In an industry that communicates with terms such as "Browser Hell" and "browser wars," a web designer can be excused for having some anxiety over Microsoft's recent upgrade of Internet Explorer 6 (IE6) to Internet Explorer 7 (IE7). Web designers should ask the following questions:
What problems does IE6 possess and what fixes does IE7 provide?
What part of the Cascading Style Sheets (CSS) specification does IE7 for Windows support?
How can web designers work around any problems that exist within IE7's support for CSS?
While web designers are testing their designs on the latest browser, how fast will IE7 be adopted by their client's audience?
This Short Cut attempts to answer these questions to allow web designers a smoother transition to IE7 and, hopefully, an escape from Browser Hell.
Christopher Schmitt has been working on the Web since 1993. He is the principal of Heatvision.com, Inc., a new media design firm, and resides in Orlando, Florida. Christopher speaks frequently about web design at conferences including South by Southwest Interactive and Web Design World. His books include "Designing CSS Web Pages" (New Riders), "Professional CSS: Cascading Style Sheets for Web Design" (Wrox), and "CSS Cookbook" (O'Reilly).
By Albert Liu from Silicon Valley Web Builder (SVWB)
Comments about oreilly Releasing CSS:
Releasing CSS is a part of O'Reilly's Short Cut series, a line of short (less than 100 pages) PDF documents which provide focused information on a specific topic. The goal of Releasing CSS is to provide insight into the limitations of CSS on Internet Explorer 6.0, and provide guidance on how to transition from pages built for Internet Explorer 6.0 to pages built for Internet Explorer 7.0.
The book starts off with an overview of CSS selectors, describing IE6's support (or lack thereof) for each selector. It then covers specific failings of IE6 CSS support. All of the usual suspects are here, including PNG alpha-channels, and the IE6 box model. The section ends with a massive list of links to sites describing various rendering bugs in IE6.
The next section covers IE7 CSS behavior. This section is pretty short, with the author noting that most of the problems in IE6 have been fixed. The rest of the content is a bunch of screenshots and the markup that generated it.
There is a very short section on CSS Hacks. These are techniques which exploit browser CSS bugs to determine which CSS styles are applied to a page. The author also discusses other ways to control CSS styles, including server-side behavior, and the IE conditional comment syntax.
The rest of the book is devoted to a sample website layout using CSS. This is probably the most interesting part of the book, where the author documents specific techniques that can be achieved using CSS.
I feel that the author could stand to be a bit more authoritative in his approach. For a book with such a low page-count, the author provides few best practices. Instead, he presents options that the reader will have to decide on, and devotes a huge percentage of page space to images and sample code.
Releasing CSS is a good starting point for someone who has knowledge of basic CSS syntax, but is interested in learning more about the specifics of CSS implementation in IE. The book is filled with pictures, examples, and external links which should provide a solid foundation for more advanced CSS topics. However, more advanced developers and people seeking specific guidelines on how to transition from IE6 to IE7 will need something more substantial.
Releasing CSS is a PDF publication that addresses cascading style sheet (CSS) support in version 7 of Microsoft's Internet Explorer browser. This work is part of O'Reilly Media's Short Cuts series. The topic is one of immediate interest to web developers as IE7 is currently being rolled out as an upgrade and is included in the new Vista version of Windows.
Releasing CSS is both a reference and a tutorial. It starts with a concise review of IE support for CSS, a good introduction for beginners and a useful resource for veterans. In the course of explaining the deficiencies of IE6, the author discusses a few relevant CSS selectors and uses graphical depictions of HTML document trees to illustrates how selectors work.
The graphics are very effective, and a beginner would learn a lot just from this section. Experienced designers can benefit as well by gaining some new familiarity with CSS selectors, like child and adjacent sibling selectors, that have not been commonly used up
to now due to lack of IE support.
Among the other topics covered are PNG alpha transparency, the box model, a long and annotated list of CSS rendering bugs, a list of selectors that IE7 supports, and a discussion
of what support is still not provided, such as generated content. The author even points out
a new bug, and he then provides a workaround.
There is an explanation of IE hacks that is a nice reference, and a section on ways to deliver pages depending on the browser, a useful technique that advanced designers might want to get familiar with. Along the way, the author addresses side issues like IE6 hacks and workarounds, or a way to do rounded corners. These are a bit off-topic, but they are useful nonetheless. Schmitt also notes the importance of declaring a DOCTYPE, a basic point that is sometimes missed by other writers.
The author puts it all together in a section called Setting up an Intelligent Hacking System that explains the principle and practice of hack management. He then does a demo page to show how to use the newly supported CSS properties by developing a webpage from start to finish.
The final section on the expected adoption rate of IE7 is interesting for planning purposes.
The information will be outdated quickly, but links are supplied to websites where actual figures are posted. The publication ends with a listing of sources for IE7 information.
This publication is nicely organized with a table of contents in the margin and links to external sources within the text. Reading Releasing CSS on a laptop was reasonbly comfortable, and the live links were useful when I was connected to an access point. Generally, the PDF format works well for this type of work.