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Implications of IE7

What will it mean for web developers?

12:28 pm on Jul 30, 2005 (gmt 0)

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On a related topic to this thread [webmasterworld.com], I'd like to talk about what implications the release of IE7 is likely to have for web developers. Between tedster and SuzyUK, we've got a pretty good list of bug fixes that supposedly will be out in IE7b2:

From tedster:
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

From SuzyUK:
* 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

Additionally, there are the security fixes, anti-phishing measures which may help bring along a greater awareness and caution in surfers, etc.

So what does all this mean for webmasters? How will our jobs change? Will things be easier, harder, or a little of both?

One specific topic I'm interested in is the

* html
CSS hack for IE. I read somewhere (can't remember where now) that the hack works in IE7b1. I presume that it will also work in Beta 2. But with the next beta supposedly fixing so many CSS bugs that we've been hacking around using "asterisk-htm," as well as other hacks, what will happen to the pages that contain those hacks? If IE7 interprets CSS correctly, yet it still reads our hacks (which may contain technically-incorrect values), what is the solution? All I can think of is to use entirely separate stylesheets for IE7, inserted using IE Conditional Statements.

This appears to be the exact reverse of what I'd been afraid of all along. My fear had been that the bugs would still exist, but the hacks wouldn't work anymore either. Now, however, it looks like the bugs are fixed, the hacks aren't necessary, but the hacks will still be read. My head hurts.

1:10 pm on July 30, 2005 (gmt 0)

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That is the very reason I have always avoided using hacks. It would indeed make your head hurt.
2:18 pm on July 30, 2005 (gmt 0)

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Yes, I avoid hacks too. But sometimes, they're the only solution, particularly when you either don't have access to the source code, or don't care to add extra markup tags.

But that quite aside, hacks have been used by a lot of people. What will the results be when the hacks are read by a standards-compliant (or more so) IE? What steps will need to be taken to keep pages rendering correctly?

And besides CSS, what other potential problems or benefits will IE7 have on our jobs? Will it effect users' surfing habits, and if so, what impact will that have on effective design, presentation, and trust?

Anyone care to speculate?

2:26 pm on July 30, 2005 (gmt 0)

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Well, hopefully the hacks (being non-standard) would be bugfixed as well. I'm sure the IE team knows about this, and judging by ther previous commitment to backwards compatibility I'd guess they'd remove stuff like * html (which really was only being used as a hack).

Anyway, this is great news! As developers we'll still have to support IE5.5 and 6 (IE5.0 is dropping off the radar fast) but this will fit into my development methods nicely and I develop standards compliant sites from the get-go and bugfix for IE. Bonus :)

3:27 pm on July 30, 2005 (gmt 0)

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I think IE7 will have little or no impact on Web dev' practices in the next five years.

We've all seen in our server logs that users will cling to the familiar even when superior alternatives are available. We know that IE7 cannot be adopted by corporations running W2K. And we know that developers and managers alike are paranoid about dropping support for a once-popular browser, whatever the benefits of pushing users to upgrade their browsing platform.

I suggest that most developers will wait for years for their users to migrate from earlier versions of IE. IE7 offers nothing that isn't already available to bolder, smarter designers - the remainder must change their philosophy or continue to languish in mediocracy.

3:35 pm on July 30, 2005 (gmt 0)

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If you designed for a specific browser, you may need now to redesign for a new version of it.

There is no way you can expect MS (who have no real understanding of the term "backward compatibility") to have replicated all the quirks of IE<7 in IE=7

That's a business risk you took when your made the decision to design for IE.

It's about now you should be checking how compatible your code is with IE7. You won't get a definite answer -- MS will be tweaking for a while yet. But your reports of incompatibilities may edge MS towards being a little more backwards compatible than they would have been.

So, if you have an IE-oriented website, it is seriously in your interest to start testing for IE7 issues today.

4:12 am on Aug 1, 2005 (gmt 0)

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What will it mean for web developers?

Nothing except more work.
Just another browser that you'll have to open up your page in to make sure it isn't broken by the browser.


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