Archive for July, 2005

Saturday, July 30th 2005

Many Rendering Bugs Fixed for IE7 Beta 2

Chris Wilson of the IE Team has just posted a list of bugs that have been fixed for Beta 2 of IE7. It’s a list which will greatly reduce the number and severity of headaches within the web developer community. Check it out:

In IE7, we will fix as many of the worst bugs that web developers hit as we can, and we will add the critical most-requested features from the standards as well. Though you won’t see (most of) these until Beta 2, we have already fixed the following bugs from PositionIsEverything and Quirksmode:

  • 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

In addition we’ve added support for the following

  • 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

I’m looking forward to seeing how IE7 will render my web gallery, which makes use of floats and fixed-position divs.

I’m also very much looking forward to the day when we can make websites from scratch and see our CSS code just work in all the major browsers… And the following may sound strange coming for a Firefox addict and advocate, but I truly hope that Microsoft puts a huge marketing campaign behind IE7 once it has shipped so it as quickly as possible replaces IE6 (where still in use) on Windows XP. Firefox will have the older Windows versions for lunch, and through continuous innovation it will probably keep growing on the XP & Vista versions too.

Update: Now if only Gecko would get support for soft hyphens, I would be a truly happy geek…

Thursday, July 28th 2005

Firefox Above 10% on the Western Continents

XiTi’s latest Firefox stats report shows that the best browser now has more than 10% in the US, Europe and Australia. (11.78%, 14.11% and 14.41% respectively.) It’s interesting to see that the less developed continents have a lower proportion of Firefox usage. One would almost expect the opposite.

In Europe, Finland is still way ahead with 31%. Impressive. I wonder why Finland are so much better at adopting Firefox than for instance Sweden, their next-door neighbour? Here, Firefox is only about half as popular.

Thursday, July 28th 2005

A Few Words on IE7 Beta 1

If you didn’t already know, Microsoft has just shipped beta 1 of IE7. In fact, I’ve already had a visitor here using IE7. Being a website developer (although an amateur) I have been hoping that they would improve their severely broken CSS support. Back in February, when the planned update to IE was announced, it was unclear to what extent the rendering engine was going to be improved. Sadly, it now seems all too clear.

Reading the official what’s-new page, it seems us web-devs will just have to hope for a speedy release of IE8 with some real improvements:

CSS Updates – Internet Explorer 7 includes fixes for issues with the Cascading Style Sheets (CSS) feature. Both the peekaboo and guillotine bugs have been addressed, and work on other issues is under way to provide web developers with reliable and robust CSS functionality.

Oh, so both the peekabo and the guillotine bugs have been fixed? Well, that really is good news. But it also makes it quite clear what the prime objective for IE7 is: to stem the flood of people moving to Firefox. They’ve thrown in some tabs and a search box, hoping that doing so will be enough to plug the never-ending leakage of IE’s market share. In fact, IE7 Beta 1 is, at least on the surface, pretty much a Firefox clone.

Over at the IE Blog, someone has now posted a screenshot of how IE7 fares with the Acid2 test. Not surprisingly, by now, it sucks just as hard as IE6 does.

Back in March, Chris Wilson said:

Additionally, with every subsequent major release of IE, we have expanded and improved our implementation of web standards, particularly CSS and HTML.

Well. I don’t claim to know every detail of the IE version history, but my feeling is that the improvements made to the IE7 rendering engine (so far, at least) makes it one of the IE releases which made the smallest improvement over the previous version.

Quite obviously, Microsoft woke up far too late to be able to make any real improvements to IE. When they finally got started, there just wasn’t time to address such nonessential things as standards support. At least, this is the interpretation I make of the comments made by the IE developers. They’re always mentioning a lack of resources and making there’s only so much we can do-type of statements.

However, there may still be some improvements before the final release though. A quote from the Internet Explorer 7 Beta 1 Technical Overview gives us at least some hope:

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.

If there’s any truth in that statement, Microsoft are going to make pretty serious changes to the rendering engine before shipping the final. Also, if they deliver on that promise, it would get them in line with their new Microsoft does (almost) no evil policy. (I’m talking about fully documented & open XML document formats in the next Office, improved standards compatibility of, MSN Virtual Earth being virtually cross-browser and with open API’s, etc.) Well, we’ll have to wait and see. But, I tell you this – if they make the final IE7 fully CSS 2.1 compliant then I won’t say another negative thing about Microsoft here for at least six months a whole year. And that’s a promise.

Update: Just remembered another good thing Microsoft has done recently. They remade, in a strive for total standards compliance! XHTMLstrict, baby, strict! Of course, there are still some errors – but they have been narrowed down to seven in all. Not bad for such a large website front page!

Monday, July 25th 2005

First Look at MSN Virtual Earth

Microsoft just launched its Virtual Earth map service. It’s pretty useful, at least for the US. Parts of the US (no idea how large a part) are zoomable to a much higher degree than with Google Maps. Also, the coolness factor is way higher for Microsoft’s service, thanks to the use of semitransparent boxes on top of the map, scroll-wheel zooming and a nifty little compass which can be used for auto-scroll type scrolling.

I did notice today though, while playing around, that Google Maps automatically resizes the map area to fit the browser window. This has maybe been the case for a long time, but I hadn’t noticed until today. Nifty.

The main advantages I see with MSN Virtual Earth over Google Maps are these:

  1. Easier navigation: Mouse-wheel scrolling and double-click center & zoom. Having to reach for the zoom-slider with Google Maps (or moving one hand to + and – on the keyboard) feels clunky. I’m simply presuming Google will be adding these features in the not-too-distant future.
  2. More intuitive local search: If you zoom in on an area with Google Maps, then do a local search for, say, Internet cafes, it will first zoom out one notch before showing you the results. I’m sure this is supposed to be helpful in some way, but I mostly find it annoying. Secondly, if you then scroll away from your search results, Google won’t automatically give you the corresponding results for the new area you’re looking at. Virtual Earth does just that, which to me seems like the more intuitive (& useful) thing to do.
  3. Full screen map: Having the whole screen width filled with the map is sleek, and makes maximum use of the users pixels. It looks good too.

Google’s hybrid mode is (IMO) a little clearer than Virtual Earth’s labeled aerial photos. Also, when zooming in on the UK, London still isn’t visible at this level. Rather strange, seeing that places such as Weymouth (never even heard of it) are.

Another minor slipup is that the blue search area at the top isn’t semi-transparent when using Firefox. (It is in IE.) Checking the source code, it seems like all they would have to add to fix this is opacity: 0.90 for the ID #search_bg. This is the current CSS for the search box area:

#search_bg {position: absolute; height: 73px; top: 0px; left: 0px; width: 100%; background: rgb(39,101,171) url(i/header_bg.png) repeat-y center; overflow: hidden; filter: alpha(opacity=90); z-index:31; border-bottom: solid 1px black;}

All in all, though, Microsoft have produced a pretty good mapping service, and when it covers a larger part of the world, maybe even us Swedes can have some real use for it.

Edit: I never thought I would be giving Microsoft free PR on my blog, but I guess the times are a-changing.

Friday, July 22nd 2005

Firefox 1.5’s Sanitize Needs a New Name

One of the new features in Firefox 1.5 (Deer Park) will be what has so far been known as the Sanitize feature. It basically consists of a menuitem which brings up a dialog, with which you can wipe all or parts of the personal data that the web browser has gathered during web surfing – i.e. cookies, web addresses, etc. The only problem is the name of this feature. The word sanitize somehow gives the wrong associations… Thankfully, this is being worked on. I agree with Ben Basson that Clear Tracks would be a much better label for this functionality. Mainly because it describes what is being done, without making me think of toilets. 😉

Update (2005-08-22): The feature in question has now been named Clear Private Data, which is even better than Clear Tracks if you ask me.

Sunday, July 17th 2005

Official Shots of the New Volvo C70

Volvo have just announced the new C70, as well as publishing several photos of the cabriolet/coupé.

The new Volvo C70, seen from the front.

This is one gorgeous car if you ask me. It looks like a hot coupé with the top up and it looks like a sleek cruiser with the top down. Well done, Volvo! I especially like it from the angle above (larger version). (I have updated my little graphic at the top with the new C70.)

At a first glance, the front of this car looks almost identical to the S40. Somehow though, it feels smoother and more elegant. If you do a side by side comparison you can spot quite a few differences. Firstly, the strips on the bumper have been removed. Secondly the V-shape of the bonnet stretches all the way down under the bumper. Furthermore, the sub-bumper grille (what’s that part called?) has a smoother look and the lights, V-shape, bonnet and bumper all are more rounded than on the S40. Also, the sides of the car are quite different when you think about it.

The rear is best studied in this photo. In a previous post I was wondering where they’d stick the C70 badge, since there isn’t really room between the lights and the number plate. (That’s where the badge is on the current S40 for instance.) Turns out they’ve stuck it under the lights instead, just like (I later realized) they did on the old C70. It’s a real shame they couldn’t hide the aerial though.

Hopefully, they’ve also stuck a big whopping stereo unit in this car, just as they did in the old C70. (For those of you who haven’t got the details fresh in your memory: 4x60W and 10 Dynaudio speakers. An optional 4x100W Dolby Pro Logic system, with 13 speakers including two 9-inch subwoofers built into the rear seats.)

Edit: I just thought I’d add a few words about the engines. It sounds like the 220bhp turbo will be the top option. That’s a bit of a disappointment. Hopefully, Volvo will get to their senses and later install a 260bhp+ engine in this magnificent looking car.

Thursday, July 7th 2005