Helping the Internet Explorer team

Chris Wilson, lead program manager for the web platform in Internet Explorer, has posted to the IE development weblog asking for people’s opinions on which standards IE7 should best attempt to support. While there’s a lot of “IE doesn’t support standards!” warcrying out there on the web, it’s refreshing to see that the team do appear to be soliciting opinion on what the web development community wants them to work on. PPK has posted his top five suggestions and suggested that others do the same. Mine are:

[list=1]
[*]The DOM Event model. Leave window.event for backwards compatibility if you must, but support event objects being passed to event handlers, the event object being that described in the DOM Event spec, stopPropagation() and preventDefault() rather than cancelBubble and returnValue. That, all by itself, will make DOM scripting a lot cleaner; not easier, per se, since everyone knows that you need to check for window.event and then grab the target from srcElement or what-have-you, but event handlers will lose all the cross-browser forking stuff at top and bottom. This is my Number One Thing to be fixed.
[*]Support the CSS :hover selector on things other than links. There are loads of really cool CSS-only things possible with this (Eric’s pure CSS menus are the simplest example).
[*]Fix the HTML generated by richtext contenteditable boxes. It’s horrendous tag soup and could be much, much cleaner. This, I suspect, is at a pretty low level, since it’d affect things like copying-and-pasting HTML from IE into Outlook or similar as well, so it may not be part of the “web component” strictly.
[*]position: fixed. Please.
[*]Enlarge the length limit on bookmarklet javascript: urls, so decent bookmarklets work.
[/list]
That’s my list. The top two are the important ones. There are a fair few little CSS things that I’d like to see fixed, but essentially that’s just “make it work like Firefox”, which is a very unfair and unhelpful complaint. I’ll leave that complaint to the CSS experts, who can diagnose the particular problems.

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  • http://josephlindsay.com/ NZ Joe

    I’m sure the IE team have heard of Google, or is is blocked within MS? ;)

    http://www.google.com/search?q=%22I+wish+IE+had%22
    http://www.google.com/search?q=%22I+wish+IE+supported%22

    I’m sure a good librarian could help them build better search queries, but those 2 would be a good start

  • http://www.stillthinkinghq.com CubitGuy

    ROFL @ NZ_Joe

  • http://diigital.com cranial-bore

    Support for the CSS min-height and min-width comes to mind, although as these are CSS-2 its not really a mistake per-se they they aren’t supported now.

  • malikyte

    I’d have to say a proper support for the BOX model would be nice. I do agree with the :hover wish as Stuart stated in wish #2…

    Remove quirks mode?

  • VodkaFish

    I’m with cranial-bore, I’d really like to see min-width and min-height added.

  • http://oldkeep.com/ Arkkimaagi

    Proper PNG support without hacks, please!

  • Jim

    > I’d have to say a proper support for the BOX model would be nice.

    I wish people would stop harping on about this. Microsoft fixed Internet Explorer’s box model in *2001* when they released Internet Explorer 6.0. It is now *2005*.

    If your pages are still subject to the broken box model, it’s because you are triggering quirks mode with your non-compliant pages, so it’s your own damn fault.

    Internet Explorer has many, many problems with CSS to complain about, there’s no need to make shit up about the box model.

  • Andy Jones

    This may seem silly but why not just support all standards? If they just support some then I will still have to write hacks for those that aren’t supported. Standards are standards and I want them all included in IE, otherwise I will keep encouraging use of other browsers.

    Oh, and more importantly, I want Microsoft to support them, not make a ‘best attempt to support’ them.

    Is this too much to ask?

  • Jim

    > This may seem silly but why not just support all standards? If they just support some then I will still have to write hacks for those that aren’t supported.

    And why would Microsoft care if you have to write hacks? It’s not like the majority of web developers have the option of not working around Internet Explorer’s deficiencies.

    As far as they are concerned, they can bolt on a couple of end-user features to stop people switching, and carry on making web developers cover up Internet Explorer’s screw-ups.

    In fact, it’s probably more beneficial for them to do so – the more that HTML/CSS/DOM are held back, the more likely it is that intranet developers will pick XAML instead. The web as a platform is threatening to Microsoft, it’s in their interests to hold it back.

  • http://www.deanclatworthy.com Dean C

    Wouldn’t it be heaven if they fixed all the major IE bugs like the 3-pixel jog, peek-a-boo and box model ;)

  • http://www.lowter.com charmedlover

    I agree with the :hover selector, but I don’t see PNG support on there.

  • Thirteenva

    I want PNG support, I’d love to be able to use PNG’s in our web applications.

  • Thirteenva

    Please, fix the box model. But get it right this time. Don’t make me rely on a DocType definition to avoid IE’s Quirks mode.

    Get rid of quirks mode, just render pages as they are coded, bad coders will learn to do something we all need to do.. DEBUGGING.

    Fix floats. I get inconsistent results and extra spaces underneath.

    I should NEVER need to use the “height 1%” hack, yet its all over my web application.

    I want true PNG support with full transparency – this was slated to be fixed with IE 5 but never was. WHY????

    :hover should apply more elements than just links.

    min-height, max-height, min-width, max-width, Support for these would be great!!!!!!!!!

  • Darran

    I think every browser should have to support a minumum in CSS functionality, image types etc, and then if they want they can add whatever bells and whistles they want. It’d make all our lives easier…as Web Developers.

    The Box model and dotted borders I definitely think they should fix.

  • http://www.36-degrees.co.uk cloak

    Support for Alpha transparency in PNGs would be a god send. The three pixel margin bug needs sorting out too. I’d like IE to understand positioning – that would be a joy.

  • http://www.lowter.com charmedlover

    The most annoying PNG error is the discoloring. Alpha transparency is nice, but at least get the right colors and such!

  • http://www.ryanguill.com Rynoguill

    the best improvement they could make in my opinion is to release a statement saying the ie is dead and that all users of ie need to switch to firefox immediately. I just have a hard time thinking they are going to “fix” anything. They’re going to leave the same bugs in there and add a few new buggy features all because they don’t want to “break” all of the websites that are out there built directly for ie.

  • Anonymous

    suppose at the end of the day what i’d like to see is microsoft use the gecko engine or pull out of the browser market all together as to put it politely, ie is pants :D

    ie ain’t doing microsoft any favours as i see it.

  • Tom

    Come on, do they need any help? You only have to look at any set of CSS tips to find the part that IE cant understand. I’m not gonna get my hopes up about standard support one bit.

  • Josey

    What’s all the noise on the site over IE using gecko, there are about 20 comments on it. Are they making the switch?

  • Haresh

    Good work mates.. but I have one question. Why we need to support IE improvements ?.

    Actually Microsoft tring to slowdown in technology improvements, so IE is not supporting CSS Standards

    so why we need to support that type company?

    Instead of supporting IE. We can spread mozilla Firefox

    That must be good for web developers also

    Thanks..
    Hareesh

  • _Yoyo_

    @charmedlover
    “Alpha transparency is nice, but at least get the right colors and such!”
    use PngOut, it will make png look same way in IE and other browsers.

  • rich_gib

    how about support for xforms, that would be an impressive step for them especially with mozillas project moving so quickly

  • hdsol

    We as developers are the root of the problems. If enough of us didn’t make our sites work in IE then after a while, people might get the hint and switch. Once Ie’s numbers started dropping of the earth they will get the hint to get compliant. As long as we work around the junk the give us, they have no incentive to do better.

  • http://www.dustindiaz.com polvero

    Steve already covered the things that I’d like to see in IE7

    Those things, plus a few more proper DOM specs that stuart mentioned in the post.

  • Rimantas

    “If your pages are still subject to the broken box model, it’s because you are triggering quirks mode with your non-compliant pages, so it’s your own damn fault.”

    Oh please. Do you consider anything (event empty line, not to mention xml declaration) going above DOCTYPE to be non standards compliant?
    It toggles quirks mode too, you know…

  • Jim

    Rimantas, I suggest you check RFC 2854 and Appendix C of the XHTML 1.0 recommendation. Including an XML declaration in a text/html document is indeed against the specifications.

  • http://www.toluseunfawole.com toluf

    if I can use .png graphics. I can forgive IE for all other offence, because presently the way they make you keep changing file format to suit the browser is annoying

  • http://www.polenmusic.com mntoner

    I agree with Thirteenva, get rid of quirks mode. Please

  • http://www.vinniegarcia.com/ vgarcia

    Rimantas, I suggest you check RFC 2854 and Appendix C of the XHTML 1.0 recommendation. Including an XML declaration in a text/html document is indeed against the specifications.

    But sticking a newline or comment above the DOCTYPE will still keep your document valid while triggering quirks mode in IE. This angers me to no end because I use @import statements in JSP pages, which leave newlines unless I strip it myself (making my server-side code far less readable). I’m sure ColdFusion coders have even more gripes than I do.

  • Jeff Doolittle

    Fix the Box Model!!!!!

  • Rajan

    Support for freezing the Heading (TH) tag in the table. Netscape already supports this but still IE not even though this is W3C standard.

  • Juergen Erhardt

    I would like that they fixed the horizontal scroll problem with frames using xhtml.

  • dbsmith

    As well as all the things that need fixing (if M$ don’t know what they are by now, we’ve got no hope), I’d like to see support for more selectors (adjacent sibling and attribute) as well as more pseudo elements (:before, :after and :first-child).

  • http://www.autodirector.co.uk/ ceeb

    These are great suggestions, and let’s hope MS implement them in IE7.0.

    But, how much will it help web developers in the short term? IE7 will only be available on XP SP2 and Windows 2003 Server. At best, that’s perhaps 20% of users. Whilst it’s a step in the right direction, it will be many years until we can drop support for IE6. Perhaps MS will recommend that users with unsupported OS’s should switch to Firefox?!

  • Allen

    No, of course not. IE is “already a wonderful browser, this simply adds convient functionality for newer customers”. :rolleyes:

  • Chris Marsh

    My request is for IE to support the following:

    display: table;

    With this option working on major browsers, we can all use structural HTML with the flexibility of the table layout model.

  • Anonymous

    In no particular order but the following would make all layouts possible with css .
    1) min-width max-width
    2) position:fixed;
    3) display:table; display table-cell etc
    4) Alpha transparency
    5) Fix “haslayout” to work on elements that don’t have dimensions. That will kill about a million bugs.

  • Bob Lewis

    Surely the answer that EVERYONE should give, bar NONE is simple: Conform to international standards and STOP all this proprietary nonsense. Make ALL future Microsoft browser code W3C CONFORMANT – there is NO halfway house in terms of COMMITMENT to standards.

    You’re either a Chicken or a Pig (Eggs vs. Bacon = merely involved vs.totally committed) – think about it a minute and you’ll understand.

    Come on MS stop being Chicken and become a Pig! COMMIT to W3C wholeheartedly and stop abrogating your responsibility by trying to fob it off onto specific individual requests from developers.

    Regards.

  • jjonje

    I would love to see more selectors implemented – (example: p + p, div > p etc …). I am so tired of catering to IE and having to set a whole separate class just for the first element. For example if I wanted all paragraphs to have a 10px space between them I should be able to set a rule like so: p + p {margin-top:10px;}. Instead I have to set 2 rules like so: p {margin-top:10px;} p.first {margin-top:0;} so that only the paragraphs that follow a pragraph have a top margin.

  • Leezig

    1) Render pages in the way Firefox does

    2) err…that’s it

  • B. Seiberlich

    I agree with all the changes stated above and add text-shadow support. So far only Safari supports it.

  • Peter

    Currently, if I throw up a div with a height and width of 100×100, and then add a border, IE adds the border to the div, making a 1 pixel border now 102×102, adding 2 pixels with the height and width (1 pixel on all sides), whereas other browsers I believe do this correctly (or at least as I expected) and use the box of 100×100, and shrink the box by 2 pixels (or at least shrink the usable space to 98×98, which I would expect.

    ARGH!

  • Jacques

    “min-width” and “min-height” please!!! Working with liquid designed, tableless sites stink in IE.

  • Scott Reynolds

    A simple support for printing would be a great help such as zooming and also horizontal layout.

  • Scott

    “We as developers are the root of the problems. If enough of us didn’t make our sites work in IE then after a while, people might get the hint and switch. Once Ie’s numbers started dropping of the earth they will get the hint to get compliant.”
    Posted by: hdsol

    Right. And in the meantime we can all explain to our clients how we’re involved in this noble effort and they should just hang on for a while till the hordes of former and prospective customers who can no longer access the client’s site switch browsers or MS fixes IE. Great idea, hdsol. Must be nice to be independently wealthy and not have to worry about little things like clients.

  • Frank Lesesne

    Please support scrolling data tables! A fixed with scrollable table body!

    I think documentation says it is supported, but I have never gotten it to work without javascript.

  • scattermachine

    What if MS only implemented the reccomendations that the W3C reccommend. I mean, since MS is part of the consortium – they should at least listen to {i}themselves{/i}. If not the rest of the world.

    Wait, was I using common sense again? Sorry.

  • Scrambled

    Support the W3C Standards so completely that it passes the acid 2 test http://webstandards.org/act/acid2/ Since this will be the inly update till Longhorn comes out in 2007 or 2008 or 2009 etc