Internet Explorer just can’t get no respect. The browser that every web developer loves to hate really doesn’t deserve that hate anymore. IE 10 bests the competition in quite a few benchmark tests and offers support for HTML5 and other web standards.
Still, hating on IE is well ingrained in web developer culture, ingrained enough that even Microsoft has developed a sense of humor about it. The company has released another video for its ongoing The Browser You Loved to Hate promotional campaign, this time showcasing something Webmonkey is very familiar with — the IE troll. In fact, Webmonkey is so familiar with the IE troll that the site is featured in the video.
There’s also an Easter Egg in the video; Microsoft really did create a mock “Karaoke Standard” site, which has another short video featuring the IE troll.
If you’ve been following CSS best practices, using prefixes for all major browsers, along with the unprefixed properties in your code, then there’s not much to be learned from Microsoft’s guide (though there are a couple of differences in touch APIs that are worth looking over).
But if you’ve been targeting WebKit alone, Microsoft’s guide will get your sites working in IE 10, WebKit, and other browsers that have dropped prefixes for standardized CSS properties.
Sadly, even some the largest sites on the web are coding exclusively for WebKit browsers like Chrome, Safari and Mobile Safari. The problem is bad enough that Microsoft, Mozilla and Opera are planning to add support for some -webkit prefixed CSS properties.
In other words, because web developers are using only the -webkit prefix, other browsers must either add support for -webkit or risk being seen as less capable browsers even when they aren’t. So far Microsoft hasn’t carried through and actually added support for -webkit to any versions of IE 10, but Opera has added it to its desktop and mobile browsers.
Microsoft’s guide to making sites work in IE 10 for Windows Phone 8 also covers device detection (though it cautions that feature detection is the better way to go) and how to make sure you trigger standards mode in your testing environment, since IE 10 defaults to backward-compatibility mode when used on local intranets.
For more details on how to make sure your site works well in IE 10 for Windows Phone 8, head on over to the Windows Phone Developer Blog (and be sure to read through the comments for a couple more tips).
If you’d like to try out IE 10 on Windows 7, head on over to the IE 10 downloads page and grab a copy for Windows 7 (requires SP1).
This release is still technically a preview, but given that installing it replaces IE 9, clearly Microsoft is a little more confident about its stability and polish than with previous platform previews.
While for the most part IE 10 for Windows 7 looks and quacks like IE 10 for Windows 8, there are a couple of differences. The most noticeable is the appearance of IE 10, which uses Windows 8 scrollbars even on Windows 7, making it look out of place alongside other Windows 7 apps.
Web developers should also be aware that a few touch-related DOM events present on Windows 8 are missing on Windows 7. The user agent string is slightly different as well, with the Windows 8 version reporting “Touch” at the end of the string. For full details on the differences for web development, see the Internet Explorer Developer Center docs.
Should you decide that you don’t want to use this latest Platform preview, just use the control panel to uninstall IE 10, which also re-installs IE 9.
First the good news. IE 10 on mobile is leaps and bounds ahead of its predecessors and supports web app essentials like the Application Cache API for creating offline apps and IndexedDB for storing data. There’s also support for Web Workers, WebSockets and several of the new HTML5 form elements. For more on the latter, be sure to check out developer Andrea Trasatti’s nice rundown of HTML5 form support in IE 10.
IE 10 on mobile has all the new CSS features found in the Windows 8 version as well, including CSS layout features like CSS Regions and Grid layout. The Windows Phone Developer Blog also touts Flexbox, but it appears that IE 10′s Flexbox support uses the older syntax, which effectively means it doesn’t support Flexbox (so far Chrome and Opera are the only browsers to support the new syntax). Hopefully Microsoft will add support for the new syntax in a future IE 10 update.
While IE 10 for Windows Phone 8 is very close to feature parity with the desktop/tablet release, there are a few things web developers need to be aware of. Here’s Microsoft’s full list of things IE 10 can do on the desktop but not on phones:
Also in Internet Explorer 10 for Windows Phone, Window.open does not return a valid window object. This is because on the phone each “window” is isolated in its own sandbox.
The lack of support for the File Access API is disappointing, but to be fair iOS has been around for over five years and it just recently added File API support. However, the biggest gotcha for web developers may well be the last item since it’s not so much a missing feature as an unexpected behavior and could affect applications that would otherwise work just fine.
Internet Explorer 10′s “Modern” (or “Metro”) mode includes limited support for Adobe’s Flash Player plugin — websites approved by Microsoft can access Flash, unapproved sites cannot. Fortunately, intrepid Windows 8 users have already found an easy way to extend Flash support to any website.
But the only time Flash “just works” in IE 10′s Metro mode is when you visit sites Microsoft has approved. Developers can submit their sites to Microsoft for approval, but if you’d like to take matters into your own hands, user Marvin_S at the XDA Developer forums has figured out how to add whichever sites you like to Microsoft’s whitelist. To edit the whitelist, just open the file C:\Users\[USER_NAME]\AppData\Local\Microsoft\Internet Explorer\IECompatData\iecompatdata.xml in a text editor of some kind. Then add whichever domains you’d like to be able to access the Flash Player.
To make sure that your custom whitelist isn’t overwritten when Windows 8 updates the list, open IE 10′s Tools menu and select the Compatibility View option. Then uncheck the box labeled “Download updated compatibility list from Microsoft.”
Be forewarned that one of the reasons Microsoft has limited which sites can access Flash is to limit security vulnerabilities; editing the whitelist yourself and turning off updates may expose you to Flash-based attacks, especially given that during the testing phase of Windows 8 Microsoft was slow to apply Flash updates.