Over on IEblog, Markus Mielke has a great IE7 post with screenshots of a CSS Zen Garden-inspired layout showing off fixed positioning, PNG alpha channels, arbitrary-element hover, and so much more. There are those who have called for its inclusion into the Zen Garden, but as Dave points out, it would break in IE6 and so couldn’t qualify as an official design. Oh, the irony.
Getting back to Markus’ post, he has this to say near the end:
…we are now layout complete with the release of the MIX build – we don’t plan to add more layout features or drastically change layout behavior. This gives web developers a chance to test and prepare your pages for Vista Beta2 and the final release of IE7. There are still bugs and missing features (display tables, generated content to name a few) we would have liked to do for IE7 but based on your requests to have some lead time to test your pages we need to lock it down now to be able to ship IE7.
So there you go: no more CSS functionality will be added to IE7. Anything that isn’t there, like CSS table properties and the like, will have to wait for a future version. As has been publicly stated, though, we won’t have to wait five years for the next version. There’s no solid guarantee of how long or short a wait there will be, but Bill Gates himself said that new versions would come out more frequently. The IE team reiterated this.
So will current bugs in IE7’s CSS handling be fixed? I give that a solid “maybe”. Markus has left the door partway open by saying that there are no plans to make drastic changes to layout behavior. That could mean that if a bug fix only causes minor changes, then it might get in. On the other hand, it could mean that unless existing behavior causes massive problems (or crashes), no bug fixes will be taken until after IE7. Personally, I wouldn’t count on it, but I’ve been wrong before.
Then, in the same post, Markus drops an entirely new bombshell:
The good news is that we are in the progress of building up a public bug database where you can submit your issues, track their progress and see when we internally fix an issue – Al is going to post about this soon. Your participation will help us greatly to improve IE and also help us to prioritize what bugs to fix for the next releases.
Sweet fancy Moses—a Bugzilla for IE? There was no mention of this within my earshot at Mix 06, so I’m as surprised as anyone else. Did I fall down a rabbit hole and quaff a bottle labeled “DRINK ME”? If this is a dream, I don’t ever want to wake up.
The Redmond-haters will claim that this is just a lot of catch-up, played years late, and amounts to little more than aping what Mozilla and other browser makers have been doing—better standards support, a tabbed interface, open bug databases, and so on. It happens that they’re right, but what’s wrong with that? The IE team has looked over what happened while they were in hibernation and is emulating the best of it. That’s not lame, that’s smart. And it should have other browser makers a little bit worried. A lot of their success has been due to Microsoft’s complacency. They’re going to have to be a lot sharper and more nimble now that the 800 pound gorilla is actually awake and paying attention to its surroundings.
No, I don’t think IE will wipe everyone else off the map, but I do think the browser space is getting a lot more interesting. What makes it particularly interesting is that the competition is not going to be over who can add the coolest non-standard geegaws, but who can deliver the best product based on the same standards as everyone else.
I’ve wondered what that would be like ever since I got seriously into standards back in mid-1996. I almost can’t believe that there’s a chance I’ll get to find out.