With the release of IE8 Beta 1, I'm pleased to be able to talk about the first round of improved standards compliance and bug fixes in IE's HTML and DOM support for the new IE8 standards mode. Doug hinted at some of these improvements, and I wrote a little bit about them in the IE8 Beta 1 whitepapers here and here. In this post, I'd like to enumerate the 'change list' (of sorts) here on the blog in response to requests for such a list that I received at MIX08. Personally, I've been long-awaiting this release because of what I know it means to web developers (like myself) that have had to code around a lot of IE's DOM quirks for many years.
For IE8, I have really focused on the HTML and DOM Core standards and concentrated on building a solid cross-browser compatible foundation for many of the APIs that are already supported by Trident. This effort to fix some of the cracks in IE's foundation has been a long time in coming, and I believe it's a critical and necessary first step before adding on additional standards support.
For IE8 Beta1, we looked at many community-provided bug reports and found that the top pain-points were related to IE's attribute handling (with a few prominent exceptions like getElementById). Therefore, attribute-handling has served as the 'theme' for the set of issues to tackle in IE8. We probably won't be able to fix all of the community-reported bugs in the DOM in this release (there are many), but we want to make sure that we get to the worst offenders first. Help us out by submitting or voting on the bugs that you feel are most impactful to your business.
Note: I use HTML5 nomenclature for DOM attribute/content attribute.
Within the scope of attribute-related fixes, the following address some of the well-known, oft-cited, compliance issues in IE's HTML and DOM support.
Many reported (and some not-reported) issues with IE's attribute handling involve the NamedNodeMap interface object (object.attributes), correct DOM attribute reflection of content attributes, and case-sensitivity. In principle, the standards indicate that HTML documents are case-insensitive, while DOM Core-related APIs are case-sensing--they depend on the underlying document rules to determine their sensitivity. To resolve ambiguities, I appealed to the most common behavior of other browsers.
At a minimum, all previously available functionality in the DOM will be restored in Beta 2.
I'd like to acknowledge the amazing work done by all the IE developers and testers that make it possible to push a button and get IE7 compatible behavior for each of these significant changes.
Also, special thanks to PPK for updating his compatibility tables to showcase some of the work that we've done.
And there's more to come.
Travis Leithead Program Manager IE8 Object Model