IE7 Printing: An Experience You Won’t Want To Miss

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IE7 Printing: An Experience You Won’t Want To Miss

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In my previous post, I gave a glimpse of what to come in IE7 and printing. Now that the Beta 2 Preview build is publicly available I like to walk you through all the additions we added to printing and print preview. Internal studies showed that printing is the second most used feature after navigation in a browser and traditionally has not seen the respect it deserves.

To address this IE7 focuses around 3 experiences:

  • Having a great default print experience
  • Intuitive UI, putting you in control
  • Letting you select the content you are interested in and preview it for adjustments

Having a great default experience

Most users just want to quickly put the content of the screen on paper for bookkeeping or use away from the computer. The key here is that all content on the screen is available to the user and that annoying extra white-space is avoided. No one likes to get extra pages with just one or two lines of content on an otherwise completely blank page of paper. IE 7 solves these problems by introducing: Shrink to fit and Orphan Control to minimize white-space. More details can be found here).

Intuitive UI

When opening print preview you will notice a cleanup of the UI. The goal was to target it more like a Windows dialog with the “action” controls (print and close) in the lower right corner. We also separated out the page control keys (next, previous, first page, last page etc.) in the lower left corner. This allows us to keep the “adjustment” keys that allow the user to modify the output of the content in the more dominant top toolbar.

The first difference you will notice when you open print preview is that you automatically see the whole first page of your print content (it adapts to whatever screen size you are using). No scrolling is necessary to verify that your content fits on the paper.

Adaptable Content

If you want to see the page with full detail we allow you to do that with the View full width button. We also enable you to switch back to a Full page view.

Put you control

If you belong to the group of users that are not satisfied with the “fire and forget” approach but like to tinker until the content fits exactly the way you want it on paper, IE7 puts you in the driver’s seat. You now get much easier access to modify the content and how it fits on paper:

  • Easily toggle page orientation between Portrait and Landscape
  • Turn Header/Footer on/off
  • Show Multiple pages (up to 12 pages can be previewed)
  • Change Print Scale (default is shrink to fit so you do not lose any content)
  • Provide custom scaling of the page. Here we let you pick a scaling rate from 30% to 999% to get the maximum out of your paper.
  • Live Margin sliders. This feature lets you directly adjust the margins on the page using a slider and you can see the result as you do it! This is a great way to reclaim space on the paper to get the maximum amount of content on a page.

Live Margins

Live Margins in action. Once the user lets go of the slider, the page will reflow to the new margins

Print Preview of Selected Content

Last but not least, there are times when you are only interested in parts of the content of the Web page (why print images when I am only interested in the text of an article?). IE6 already allowed printing of selected text of a web page, but it was pretty hard to discover. You had to select content you want to print and right click on your mouse. There you select the print menu item. Once at the print dialog you had to select the “print selected” menu item before you would get only the selected content fed to the printer. In IE7 we have streamlined the process: Select the content you want to print, right click and select the print menu item. Off it goes to the printer dialog and, guess what, the Print Selected option is already selected for you. You can print and be done.

We’ve added another significant improvement to printing selected content in IE7: you can see just the selection in print preview and make the adjustments described above to only this content. This is very easy to do: select the content you want to print and click on the print preview menu item (either on the toolbar or in the right click menu). The Print preview window will open and automatically start with the selected content. You can also switch back to full content in case you selected something by accident.

We hope you’ll share our excitement about the new printing capabilities offered by IE7. You can now choose your personal printing style and get the maximum out of IE7 targeted just for you.

Please let us know what you think and what you’d like to see in the future.

 - Markus Mielke and Adrian Bateman

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