With the release of IE8 Beta 2 you are likely to start getting more questions and more (power) end users trying this release out. In this post I’ll point out some of the new features of IE8 and then give you the most important pointers for compatibility and development.
IE8 Beta 2 Download link. IE Blog with the upgrade information on beta 2.
First things first, before checking out the new features of the browser it’s important that your visitors have a good experience browsing your site. Check out my previous post on IE8 compatibility for starters, and in addition to that there is extra information hereunder.
With Beta 2 there is an update to the compatibility settings, here is an overview of the available choices. You can set your compatibility using the header “X-UA-Compatible”, either in the web server as a HTTP header or on the page as a meta tag.
Also important to note is that your META tag in the page will override the compatibility HTTP header if this one is also used.
Using DOCTYPE for compatibility Another way of setting the desired layout of your site is using the DOCTYPE. However, setting the above mentioned X-UA-Compatible META tag will override any DOCTYPE setting.
To call up the Developer Tools window, press F12 or click the icon.
For example, I can trace CSS styles:
Using the Layout tool I can visually see the distance between the selected object and the parent, the padding, border and margins.
IE8 introduces a lot of new features in different domains, be it in standards support, CSS 2.1 (and some CSS3), privacy, security, performance improvements in JScript, W3C HTML5 local store, etc. I’m pointing out a few of them:
Web Slices allow a user to subscribe to a specific section of a page. For example there is one I like to use which shows me the updated statuses of my Facebook friends.
Developing Web Slices: web slices are implemented using some specific CSS classes that do nothing in other browsers. You can now even have controls inside the WebSlice like Silverlight or Flash. To see some samples, check out a lab on MSDN code gallery: http://code.msdn.microsoft.com/ieteched08labs/Release/ProjectReleases.aspx?ReleaseId=1187
Just that you know, these were called Activities in IE8 beta 1 and have now been renamed to Accelerators. Accelerators are great for enabling users to execute an a certain action right from out on the page. For example, translating a sentence, mapping an address, blogging a quote, all from a contextual menu that is displayed when you select some text or a link. They’re implemented using the OpenService Format.
Non-administrator ActiveX installation This might be of most interest at enterprise level, IE8 lets you install ActiveX controls without Administator privileges, on a per-user basis. IE8 also lets the user allow specific ActiveX controls to be enabled only on individual sites, preventing that a control would run on any other than the chosen site.
Mutable DOM prototypes This is a great feature that allows you to rewrite any DOM method so that for example a certain built-in method returns the same result as in another browser. This is something I was looking for since some time!
So now, go out and install IE8 Beta 2 (I know you’ve been waiting for it), test your site, add compat if needed and then start using all the new goodies.
After the famous “10 minutes with your RD” by Regional Director Gregory Renard, I decided to get started with my own short screencast series on Chopsticks as well. I’m naming these “10 minutes with your DE”.
My first screencast is now online, I ended up with more than 10 minutes, 13:40 to be exact… bear with me for my first cast, I’ll try keeping to the timing better as I evolve with my screen recording abilities :)
10 minutes with your DE - # 1: Data Access Technologies with .NET Framework 3.5 SP1
With the Service Pack 1 release for Visual Studio 2008 and the .NET Framework 3.5, new data access technologies are available to us. In this screencast I talk about ADO.NET, ADO.NET Entity Framework, ADO.NET Data Services and more.
Update: You can download the PowerPoint presentation here:
Being a developer using Expression Blend 2 (or 2.5 Preview) for implementing basic design of Silverlight or WPF applications, I’ve collected a list of my favorite shortcuts and tips to using the interface. At first it’s a whole new interface you need to get used. These are my personal most used shortcuts.
Ctrl + mouse wheel - Zooming in and out and the interface zoom level The quickest way to zoom in and out in the design view is by pressing the CTRL key and using the mouse wheel to zoom in and out. You can also use the zoom pane at the bottom left of the central pane.
F6 - Switch between Design and Animation workspace In other words, switch between the normal workspace in which the interaction and timeline editing is shown on the left, and the timeline view at the bottom. All you need to do is press F6 to switch between the views.
F4 - View artboard only (remove left and right panels) If you need more space to work on the artboard area (central area), you can use F4 to make the work panels disappear. Notice that the Properties window’s elements are still available as fly-out menus in the right:
Ctrl + 0 – Fit to screen Zooms the control to fit to screen (work area, depending on what space is available).
Ctrl + 1 - Actual size Zooms the control to its actual size.
Set design-time width and height In case you want your Silverlight control to automatically adjust to the screen size you need to set Width and Height to Auto. However, for working in Blend it is easier if you can set a “working” width and height. You can do this by dragging the design-time height icons: Design-time width and height only have effect in Blend. Note the XAML that is used for this:
<UserControl ... xmlns:d="http://schemas.microsoft.com/expression/blend/2008" mc:Ignorable="d" d:DesignWidth="292.261" d:DesignHeight="362.262">...
Do you have more shortcuts or tips for the Blend interface? Leave me a comment and maybe I can do a follow-up post with all the tips from the community.
Note: design “SpaceCute” copyright LostGarden.com, by Dan Cook.
I’m just soooo lucky: getting to be there at PDC AND also TechEd EMEA seems too good to be true. I just thank my manager :) We’re going to PDC with some people from the community and some customers, I’m the one from DPE Belgium who gets to go with them! And then TechEd is also quite important for me as it is the biggest European Microsoft conference. We have quite a lot of Belgians going. It’s a great opportunity to meet with your peers from all over the continent.
So, for the majority that needs to choose either TechEd or PDC, what do you do?
PDC is Microsoft’s big conference for major announcements and releases. It’s the only conference where Microsoft gives you a long term view of the future of the development platform.
Last one dates back to 2005, last year the conference was cancelled. The fact that it is taking place later this year in October does mean something: you can expect lots of new around Microsoft’s technology platform for the future.
Just a selection of topics and sessions that have been announced:
Also worth mentioning is the opening keynote with Ray Ozzie. I had the chance to see Ray Ozzie doing a keynote earlier in July and it was very inspirational. I’m looking forward to this public one.
Win your ticket: check out the t-shirt design contest for a chance to win your free entry to PDC. hurry because the contest entries must be submitted by August 26 2008.
TechEd EMEA is the developer conference organized every year by Microsoft. Note that there is also a conference focused on IT Professionals the week before: TechEd EMEA IT Pros 2008.
This year’s conference has more than 300 sessions divided over 15 tracks, from Architecture, Developer Tools and Languages, Office Development, , Web and User Experience, Windows Embedded, to Windows Mobile. Compared to PDC, TechEd is a conference that is geared more towards already released products and technologies, giving you guidance and training on how to use these technologies.
In addition to the breakout and interactive sessions there is also an opportunity to meet the Microsoft Community: MVPs, Regional Directors, User Groups, meet them at the Microsoft Community Lounge. And not to forget the chance to ask all your hard questions in the Ask The Experts booths.
If you choose to go to TechEd and are hoping for some PDC content you will be happy to see there is a special track “PDC Highlights”.
As has just been announced on several MSDN and product teams blogs, Service Pack 1 for .NET Framework 3.5 and for Visual Studio 2008 have been released.
SP1 is available for Visual Studio 2008, this download includes the .NET Framework 3.5 SP1 as well. Here are the downloads:
Make sure you uninstall the Beta version for SP1 in case you have installed it previsouly.
What is new with this Service Pack?
There are several enhancements, for a full list please see the following blog posts:
Note on Silverlight 2 Beta 2 Tools
You will need to update your installation of the Silverlight 2 Beta 2 Tools for Visual Studio after installing SP1.
Last week the p&p group released v1 of the guidance documentation “Improving Web Services Security: Scenarios and Implementation Guidance for WCF”.
WCF is quite a complex subject and more guidance on how to securely implement serices is very important for developers. This guidance now tackles this subject; the documentation contains 15 chapters divided into four sections:
Part I, "Security Fundamentals for Web Services" Part II, "Fundamentals of WCF Security" Part III, "Intranet Application Scenarios" Part IV, "Internet Application Scenarios"
In addition to the information packed guide there are also 24 How-To’s ranging from “How To - Create and Install Temporary Certificates in WCF for Transport Security During Development” to “How To - Use Username Authentication with Transport Security in WCF from Windows Forms”.
It’s a 600+ page document but don’t let that hold you from reviewing the parts relating to your next WCF service implementations.
IE8 Beta 1 has been out for several months now and we are closing in on the release of IE8 Beta 2, which has been announced for August 2008 by the IE team. Now is a good time to get started on ensuring site compatibility with this new release.
Because IE8 will default to standards mode for displaying HTML pages, it is possible your site will not display as it is currently doing in IE7. How can you prevent problems and what do you need to do? Let’s review the different solutions going from an absolute minimum effort to major changes in the HTML.
This post is intended to give you a quick overview of the solutions and pointers to more detailed white papers (find these at the bottom of the post).
Why is compatibility so important? IE8 will offer 3 different ways of rendering content:
As IE8 is planned to have full support for the CSS 2.1 standard and implement some CSS3 functionalities, the “Standards” mode is now the default rendering mode. But as many HTML developers have worked around some differences in HTML rendering in IE7 and before, this means your site may no longer display as desired in IE8.
First of all you should test your site against the latest IE8 beta, to make sure there are any problems present. If you already have a site that follows standards closely and used conditional statement for example, you may not have to do any changes at all.
However, in case your site is optimized for IE7, the solutions below explain what you may do to make sure the site still displays nicely in IE8.
This is a low effort solution if you have administrative rights to the web server(s) on which your site is running. Add an HTTP header on the server:
Solution 2: Add a meta tag per page (effort: medium)
Add a HTTP-EQUIV meta tag after the <head> tag on the page:
<meta http-equiv="X-UA-Compatible" content="IE=EmulateIE7" />
Solution 3: Adapting the HTML code to be standards compliant (effort: low to high depending on implementation)
If you are making your website HTML code compliant with CSS 2.1 you might need to have changes done in the HTML. This effort however depends mostly on which workarounds or non-standards features have been implemented.
You can also add conditional statements to keep serving non-standards CSS or content to previous browser versions.
If you want to explicitly set that the site is IE8 standards compliant you can use the following tag:
<meta http-equiv="X-UA-Compatible" content="IE=8" />
Or you can choose to add a standards mode DOCTYPE.
Beta 2, coming out in August 2008 will most probably be downloaded by a lot more end (power) users than the previous beta 1. You certainly don’t want your visitors to experience any hick-ups while visiting your site through IE8, so that’s why now is a very good time to start working on a solution.
Hans Le Roy’s blog in Dutch: if you are looking for information on IE8 in Dutch this is a very good resource. Hans is a Belgian MVP on IE and has posted over 30 posts on IE8 alone.
IE Team Blog on MSDN This is the major resource for all news around IE8. The team posts very frequently on supported features.
IE8 whitepapers This page on MSDN code gallery contains really good white papers on the different elements that are new in IE8. Going from solutions like the one discussed above to managing Add-Ons, performance improvements, CSS 2.1 compliance and much more. A fantastic reference.
CSS Compatbility and Internet Explorer This document provides tables with CSS compliance indication starting from browser version IE 5.0 to IE8. A good reference to keep close by. This allows you to easily check if a certain feature of CSS 2.1 or CSS3 is supported, and in which version.
I’m writing this as I’m flying home from Seattle to Brussels via Amsterdam. Feeling a bit cramped here as the person in front of me just put het seat back. But well, that’s with flights right. I have just enough space to open up my laptop and see the whole of my screen. Open up Live Writer and preparing my post-TechReady post (that does sound funny :-). I can hit Publish button as soon as we land.
I’m returning home after attending Microsoft’s biggest internal technical conference in Seattle. Having joined last year I now got the chance to attend this 5 day, 800+ sessions event with topics for every techie’s need. It’s called TechReady, this is the 7th edition so we tend to call it TechReady7 or abbreviate to TR7.
Although I’ve been to TechEd events before but this event does feel different, we are all part of the company and because it is held close to campus in Redmond we have the chance to see a lot more of the guys (and some girls) of the product teams. Since this is also an internal event the type of information that we get is looking ahead to the coming months, and did we get to see some very nice stuff! I wish I could write about some of it. PDC will be the time when much of it is announced publicly.
Topics and sessions Without mentioning any details of future releases, I can however divulge the type of sessions I went to. We got to see and learn about the trend the company is taking is regards to software development. To give you an idea, some of the topics are these:
And not to forget a totally crazy session named Mobility Smackdown; If you want to get an idea of the excitement around this session check out a video made last time…
Special sessions As part of DPE, Developer & Platform Evangelism, we had the chance to see Scott Guthrie and Anders Hejlsberg for two Q&A sessions. It was fascinating to have a chance to meet people that I have been looking up to since a long time.
And not to forget the top speakers we got at the keynotes: Ray Ozzie, Norm Judah, Kevin Turner and producer John Landau speaking about the new Avatar movie.
TechReady was also an opportunity to meet some of my peers from over the world: Marc (he has an original domain name :), Quixing, Mitsu, Paolo, Mike, Jorge, and so many others!
Seattle is an international hub during this week, or that’ what the sales guy at the sports store told me.
Oh, is it true that it always rains in Seattle? The event was held last week, this is the middle of Summer, but we did manage to get rain a few times. So I guess it is true after all…
TechReady7 logo at the Convention Center in Seattle.
View from the Space Needle onto Seattle downtown.