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I haven’t used IE7 yet (because the now-defunct shop that sold me my computer also charged me for a pirated version of Windows, the bastards), but it seems to have some groovy enhancements to the (ahem) somewhat creaky support for css that we’d worked around in IE6.
This is particularly notable, as I imagine that the decision to upgrade IE was taken because of its dreadful security, which had more embarrassingly exposed holes than a Swiss Cheese at the gynaecologist. Let’s be honest: 99.99% of the world don’t give a hoot about Web Standards, as all the Websites they use for banking, online purchasing, doing whatever work fine with IE (because if they didn’t, the site’s business would obviously suffer). So we’re kidding ourselves, I think, if we say that customers demanded upgrades to the browser’s css support.
But when even the Department of Homeland Security warned about the security problems, big corporations began to get worried. And if that worry caused big companies moved from Internet Explorer to Firefox (say), they might realise that they’re no longer tied to the perpetual upgrade cycle of Windows and Office. So the mighty beast of Redmond stirred, to ensure that something as cobwebbed as IE6 didn’t embarrass shiny new Windows Vista.
The fact that we’ve got all the splendid new css loveliness is a bonus, and (as far as I can tell) is due to Chris Wilson and the über-shmoozer, Molly Holzschlag and my colleagues in the WaSP Microsoft Task Force. Chris, if you’re ever round Birmingham and at a loose end, there’s a pint of Guinness and a balti on me waiting for you. (Molly’s already had hers.)
Girlishness and churlishness
The reaction by the web development community has been unexpected. Mac-lovin’ designery types like Clarkey and Dave Shea have been blushing in maidenly joy as IE7 embraces their sites in his strong manly arms, and runs his fingers through their selectors.
Others in the community were less enamoured, saying that it’s a disgrace we had to wait this long, Firefox is the dog’s bollocks and Microsoft sucks rhinocerous cocks in hell. I agree that it is a shame we had to wait this long, and Firefox is the mutt’s nuts, although it’s hardly without its own rendering errors, ditto Opera and Safari. (And, for the record, I think what Microsoft does with pachyderms in its own time is its own affair.)
It seems pretty blummin’ churlish to berate Microsoft for not upgrading its browser, not listening to the many trillions of standards-evangelising web developers worldwide – and then, when they pull a rabbit out of a hat, putting the boot in. Assuming they don’t introduce new bugs, what they’ve done is a Good Thing, and I’m just glad that screaming in frustration while testing will go away (fingers crossed, fingers crossed).
So what next?
What’s missing from IE7 is a frequent topic for discussion. Some are up in arms because it can’t deal with “real” xhtml, as it refuses the application/xhtml+xml MIME type, which is evil and wrong. I’m evil and wrong, too, because I don’t much care – and anyway, it’ll be fixed.
More importantly for those of us who want to brighten the lives of millions with our web 2.0 mad skillz is the ommission of the
after pseudo-elements and
<font> is legitimate because it’s easier than css. The purist in me rebels more because content should be, well, in the content – the markup.
Gimme tables, or give me death! Errr …
Dave Shea suggests that IE7 might add css tables in version 7.5, and expresses his wish that they be added more urgently than generated content. I think he’s right, although I think the css spec for tables is flawed (but accept that no-one agrees with me except my mum, and that’s only out of loyalty).
As I see it, the main block to universal adoption of css is the mad fact that something as simple as genuinely equal-height boxes will still be a holy grail until IE supports them thar display tables.
If you can sort that out, Mr Wilson, I’ll even cook you my special evil chicken.