IE7 – Good, Bad, and Ugly

On the Web Standards Group mailing list today, Stephen Stagg posted his list of IE7 updates and downdates. I thought it was well put and wanted to share it.

More informative Error Pages.
As a general usability feature, I thoroughly approve of the more friendly error pages in IE7. That way, when your site’s server goes down, people won’t just be dumped with a nasty pile of technical text.
Transparent PNGs
This is a good one, I can’t wait to begin using transparent PNGs, tho I can see lots of usability issues arising from sites mis-using them.
Default Font Size
The IE7 default font size seems a very small, even for me (someone who likes his font sizes at about 70%). Perhaps this will be changed in the final release, but trying to read the Register in IE7 using the default size is pretty taxing.
Zoom function.
M$ seem to be trying to cater for everyone by including both font size and overall zoom controls. However their zoom feature doesn’t seem to be as well implemented as Opera’s one and I have noticed lots of odd effects appearing while zooming.
Invisible Menu-bar
I know it’s not a WSG issue but: I like what they’re doing with the menus. By default, the menu bar is hidden, freeing up screen-space for the tabbar. However, when you press a standard menu shorfut (Alt- f for example), the menu magically appears and then hides again when you’ve finished. (You can turn the menu-bar back on if you wish).
Tabbed Browsing
Well this one was just waiting to happen. I’m not someone who expects my tabs to do lots of wonderfull things so I’m just happy that they’re included in IE7.

Stephen Stagg

IE7 Updates

The Microsoft team is still hard at work, trying to fix assorted rendering bugs before launch. While they deserved to be criticized for the sad shape of IE6, their work on IE7 also deserves some kudos. Granted, it’s not as good as Firefox and Safari, but it’s getting much closer.

Add code snippets to your site with “Code Snippet” for WordPress

It’s time consuming to write a blog entry and format code snippets for WordPress and other blog programs. You’ve got to translate < elements into &lt; and either use pre tags combined with code tags, combined with blah, blah, blah. If I have a complicated snippet, ordered lists were used for easier reading and to keep the pre tags from breaking the layout.

Code Snippet

My friend Alex suggested I look at the Code Snippet plug-in for WordPress. It transforms anything inside a set of <code> tags into an easy to read and copy presentation.

The instructions on the site are a bit vague, there’s little mention of how to use the plugin. The truth is, you don’t have to do anything! Just download the plugin, upload it to your plugin directory, and activate it. Instantly, anything on your blog that was surrounded by code tags is formatted.

You can alter the appearance in the options panel. It even uses microfomatting logic: insert lang=”CSS” or the appropriate language and the plugin will color code your example.

It’s pretty darn slick. Now I need to go back and fix older posts that used ordered lists or had code tags inline. If you see a post that needs to be fixed, please take a moment and leave a comment. I’m trying to update this site’s content as effeciently as possible.

Using vertical-align for images and buttons

I’m working on a basic search form and the visual design requires a graphic button instead of the browser-generated input. I’m using the button tag instead of an input type=”submit”. While putting the page together, I had a nagging issue with the button not aligning with the label and input. I tried various combinations of margins, negative-margins, padding, and even floated the elements. All of these techniques eventually worked, but the were too klunky and I knew there had to be a better way.

I remembered the vertical-align:middle style while working on a footer paragraph that included inline links and RSS buttons. I tried it with the submit button and it also worked perfectly. I’ve tested this in FF 1.5 and IE6. I have not tested it in Safari yet.

Code Examples

CSS:

form#foo button {vertical-align:middle; border:none; padding:0; background:none; cursor:pointer; *cursor:hand; /*alternate cursor for IE*/}

HTML

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Resources

DHTML Utopia – book review


This is a difficult book to read for non-javascript programmers. If you are more comfortable with HTML and CSS, I’d recommend reading Jeremy Keith’s DOM Scripting first. Keith explains the theories behind this book.

That said, I did learn enough from DHTML Utopia to not look like a complete idiot during my job interview with Yahoo. This book is filled with project examples for you to follow along with. I will say that I tried several of the examples and had mixed results. I visited the book’s web site to get updated code.

If you’ve already worked with Javascript, this is a great book to have on the shelf. If you are a rookie, start with Jeremy Keith and follow up with DHTML Utopia.