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Web Standards Project to Help Prioritize Fixes in Next Version of IE

The Web Standards Project has been given the opportunity to help prioritize the next set of changes to be implemented in what they’re calling IE.next, the next refresh of Microsoft Internet Explorer. Given that a flurry of posts here over the last few days all had to do with the browser space, I felt it appropriate and fair to link and comment.

Over on their blog, they’ve posted an article calling for suggestions, specifically in the next set of DOM and JavaScript changes to be introduced into the browser. They’ve created a closed Wiki which will help track specific issues to be addressed.

I was immediately annoyed by some of the responses on the blog, as people were going on about CSS and XHTML compliance, when the specific request was actually in the area of JavaScript and DOM support. Come on and read, people. That’s not to say they won’t be working on those issues, but I’ll wager those issues are a tad bit more well known. The noise doesn’t help anyone.

Significance for IE.next

This call for help prioritizing is significant for a number of reasons. First, it’s their latest call to the industry for help, which shows again, that they’re trying to listen. The problem is, with such bad responses, WaSP has to do things like set up a closed wiki to help filter out all the garbage.

Hey guess what else? It means there will be in fact, continued work on the browser and there will be an IE.next, whatever that is.

It’s another good sign, like the presence of the IEBlog which shows an added effort by the IE team to get in touch with their varying audiences. As per usual, the problem becomes clouded by so many people just ranting on the lack of support for this, that, and the other thing. They could have a full time dedicated team out there just help filter out the complaints from the actual problems.

They honestly came a long way with IE7, with many enhancements, and it’s to be congratulated. They work on a product team with unprecedented levels of corporate pressure and cross-product levels of influence and compatibility required at all times. They were under pressure I’m sure to have a final browser in time for Vista, and they actually beat that release, despite originally targeting the same window. Whether they should have a browser so integrated is another discussion altogether and not the point.

Am I defending the product? No. I loath having to get things working in multiple browsers, and IE has proven to be a huge challenge. That’s why we do it — no one else will and guess what it pays the mortgage.

They rested on their laurels and did nothing for years, which is the perfect demonstration of monopolistic practices at their worst. But the guys building the browser over at Microsoft don’t make these decisions, and until the team was reconstituted, they had little choice in the matter. At the Ajax Experience in Boston which I had the pleasure of attending, Chris Wilson spoke and proved himself to be pragmatic, humorous, conscientious, dedicated to their product — at one point as he was walking through the history of IE and played a sound bite of crickets for the interim period where little was being done. He’s the first to tell you he’s done good and bad, being responsible for introducing overlapping tag support (tag soup?), and he also coded in IE3’s first, and at the time pioneering support for CSS! They know these things and they’re working on them, which is evidenced by their asking for help. Do you think he calls his blog “Albatross” for some reason? I don’t think he’s talking about the bird.

There’s also more evidence the team is serious — if you’re watching, Chris Wilson has shown up as member of the Web Standards Projects Microsoft Task Force, which if you doubt the Web Standards Project’s sincerity in trying to fix these things, then you’re beyond help. That team also has members the likes of Molly Holzschlag (also, Molly.com), Tantek Celik (also, Tantek.com), Dean Edwards and Aaron Gustafson.

At the Ajax Experience conference two weeks ago, I can honestly say I saw Molly, Chris, and Aaron spending a lot of time talking, so the lines of communication are open. We need to help filter out the noise, and not make more, so their job is even harder.

Timeframe for the IE Release

Who knows when the next release of this browser, that’s come to be the whipping boy of Web designers everywhere, will be. But they’re showing their efforts, and the recent announcement of Chris Wilson changing his role to be, in his words, design of the IE web developer platform as the lead platform architect can only be a good thing. He’s going to be our advocate if I read it right.

Head over to the Web Standards Project and post something of value.

The first thing to pop into my mind was proper DOM 2 Events support, which someone already posted about.

Nov 6, 12:03 PM in Web Development (filed under Browsers, Web-Standards)

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