Falling Leaves: the Ardes blog

Archives filed under "web standards"

Javascript Won’t Save U After All

Ray Drainville

In the past couple of months, two authors whom I admire have renewed interest in Dean Edwards’ confusingly-named IE7 script—a Javascript hack that makes Internet Explorer version 6 behave more like a standards-conscious browser.

The very title of Eric Meyer’s article—“Javascript will save us all”—suggest that we’re about to enter a golden age in support for the seven-year-old browser. And Jeremy Keith has recently advised people how to gauge when to use the IE7 script.

Well, I don’t know about you, but to me, this is more than music to my ears, it’s the equivalent of Bach being played on a glass harmonica right next to a chocolate fountain. But years of struggling with IE6 have hardened my defences. Since using Meyer’s CSS zero reset I’ve had great results with IE6—but only from the beginning of a site design I hasten to add. As I’ve written earlier the reset does little to fix a pre-existing design.

Dean’s script has popped up now & again over the years to tempt me again & again with its promises. But it’s nowhere near as well-known as you’d expect for something that gets such high praise from some very astute authors. Why is that?

Well, it might be because it doesn’t really do what you hope. It’s certainly nothing like a magic bullet. In fact, I’d recommend that you stay away from it. Why? Because you’ll have to go through the hard work of declaring a separate stylesheet for IE6 anyway: adding another script to the mix just adds more to the confusion of figuring out why something doesn’t work.

Both Edwards’ script and Keith’s recent article popped into my head because recently we’ve been working on the site of one of our favourite clients. In the course of making the site more amenable to search engine optimisation, it became clear that we should revisit the CSS of this, the last site we developed without the CSS reset.

Now, it might seem like I’m cheating in the above examples: I removed the painstakingly-tweaked IE6 CSS when I introduced Edwards’s script. But I’m not. If I were to follow Meyer’s & Keith’s advice & used the IE7 script as a basis for my IE6-oriented work, I’d have a hell of a lot more tweaking to do, plus I’d have to cope with the rigmarole involved in dealing with someone else’s script.

So, take some advice: if something looks like it’ll magically solve all the problems that have consumed years of painful work, don’t bet your reputation, or your schedule on it.

IE8 Lagging in Standards Support (Comparatively Speaking)

Ray Drainville

I don’t know how I missed this (well, I do, I’ve been ridiculously busy), but about a month ago Microsoft issued a statement about planned CSS standards support in the upcoming IE8. The good news is that CSS 2.1 support will be almost complete—good, but not great, considering that this standard is rather old now, as it’s been a “candidate recommendation since 2004”.

The bad news is the level of support for CSS3 elements. Look through that list & try to keep afloat in the sea of red “no”s that signify their CSS3 support—or lack thereof. Of course, CSS3 is still very much a work in progress and is unlikely to be a candidate recommendation for another decade, judging from the pace of “Last Calls” for various components of the CSS3 spec. Nevertheless, the developers behind Safari & Firefox have been implementing a lot of the spec. There’s some fantastic stuff in it (multi-column support! colours with opacity!), that I for one would like to use immediately—and which we do, on our own site & some others we’re currently developing. But for the foreseeable future, if you’re using IE, you won’t see these things.

Given the clusterfuck of discontent that was IE7, and that Safari & Firefox have cleaned their clocks with current & emerging standards support, one might think that Microsoft would take the opportunity to really push IE8 to be a 1st-class browser. But no, they’ve just decided to tread so softly, so slowly, that the net result will be that IE8 will be that much farther in the distance. I mean, IE8b has just passed the Acid2 test. Hooray. Safari & Opera have worked on complete compliance with Acid3—and have succeeded.

This sucks. There are fantastic things taking place in CSS, in particular CSS3—which you can experience right now in Firefox & especially Safari. And I’d like all my site’s viewers to be able to see these effects in action.

Conversion to TextMate

Ray Drainville

So Ian’s been extolling the virtues of the Mac text editor TextMate for some time now. I’ve been dubious, because I’m a long-time BBEdit user — I’m a big fan of BBEdit’s HTML palette. But in a brief session, Ian showed me how easy it was to added “snippets” of code for long-standing quirks: for instance, “curly quotes” and other typographic titbits.

So he sold me on the application, and I’m making a switch to TextMate. The creation of bundles of typographic and/or frequently-used (X)HTML will make my life a lot easier. If you’re a TextMate user, you may be interested in the bundle we’ve got available online. They may be very helpful.