Archive for March, 2009

Internet Explorer 8

Tibo BeijenFriday, March 20th, 2009

Yesterday Internet Explorer 8 is released. I consider that a good things as it will move more people farther away from the severe case of release abuse called IE6. Improvements include integrated developer tools for css analysis and script profiling and debugging.

And there is ‘Compatibility View’. Developers can specify, by adding a specific meta tag, that IE7 rendering should be used. There seem to be some tricky aspects related to Compatibility View:

  • It’s not 100% compatible with the ‘real’ IE7
  • For intranets IE8 will behave differently, using smart defaults based on zone evaluation. That by itself sounds alarming. What it means is that Microsoft (and sadly they’re right) assumes that a lot of intranets, also called line of business applications, will malfunction when confronted with a new browser.

The latter will be something to take into account when developing and testing intranets. Another concern I heard about (and share) is that if a lot of developers will start using Compatibility View, a lot of bad practices will stick around and development for IE as a whole will ‘freeze’. Instead of move forward to a more standards compliant level.

As IE6 isn’t dead yet there are now three IE versions to test for. Microsoft offers free downloadable virtual machines with IEx installed as a solution. Virtualization is ‘hot’ but some might find Microsoft’s solution a bit of a hassle. IETester looks like a nice alternative (haven’t tried it yet) altough it seems to require Vista.

Fronteers: Meeting march 10th

Tibo BeijenSunday, March 15th, 2009

At the PHPgg Frontend Special I first heard of Fronteers, an association of dutch front-end developers. Past tuesday they had a meeting at Media College in Amsterdam. As meetings are open for non(yet)-members it was a nice opportunity to get to know more about Fronteers. Two topics were scheduled: jQuery and SUAVE.


Until now I have mainly used the Prototype framework for Javascript projects. As the prototype library, escpecially when bundled with scriptaculous, is quite ‘big’ I was interested in hearing some more about the ‘lean and mean’ jQuery. In a short (but focussed) presentation of Edwin Martin some of the key aspects of jQuery were illustrated, most notably: Method chaining, Plugins (nice for keeping things organised) and Live events (curious about performance). The jQuery motto ‘do more, write less’ definitely stands although the functionality seems really focused on selecting, modifying and event-binding. I was missing Prototype’s class inheritance but as I read from the Fronteers meeting report that’s being worked in in the form of Classy Query.


Next was a presentation, delivered by Marcel Beumer and Vincent Hillenbrink, about Suave, a stand-alone front-end. It’s a MVC based framework that allows front-end developers to communicate with a ‘back-end’ that exists solely in the viewer’s browser. This way front-end developers can start creating templates and interaction and show working versions, without being dependent on properly functioning back-end software. In the background there is some XSLT databound templating going on thereby allowing for easy integration with back-end software once it’s ready. Suave isn’t finished yet so no online information is available. They aim at releasing a first version in about half a year, bundled with examples demonstrating it’s potential.

Of course there was plenty of time after the presentations to meet some people and chat with co-front-end-developers. Nice meeting!

Web Browser Zoom: Design consequences

Tibo BeijenSaturday, March 7th, 2009

Over the years the display size of the average computer screen has increased. As a consequence nowadays more and more websites are designed with a 1024 width screen in mind. For example: BBC, Adobe and The New York Times. With at least 78% of the users using a 1024 or higher resolution screen the time seems right to move away from the 800px designs. But what about accessibility? And usability? And is full page zooming really better than text scaling?