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INTERNET EXPLORER 8 ( iE8) Review

I've been playing with IE8 beta 1, and I've got some thoughts ...

In terms of user visible HTML rendering features, I think IE 8 beta 1 is possibly the biggest release of IE in nearly 11 years since April 1997 when IE 4.0 alpha 1 was released. The history shows mostly bug fixes, and chrome changes since then. Maybe transparent PNG or Bidi text are bigger than Activities? It looks like that's going to be the feature that most people talk about, so I'm going to talk about some of the other stuff. There are 3 big things I'm interested in, and a few smaller features:

6 Connection Limit
I've been testing the new 6 connection limit. It works perfectly in my testing, Without any cookie or window.name hacks, DWR can do reverse ajax using comet to more than 2 browser windows:


DOM Storage
IE is way behind everyone else in implementing HTML5 features. So this is catching up to everyone else. It will be interesting to hear from the Dojo guys on this.

// sessionStorage also available
var store = window.globalStorage["http://www.example.com"];
store.setItem("key", "value");
var value = storage.getItem("key"); // == "value"
store.removeItem("key");
JavaScript Debugger
Firebug has been a stick that's been used to beat up IE for a while, and they've got an answer now. Unlike the other features, there isn't a screenshot in the release notes...


Firebug is still much better, in my opinion so far. But this is certainly a huge step forward compared to fighting with Script [Editor|Debugger] or Visual WebDev.

Acid 3


IE 8 does very badly on Acid 3 (17/100). However given that it's so new it's probably not fair to ding it too much. However it does need to improve big time:

WebKit Nightly: 87%
Opera 9.5b: 64%
Firefox 3.0b3: 61%
IE 8b1: 17%
For comparison, the released versions:

Firefox 2.0.0.12: 50%
Opera 9.26: 46%
Safari 3.0.4: 39%
IE 7: 11%
Given that they are innovating, I'm prepared to give them time to get the number up.

URL Bar Goodness
I didn't see this in the release notes anywhere. On Firefox I've got an add-on called LocationBar 2 that does some nice widgetry with the URL Bar:


Well it looks like IE8 has something similar built in too:


Cross-Domain XHR
The standards are still evolving on this one, but somewhat annoyingly IE8 seems to be going in a different direction from everyone else:

var xdr = new XDomainRequest();
xdr.open("POST", "http://www.example.com/xdr.txt");
xdr.send("Data for post body");
What is missing?
Lots. Still. No SVG/Canvas. No updates to the JScript implementation at a language level (it looks like there have been some performance increases though).

Let's not forget that Microsoft have more resources to get this right than almost anyone. If Opera can manage to create a first class browser, so should Microsoft.

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