If, like me, you've been keeping a keen eye on the IE9 Test Drive over recent months, then the IE9 beta release has been a - dare I say - exciting event. So exciting, in fact, that it caused my other eye to become keen. I now have 2 keen eyes.
Let's face it. Internet Explorer has always been the most widely used browser. And yet, due to a near-on 100% market share back in the IE6 days, and possibly some bad, short-sighted decisions during this time, Internet Explorer has been a bit of an anchor on progress. With this in mind, IE is a very naughty boy and gets no supper.
New web-dev technologies have been knocking on the door and making a noise for a long time now, but now the door has opened, and they are being introduced and recognised by everyone at the party. Good times, with mini scotch eggs and lager a-plenty. Splendid.
I'm not going to dwell and go-on about the IE issues of the past - poor CSS support, hacks, security, IE stole my dinner money, blah blah blah etc. These have been discussed in length since - what seems like - the 1600s. We all know the script. We all know the reasons. We're all a bit bored of it all tbh.
What I am going to do is tell you what I think about IE9 and I'm going to do that now and by-crikey you're going to read it and take note of the things I say so take heed:
"Chrome" is the word, as it does have a little of the "Google Chrome" about it. And that's no bad thing. They seem to have taken the same strategy as they have with Windows 7, with a "less is more" approach. The beauty of this is: more screen space for websites and less chrome related visual distractions. WIN, as us geeks would say.
They've also opted for the large back button. A lot was discussed about this when FireFox took this approach. I think it makes sense. Statistics show it's the most widely used button, so therefore important, so therefore make it prominent (in this case: big). No 'buts'. Case closed. Shush!
So it's a kind of Chrome / FireFox hybrid in terms of its chrome. "Haters" will know doubt squawk: "They're just copying them! Stupid copy-cat poo-heads!" before laughing in a rather foul, nasally manner. Well yes. But in a way we've always wanted Microsoft to take note of better ways of doing things, and I'm all up for the "if you can't beat them, join them (and then beat them)" approach. Especially in this case, and especially if it means a better user experience for the majority of web users.
Moving on ...
It's fast and responsive. That's it. What more do you want?
I think the best evidence of this is on http://ie.microsoft.com/testdrive/. Go on, download, and have a fiddle. You'll be impressed.
Nuff said. Let's get to the bit we all care about. CS-YES!
IE9 CSS Support
My source here is http://www.quirksmode.org/css/contents.html
Let's ganders and what it, like, don't do:
That's it. Wow.
For me, the 2 main ones are gradient and
text-shadow. I'm a little surprised
text-shadow didn't make it, but not so surprised gradient didn't.
Whether these will be available on actual release, or will become supported in updates, or - indeed - if these are IE10 considerations? I don't know. I did put the question out there on twitter, but unfortunately, I have the industry reach - twitterwise - comparable to that of an especially short dwarf with especially short and weak arms, so no response at present :)
I'll have a hunt around and perhaps ask these questions elsewhere to find out. If you're reading this and are in possession of such knowledge: please do tell. You know where the comments form is. You don't? It's just there. No, not there. Down the page. There. Silly.
OK. So the new stuff that is supported in IE9 (that wasn't supported in 8 and less):
- Multiple background images
So, to conclude
First thoughts are: "Whose a good browser, ay? You are! Yes, have a biscuit" (pats it on head).
You'll note that I haven't gone into HTML5 web apps / embedded content / audio / video / forms and the like. You might want to check out http://www.findmebyip.com/litmus for some ticks and crosses for IE9 in that regard.
I've already come across a few semi-negative posts in regard to IE9. In fact, there is this one that links directly from findmebyip, and from the link of "IE9 Beta Update" (I know, a bit mis-leading right?).
Don't get me wrong, I agree with many of the points of said article, but if we're going to discuss IE9, let's discuss IE9, and not regurgitate the old complaints of "oh what a mess we're in" we all know about and are, let's face it, bored of.
Let's just do our own little checklist on this and get them out the way so we can all move on and have some lunch. So:
- IE6's near-on 100% market-share has had a overall negative long-term effect on progress. Tick.
- Microsoft's old browser policies and strategies have caused a slow up-take on users upgrading to new browsing technologies. Tick.
- IE9 could possibly be even more advanced than it is in some areas. Tick.
Anyway. Save this turning into a rant: I hereby conclude that IE9 is a very decent browser and, as a designer and developer, I'm happy with the result. It's not going to immediately solve up-take on the web - and the issues related - but then I was never under the illusion that it was.
My hope is that progress is now as rapid and fluid as possible, so that it gets right up-to-speed, and relatively quickly. Then things will get really interesting.
Tell me things regarding the words above. And do it quick, before I change my mind ...