Monday, March 10, 2008

Internet Explorer 8: My Top 10 list

IE8 has a bunch of really nice features. I read a few reviews (here and here) and made my ‘Top 10’ list, read on …

  1. AJAX Back Navigation enables users to navigate back and forth without leaving the AJAX application and could be used navigating a page without performing a traditional full navigation. This allows websites to trigger an update to browser components like the address bar by setting the window.location.hash value, firing an event to alert components in the page and even creating an entry in the travel log.
  2. DOM Storage is a simple-to-use method for storing and retrieving strings of key/value pair data. Data can be stored per tab instance for a session or persisted to the local machine. This allows pages to cache text on the machine which reduces the effect of network latencies by providing faster access to pre-cached data. Several innovative uses are possible. For example, use this in combination with the new network connectivity event to allow a page to cache data if it detects that the computer is offline.
  3. Six connections per host instead of two for broadband scenarios and a scriptable property allow for more improved performance by allowing parallelization of downloads in Internet Explorer 8. In addition, this increases functionality by ensuring a request is not blocked to a host if two connections already exist. Websites can optimize their downloads based on a scriptable property.
  4. WebSlices - WebSlices is a new feature for websites to connect to their users by subscribing to content directly within a webpage. WebSlices behave just like feeds where clients can subscribe to get updates and notify the user of changes. A WebSlice is a portion within a webpage that is treated like a subscribe-able item, just like a feed. To enable a WebSlice on your website, annotate your webpage with class names for the title, description, and other subscribe-able properties.
  5. Offline Events - This is an easy way of detecting connectivity within the confines of JavaScript. With it we can write graceful offline Ajax applications. Firefox 3 and IE 8 appear to be the only browsers to support this feature.
  6. Cross-domain Request (XDR) - XDomainRequest, is the easiest way to make anonymous requests to third-party sites that support XDR and opt in to making their data available across domains.
  7. Cross-document Messaging (XDM) APIs allow communication between documents from different domains through IFrames in a way that is easy, secure and standardized.
  8. Facebook Integration: Microsoft capitalized on their partnership with the popular social networking site, Facebook, to allow IE8 users the ability to get status updates from Facebook right from their browser toolbar.
  9. eBay Integration: Like Facebook, this feature also uses IE8's new technology, called "WebSlices", which introduces a new way to get updates from other sites via the browser itself, without having to visit the web site.
  10. Firebug for Internet Explorer - We finally have a heavily-Firebug-inspired tool inside Internet Explorer. To quote Joe Hewitt (creator of Firebug): "I couldn't be happier that Microsoft completely copied Firebug for IE8." I have to agree - a tool like this has been a long time coming and it's greatly appreciated. Only the Internet Explorer team would've ever been the ones to build this tool - there's simply too much information here that's unavailable to typical IE extensions.
  11. Browser mode toggling - At first glance this feature makes the most sense for seeing if your IE 7 page will work ok in IE 8. In actuality, however, this will end up being very useful for developing a standards-compliant page (in IE 8, FF, Safari, Opera) and then toggling to see what the result is like in IE 7. This is so much better than the IE 6 to IE 7 jump where you have to keep your browser in a virtual machine in order for it to run side-by-side (according to Microsoft, at least - even though there were standalone solutions).

Read more at the Microsoft IE8 readiness site.

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Blogger Adam Nofsinger said...

I like some of the features you describe as well, but I have some bones to pick.

First, the IE Developer Tools are NOT Firebug for IE. It is nowhere near as useful or featureful as Firebug. In fact, I think it is missing a lot of functionality that was present in the old IE6/IE7 developer toolbar (you can't even change the CSS dynamically anymore? what?). It does have javascript debugging I am glad to see.

2:45 AM  
Blogger Adam Nofsinger said...

(oops, posted too soon!)

Second, so far your point made in point 11 has not held true for me. I develop nice, standards-compliant pages which look good in FF, Safari, and Opera -- AND in IE7 with just a slight amount of tweaking and conditional comments for IE7. Then I look at these pages in IE8 and there are serious issues. :-(

It is still Beta 1, and they claim it is still a long time coming to release, so I shall be very glad if things work out like you say in point 11. :-)

2:53 AM  
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11:02 AM  

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