Mink Machine

IE7 has arrived

The day we’ve all been waiting and dreading for has arrived – final version of IE7 is now available for download. This is one of the biggest changes for web developers in several years. But thanks to all the hype surrounding IE7 for the last year, no one is really jumping off the wagon to download it. Now that it’s here, let’s have a look.

The final version of IE7 has improved since the CTP versions I tested earlier. Compared to IE6, it has RSS support, page zooming (compared to the text zoom in Firefox and Safari), Faster JScript engine and other stuff you come to expect of any modern browser. Another good thing are the add-ons. Try it at once, and use your creation to win a trip to MIX07 in Las Vegas.

Unfortunately, The user interface is a complete chaos compared to earlier versions, but we all knew that and will get used to it sooner or later. With a brand new UI for IE7 and Office, Microsoft has chosen a bold path. Even though I don’t fancy all of the improvements, I appreciate the giant effort put in by the development team.

One thing I don’t understand is why they decided to hide the menu. It becomes visible after pressing the Alt key, but come on – this is the browser that the majority of inexperienced users have, so the interface should be clear as crystal.

Also annoying is the sound. When installed, IE7 automatically turns on the Windows Explorer click sound. I wonder who hatched that brilliant idea?

But all this is just fluff. The big thing is the improved CSS support. We got the list several months ago and now it’s time to use it. The CSS support is still not up to the levels of Firefox, but compared to the horrors in IE6 (where you needed a dictionary to remember all hacks to make it work), it’s a big improvement. For instance, the infamous box model has been updated to adhere to the CSS2.1 specification. Also, since IE7 still supports quirks mode, the damage to old hacks will most likely not be as severe as previously feared.

Unfortunately, it’s not time to throw out the hacks just yet. We live in the real world, and the real world has clients with demands that require developers to sometimes sidestep the ideal coding style. If you feel the need, please use conditional comments to detect IE versions. You will have to have multiple style sheets, but hey, it could be worse.

Example of conditional comments:

<!–[if gt IE 6]> <link rel=”stylesheet” type=”text/css” href=”ie7.css”/> <![endif]–> <!–[if lte IE 6]> <link rel=”stylesheet” type=”text/css” href=”ie6.css”/> <![endif]–> <![if !IE]> <link rel=”stylesheet” type=”text/css” href=”coolbrowsers.css”/> <![endif]>

But remember that a lot of users will stay with IE6, even after IE7 gets pushed out by Windows Update (if you want to block it, use the Blocker Toolkit).

If you want to run IE6 and IE7 together, one way is to first install IE7 (this will overwrite the existing IE6) and then install a stand-alone version of IE6 from evolt.org.

However, this solution could lead to issues with conditional comments, since the stand-alone version thinks it is IE7. Another way is to install IE6 on a virtual server, or read more at Position is everything

That’s all folks. Drive safely.

Update:The IE team has released a virtual image with XP SP2 and IE6, simplifying the process.

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Reine

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Reine is a web developer who enjoys caffeine-fueled urban traveling. More...

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