions of hours- yes I know that the outcome of a settlement may not even produce a penny in my pocket – of course the lawyers would be the beneficiary. But if I could just do my job as expected, I would have more time to enjoy my life outside of work. I know that when I build a site using standards, it takes me on average another 5-10 hours to apply css hacks so that the site work similarly in IE(6+). I don’t go beyond that these days. If I had to do that, would just use one big image map and call it a day. Standards, schmandards.

  • Robert Nyman says:

    Devon, zcorpan,

    When it comes to <code>application/xhtml+xml</code>, as far as I know, it's the MIME type to use for <acronym title="eXtensible HyperText Markup Language">XHTML</acronym> while <code>application/xml</code> are for general <acronym title="eXtensible Markup Language">XML</acronym> files.

    I also like Anne's idea about a standard compliant IE in which it plays a role. But of course it has to be a stable and good implementation of it, otherwise it'll just do more harm than good.

    erinmars,

    Thanks for thoroughly expressing your opinion. Your stance seems a bit harsh to me personally, but I definitely share the pain you feel.

    However, if the <acronym title="Internet Explorer">IE</acronym> team delivers on what Chris addressed in his update post, it will definitely become a totally different ballpark for us. πŸ™‚

  • […] Holzschlag moeten we geduld hebben: That’s why it’s called beta. Dave Shea en Robert Nyman hebben enkele testresultaten op hun site geplaatst. Faruk Ates va […]

  • Apple says:

    What about Wilson's dream list of bug fixes? beta 2 seems to be out now…

  • Robert Nyman says:

    Apple,

    Yes, I've heard it should be out now, although not publicly available. If I get my hands on one, I will definitely see what it goes for.

  • Apple says:

    That would be fine…

  • Johnny Rocket says:

    I can state fairly definitively that the float bug is still GLARINGLY alive in IE 7. When I come anywhere near a floated element all the contents just disappear entirely in IE 7.

    But of course now I have no way to explicitly fix it because all the condition non-FF methods were eliminated. F@#$@#$ing microsoft.

    If you want to follow the specs, fine, but don't kill all the conditional crap AND refuse to follow the specs. This crap really pisses me off.

    -jr

  • Robert Nyman says:

    Johnny,

    If that’s the case, I definitely understand, and share, your frustration.

  • Johnny Rocket says:

    Take the notation from Chris Wilson OFF THIS PAGE. None of those bugs are fixed, the float bug is still ALL OVER IE7, bloclk level elemens have a hard coded 100% width bug.

    Oh, but I'm really glad they eliminated my ability to work around those issues.

    MICROSOFT YOU SUCK.

    -rt

  • Robert Nyman says:

    Johnny,

    I'll leave Chris' notation to show all sides of the discussion.

  • […] Robert Nyman: IE 7 beta 1 – a first glance […]

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