Happy Rendering Trails with IE8

Grabbed a copy of IE8 and installed it. I like to live dangerously. Here's some first thoughts.

Developer Toolbar

I have the IE developer toolbar installed so I can mess around with sites. It's still a toolbar, but in IE8 everything has become a giant popup like this:


I remember this being a docked window in IE7. You can't select "Outline | Table Cells or Tables" anymore and when you do select to outline an element, it's wrong. Also when you click on the page, the popup goes away now. Not very useful anymore IMHO. So much for that little tool.

Web Slices

This is a new feature in IE8 and let's you "slice" part of a web page for later retrieval. WebSlices allow users to connect to websites by subscribing to content directly within a webpage. WebSlices behave just like feeds where clients can subscribe to get updates and notify the user of changes. A WebSlice is a portion within a webpage that is treated like a subscribe-able item, just like a feed. To enable a WebSlice on your website, annotate your webpage with class names for the title, description, and other subscribe-able properties.

When you add a web slice to IE8 you get a link added to your Links (I never use these) but it's not just a link to the page, it'll create a menu that previews the content you've sliced. They have an example where you can slice the content from Facebook

Here's a web slice I created in this blog entry:

Bil Simsers Blog

End time: 6 hours

Subscribe to Feed

This item updates every 15 minutes.

If you're viewing this in IE8 you'll see the little icon hover over the section above and paint a faint box around it.


Click on the icon it and it'll let you add it as a slice.


Consider it my slice of life I give to you today, free of charge.

Anywho, now in your Links Toolbar, you'll see the entry for the slice you just created and subscribed to.


This is a pretty boring slice. Here's my web slice from my Facebook Friends update which is a little sexier:


My issues with Web Slices

These are just my issues, and might be very well unfounded since I've only been playing with this specific feature for all of 10 minutes so YMMV.

IE8 is *supposed* to be W3C compliant (by default, you can turn it off via an option). This means that a) most old sites that were built to "work" in IE7 with IE hacks and workarounds, might not render properly in IE8 and b) IE8 is compliant to a standard not set or dictated by Microsoft (although they are on the committee).

So I'm confused.

A new compliant browser yet they're now introducing this "feature" called Web Slices that requires you to markup your system using specific codes. Grant you, when you look at the code to create a web slice (below) it's minimal and isn't non-compliant but to me something just seems funny here. Here's the code you need to implement a web slice:

<div class="hslice" id="1">
   <p class="entry-title">Game System - $66.00</p>
      <div class="entry-content">
         <img src="game.jpg">
         <p>End time: <abbr class="endtime" title="2008-02-28T12:00:00-05:00"> 6 hours</abbr></p>
      <a rel="feedurl" href="www.ebay.com/game.xml">Subscribe to Feed</a>
      <p>This item updates every <span class="ttl">15</span> minutes.</p>

Also this is my first exposure to something called hAtom Microformat (which by the way doesn't navigate properly with IE8, can't page up/down on the site) so it's interesting that you specific fixed name classes (entry-title, entry-content, etc.) to tag content. IE8 Web Slices builds on this and adds it's own "hslice" tag to the mix.

So I can tag content this way, but now I'm going to have to be very careful when I design my CSS to not override these classes (no idea what havok we'll wroth if we change the "hslice" class, perhaps the universe will open up and we'll all be whisked away to a land of lean naked bodies on the shores of an endless river?).

In any case, watch for these web slices to show up soon. Not sure how much this is going to catch on, we're already in information overload with email, RSS feeds, newsgroups, mailing lists, etc. Is another notification mechanism something the world needs now? Are web slices going to give me anything more than what I already get with RSS (except maybe the mechanism to subscribe, which can be pretty easy with RSS now anyways).

Domain Names

When browsing a website you'll see in the address bar the domain name of the site you're browsing highlighted. Everything else is grayed out.


This filters out any subdomains and all the other stuff that I suppose you don't need to know. Guess this is to help people know they're on a site that's about to steal their identity and credit card info and run off to Bora Bora (well, that's what *I* would do).


Of course there are issues with this release. It is beta 1 after all so don't expect wine and roses. For example, I had to turn off my Google toolbar to even read the Web Slices Specification Format page on MSDN. It kept crashing the browser.

I think the biggest problem with the release is that there are rendering issues, rendering issues, and more rendering issues. You would think by version 8 rendering out an interpretation of a bunch of codes with angle brackets would be understood by now. Guess not.

For example the new Code Gallery site doesn't quite render properly in IE8,


neither does weblogs.asp.net:


neither does CodePlex (another site Google toolbar + IE8 = crash),


neither does SourceForge,


neither does CodeBetter (holy ugly step sister batman!)


neither does this blog.

Rendering is a problem which is a result of Internet Explorer being a victim of it's own success. So many websites coded in hacks and workarounds and fixes to "get around" buggy rendering IE5, IE6, etc. and now comes along IE8 to fix the problem and render things correctly. Problem is all those sites (and there are a lot) may not have the manpower to go back and unfix their bugs (or whatever the term is as I'm all bass ackwards).

Am I being too hard? After all it *is* beta 1 after all. I feel a product like Internet Explorer is mature enough that things like rendering pages should be second nature by now. Software that matters. For a web browser, I think the only thing that really matters is "can I view a web page as it was designed?". Apparently not yet.

Oh well, at least we can always rely on Jakob Nielsen.


  • Good God, they couldn't even get IE7 right, so they advanced to IE8 already?

  • Thankfully, you can get around the rendering issues. I checked out a few site I've built and most worked fine, but one was really messed up. A quick change to add the special X-UA-Compatible meta tag and it shaped right up.

    Developer tools has definitely taken a step back. They seriously just need to copy FireBug feature for feature. Admit it's a superior tool and get over it.

    I have no problems with the markup for WebSlices because it doesn't use anything proprietary. I want an option to shut them off though. I have a feeling we're going to be inundated with purple tags on every site. Reminds me of the old SmartTag debacle.

  • On the hslice names they need to learn from the sharepoint team and append an 'ms-' to the class.

    The domain name thing is a nice idea, hope it is something firefox copies.

    webslices is probably a waste of time as mentioned a similar capability has been around for a long time and there has not been much usage.
    The Activities capability could be nice if they get much usage.

    The best thing is that they switched it is so ie8 uses the W3C rendering as default. Yea IE8 team.

  • Just go ahead and try to use maps.google.com in IE8, Even Microsoft's own local.live.com doesn't render properly. Calling this a Beta is a major mistake. this is more like Pre-Alpha (aka: CTP) quality.

  • Why are people complaining about the fast release of IE8? Don't any of you remember how long we had IE6? Jeebus.

    I don't think you're being harsh at all. The FF3 beta can still render things properly. Hell, rendering should be a *solved* problem by now. It's the surrounding features like anit-phishing, web dev tools, better rss itnegration, better plugin support, etc. that should be churning.

    Hopefully some of these broken sites will start using standards compliant HTML and we can all move towards a better internet.

    Personally I think the domain idea is dumb. I like meaningful urls, and in my blog url, the domain name is the least informative piece. Don't try to downplay the rest of the url. It's important too.

    Web Slices will be an ignored feature. This will be RSS for retards. Mark my words.

    Thanks for the write-up Bil! Saves me from installing it :)

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