When I heard that Microsoft had released Internet Explorer 8 Beta 1 for programmers and designers, I knew it was pointless to resist the temptation. I always like to see new products and what new features they have come up with. Internet Explorer has always been a somewhat controversial browser because it did not respect the community’s standards for development and rendering of CSS and other common tags found on today’s web pages. Version 8, however, is supposed to be much better at these things and allow developers to use the same code without any modifications to work for Firefox, Opera and Internet Explorer(along with many other browsers).
Previous versions of Internet Explorer, were using more “proprietary” code and rendering methods which forced developers to use some code variations (sometimes known as hacks) to allow their pages to appear correctly on IE6 and IE7. The problem with CSS rendering was, of course, much more defined in IE6 because CSS was not as widely used when IE6 was developed and shipped. Internet Explorer 7 has much better CSS rendering for standard pages, but most certainly did not respect the community’s standards. This has been discussed extensively in the past and you can find results or even test this for yourself using the Acid2 tests.
Here comes Internet Explorer 8. This time Microsoft say they listened and designed this version to be compliant with the community and allow a better development and user experience. The layout is pretty much the same as it was with IE7. Same look and behavior overall, and this version passes the Acid2 test, which is a pretty big deal for a Microsoft product. I gave IE8 a quick test and it seems to work pretty well, but this is only a beta release, so bugs are to be expected and they did show up too. I had a couple pages that did not look right at all.
There are many new features in this version and I will cover them in the next post because it would be too long for a single post. The ones worth mentionning are certainly the “activities” and “webslices”. Activities add a contextual menu to the text you highlight and allow you to, for example, select an address and see a map of that location directly on the page you are browsing in a pop-up window. Webslices allow you to add a “slice” or a part of a page to a favorites bar at the top and keep an eye on it for any changes. The example I saw was for an eBay auction, so anytime a bid gets added, the page notifies you and you can see only that part of the page as a pop-up rather than having to navigate back to that page.
I will cover the new features, with screenshots, in the next post ;-)