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Internet Explorer 10 Platform Preview 1

I was surprised to read this week that Microsoft is not only working on IE10, but has already published a Platform Preview 1 available for download since April 12th. There’s also a guide for developers available which accompanies IE 10 Platform Preview 1. In this guide you can read about several new features which are going to be supported which are compatible with the W3C Working Draft:

  1. Flexible Box (“Flexbox”) Layout, which will allow child element positioning, use unused space within the box and handle resizing and different browser resolutions.
  2. Grid Alignment, which will allow to divide a container into rows and columns for better positioning and better handling of screen resolution changes. MS’ people are the ones currently signed on this draft.
  3. Multi-column Layout Module, which allows content to be split into columns with a “gap and a rule between them”.
  4. Gradients, which allows gradient coloring of the background of graphical elements.

From a preliminary reading of these features and abstracts, it looks like the first three items are targeting not only the web developer’s usual difficulties of supporting different resolutions and browser resizing, but also the dynamic layout of the tablet world which storms upon us all.

With regards to IE10, being used to a slow delivery pace of IE browsers over the years, especially the 5 year gap in between IE6 and the release of IE7, Microsoft finally seem to realize that they have to take the browser development to a rapid pace, and especially compete with Google Chrome’s ultra quick release of their browser updates. Unfortunately my current favorite browser, Firefox, seems to lag behind, at least as far as the version numbering and the buzz involved, but not necessarily in quality. I guess that as long as Firefox maintains the leadership in extensions, or so it seems, it will still find a place amongst IE and Chrome. I’m uncertain however regarding IE’s extensions. I guess that MS has to encourage a developer community to develop more and more extensions in order to compete with Chrome and FF.

Finally – if I had just one wish to ask of Microsoft and IE10, I’d ask that they improve their sluggish Developer Tools, specifically the JavaScript debugger. There are not enough bad words in the dictionary for this utility. It’s performance is terrible when it comes to complex pages, and the debugger is not a match to Firebug or Chrome’s. I was hoping that in IE9 the Developer Tools would be better than in IE8, but I was extremely disappointed. You have to have quite a strong workstation for this or it’s a pain. Therefore I fear that in IE10, Microsoft isn’t planning on improving it and would stick to the “bad old” Developer Tools. I know that it’s supposed to be a major improvement from the Developer Toolbar we had in IE6 and IE7, but it’s so behind the competition. In order to debug JavaScript in IE, I forgo the debugger in the Developer Tools and attach Visual Studio to IE – otherwise it’s simply impossible to debug, even pages which aren’t necessarily loaded with Ajax client code. I must say that the other tabs (e.g. CSS etc.) are also not worthy competition comparing to the alternatives. In short – a major overhaul is required in this area.

All in all, I’m content that Microsoft seems to be taking on this seriously, providing faster and more standard compliant browsers. We, users and developers alike, are only expected to gain from this competition, as long as the different browser manufacturers maintain W3C standards, unlike Microsoft’s earlier browsers.

 
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Posted by on 29/04/2011 in Software Development

 

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