Microsoft is really pushing for people to make sure their websites and apps are compatible with IE7. Apparently this is a real concern for a lot of people who relied on certain proprietary features, bugs, and quirks in IE6. I guess they figured they wouldn’t have to worry about future versions. (Hmm… I wonder where they got that idea?)

The fact of the matter is, I’m not worried. I tested my personal sites and the sites I’d built for work months ago, using the IE7 betas, and more recently with RC1. I made a couple of minor changes to some stylesheets, but that was about it.

Why? I’ve been writing standards-based code for years. I validate it from time to time, and I test to make sure it works in the latest versions of Firefox, Opera and Safari as well as IE. So the code was already portable.

Plus, anything new I’ve built since January has been designed with IE7 in mind from the beginning.

Most of the changes were to workarounds for IE6. Either stopping them from running on IE7 (if the bug was fixed), or keeping them running on IE7 (if it was done using a CSS hack).

The big news in web browsers this week is the formation of the Mozilla Corporation, a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Mozilla Foundation. So far it looks mainly like an accounting change so that they can work more easily with businesses that aren’t quite sure how to deal with non-profit partner. Firefox, Thunderbird, etc. will of course remain free and open-source. I’m optimistic about the change—being a for-profit company doesn’t seem to have hurt Opera much.

Speaking of Opera, they’re close to passing Acid2 in-house. They seem likely to be the next browser to pass (after Safari, iCab, and Konqueror). The next question is: Who will be the first to release a final version that passes the test? Safari and Konqueror still only pass on the development branches, and iCab’s still in beta.

I’d never bothered with the outline property in CSS before, mainly because I could never see what made it different from border. OK, it doesn’t affect the object’s size or position, but you can account for that when designing a page. And I could see it might be useful if you wanted to have a two-layer border around an object, since the outline starts just outside the border.

Well, Firefox is nearing 1.1 alpha, and among the new features is real support for outline. I figured I’d set up a test page and see what happened.

I set up two classes, one which applied an outline and one which applied a border, and just tried them on different objects. <p> only looked different in positioning (since border is just inside the edge, and outline is just outside), but <span> illustrated the difference clearly:

Screenshot of outline and border.

The first paragraph has some text with an outline. The second has text with a border. In both cases, the text wraps at the edge of the window, but while the border breaks and picks up again on the next line—as if the span had simply been chopped into pieces—the outline completely encloses each section on its own. This fits with its intended purpose, which is “to make [elements] stand out.”

Opera and Konqueror (and presumably Safari) seem to handle outline already, and display my test page the same way as Firefox 1.1.

I installed the just-released Netscape 8 Beta. It imported most of my settings from Firefox, including bookmarks, cookies and even history. One of the first things I always check with a new browser is how it identifies itself, which in this case is as Firefox 0.9.6. (Presumably they’ll get on this by the time the final version is out.)

First impressions: importing was clean and worked well. UI is a bit freaky, as things are spread all over the place—like the main menu, which is in the upper right and in line with the title bar instead of where the menus are on every other Windows application. The multiple toolbars seem confusing at first (it took a while to dig up my bookmark bar, for instance). Then I looked at the site trust/rendering choices, the big exciting feature of this release. And I’m not impressed. Or rather I am, but not favorably.

The current tab shows a shield icon indicating the trust level of the site: Green if it’s been verified by a “Netscape Security Partner,” yellow if not, and I would presume red if it’s a known phishing/virus/etc. site. There’s also an icon indicating the trust level: a check mark if it’s trusted, an ellipsis for “not sure” and an exclamation point for not trusted. Unverified sites are, by default, in the “not sure” category. So far this makes sense.

Clicking on the shield icon opens a site controls dialog box enabling you to choose to what extent you trust the website, and below that, whether to display the site using the Mozilla Netscape or Internet Explorer engine: Continue reading

AKA stuff I wanted to write about earlier this week but need to just slam out while they’re still topical.

  • Judge slams SCO’s lack of evidence against IBM. Also Groklaw’s take. After all the wild claims they’ve made without providing evidence, it’s nice to see even the judge is getting sick of it.
  • Coke may try out coffee cola – Yeah, it’s a month old, but it’s news to me. (Incidentally, I hate CNN’s practice of deleting stories from their website. That’s where I read about this earlier this week, and I had to go hunting for an article that was still up.) [Note: I’ve had to track down a third copy of the article.]
  • shuns DRM – former founder starts a new legal download service, and sticks with unencumbered MP3s instead of messing around with ultimately-flawed digital rights management. I’m reminded of Cory Doctorow’s famous talk on why DRM is bad for everyone.
  • Beware the unexpected attack vector – Your enemy may not come at you from the direction you expect. Set up sentries around the beach, they’ll get you through the ocean. Set up a firewall, they’ll get you through web browsers. It’s mainly about computer/network security, but it has an interesting story explaining why there’s only one major newspaper in Los Angeles.
  • CSS Zen Garden parody: Geocities 1996 – I’ve been meaning to post a link to this for over a month. It’s fully valid code, and manages to bring back the worst of 1990s web design.