Sunday 30 December 2007

Strangest Dream: End to Browser Wars?

(original lyrics by Ed McCurdy and known to most because of Paul Simon, thx guys)

Strangest Dream (Web version)

Last night I had the strangest dream
I’ve ever dreamt before
I dreamed we had all agreed
To put an end to browser war

I dreamed I saw a mighty room
Filled with women (but mostly men)
And the papers they were signing said
They’d not do specs wrong again

And when the specs all were signed
And a million copies made
Some joined hands and thought they’d have a prayer
About the specifications, made

And the people on the Web below
Were running up and down
While markup and scripting and browser wars
Were scattered all around

Last night I had the strangest dream
I’ve ever dreamt before
I dreamed that we had all agreed
To put an end to browser wars.

Filed under:   general
Posted by:   Molly | 07:55 | Comments (39)

Murder Tales

Have you taken the Death Test? I have. I am apparently meant to be murdered. Here’s how I see it:

I’m falling to sleep, so deep and sweet. I stretch and turn, pull the pillow over my head. I’m ready for serious rest.

Not more than ten minutes after I fall to sleep, I begin to dream. My dream colors are very noir, black, grey, lots of shadows.

Think of dramatic violins and long dark hallways.

Next step is the squeaky one. The one you step on and it squeaks and you hold your breath.

Your Mom or Dad or wife or whoever hears that squeak. They can count it. As you can. One, two, eleven.

What do you do now? Do you fall to sleep, so deep and sweet? Will you stretch and turn and pull the pillow over your head?

I am convinced I will die by murder.

Please don’t blame the poor guy.

I’d have killed me too.

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Posted by:   Molly | 02:29 | Comments (26)

Friday 28 December 2007

Best Bets for Browser Bug Bashing

One of the most frustrating, time consuming and challenging aspects of managing cross-browser rendering of CSS is dealing with bugs along with incomplete implementations. Examining helpful resources such as position is everything and QuirksMode, it becomes profoundly clear that today’s front end web designer and developer must be pretty adept at dealing with this core problem.

I call it a core problem because of course, interoperability is a problem the Web was meant to solve! Yet, the disparities in Web browsers have in fact caused the greatest accessibility challenge to the Web we as its authors must face, and conquer.

Fortunately, there are some proven ways to deal with cross-browser challenges. We can use hacks, which of course are controversial in their own right due in large part to how difficult they are to maintain and how often they are based on invalid markup or parsing errors (* html anyone?).

We can use conditional comments for managing IE versions. CC’s are in my opinion the cleanest way to manage IE issues on a case by case basis, but they too are controversial. An HTML comment was never intended to contain a conditional statement, so a CC is essentially a hack. Furthermore, it’s an IE-specific solution, so that in and of itself smells a little funny to the purist nose.

Another approach involves using JavaScript to “correct” browser behaviors, such as we find with Dean Edwards’ IE7 Scripts.

What ends up happening, as we all know, is that we use a combination of these techniques where necessary to address our browser base.

So we have the techniques: Three primary ways we approach bug bashing and implementation problems. What’s missing isn’t our knowledge, but a conventional method. If we had a step-by-step procedural to walk ourselves through, that could be very helpful. Clearly, what works for one site isn’t necessarily going to apply to another, but some guidelines to help each other manage this very murky, very challenging problem would certainly be of benefit.

My intuition and experience suggest that the most effective way to manage bugs is to kill them where they live. That means having a clear workflow from the earliest stages of authoring to manage browser issues regarding CSS. Surely many folks will have created such workflows, perhaps even unaware that you’ve done so, as it’s just become part of your process.

Think about how you work and if you could take a moment to share your best bets for managing cross-browser CSS design, we can together examine the least time-consuming, most efficient and most solid method by which to bash those bad, bad bugs.

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Posted by:   Molly | 12:26 | Comments (44)

Wednesday 19 December 2007

Yes Ladies and Gentlemen, We Have a Smiley

During the past week’s drama related to Microsoft’s lack of transparency and problems with working groups and browser vendors, it literally pained me so to have to keep my mouth shut when I knew there were some very good things happening.

Smiley face from Acid2 test

I’m glad Bill Gates truly took the time to look into the communication issues, because to quote the man himself from our conversation last week: “There’s not like some deep secret about what we’re doing with IE.”

From the IEblog today, Dean Hachamovich writes:

“Now, with all that context, I’m delighted to tell you that on Wednesday, December 12, Internet Explorer correctly rendered the Acid2 page in IE8 standards mode. While supporting the features tested in Acid2 is important for many reasons, it is just one of several milestones for the interoperability, standards compliance, and backwards compatibility that we’re committed to for this release. We will blog more on these topics . . .

For IE8, we want to communicate facts, not aspirations. We’re posting this information now because we have real working code checked in and we’re confident about delivering it in the final product. We’re listening to the feedback about IE, and at the same time, we are committed to responsible disclosure and setting expectations properly. Now that we’ve run the test on multiple machines and seen it work, we’re excited to be able to share definitive information.

Would jumping up and down and saying “I told you so” be in order? No, because I couldn’t tell you so. However, I have long been saying that some good things are happening up in Redmond. I applaud the developers who had to keep their mouths closed due to NDA’s and did so under heavy scrutiny, and I applaud all those at Microsoft working hard and proving that they not only hear developer’s needs but understand them and are truly working to make a difference.

Bravo, IE Team, for the hard work and most especially for finally getting the go-ahead to restart this much needed conversation.

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Posted by:   Molly | 14:07 | Comments (105)

Sunday 16 December 2007

Define Web Standards in a <p> or Less

You’ve got one paragraph to clearly define the term “web standards” – if you can do it in one sentence, all the better.


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Posted by:   Molly | 17:56 | Comments (95)

Wednesday 5 December 2007

Conversation with Bill Gates about IE8 and Microsoft Transparency

Yesterday I was once again honored to have the opportunity to speak directly with Bill Gates at Mix n’ Mash about issues pertaining to standards and the upcoming IE8. Concerned about a lack of forthcoming information to the designer and developer community regarding IE8 and Web standards, I asked Bill if he could, in the spirit of a more open Microsoft, find out what was going on. Here is the transcript of our conversation (with some repairs where the transcriptionist couldn’t hear), along with a photo of the fantastic Mix n’ Mash crew.

The Mix n' Mash Attendees with Bill Gates

(From ltr: Jonathan Snook, Julie Lerman, Kelly Goto, Rob Howard, Bill Gates, Molly Holzschlag, Kip Kniskern, Jesse Warden, Keith Peters and Erik Natzke.)

MOLLY HOLZSCHLAG: So, I have a little bit of an infrastructure question, as related to MIX and the open conversation and transparency. A few years ago, MIX was a big information and conversation about the opening of ideas, it was about when in the specific we talked about the browser, IE 7, a lot of interest in that, a lot of talking about it. So, for the last year or so, I’ve been working, I’ve been a consultant here with the IE and tools teams to try and help get standards implementation to be strong, and we see some really great advances.

But very recently there seems to be a shift in infrastructure, and I don’t really know exactly what happened, but what I understand, my understanding is that IE sits on the Web platform rather than in the — excuse me, on the platform, on the Windows platform rather than the Web, and something seems to have changed where there is no messaging now for the last six months to a year going out on the IE team. They seem to have lost the transparency that they had been able to get some momentum going on in the IE 7 phase, in the year and a half since MIX06.

So, I’m very concerned about this, because being the person here that’s supposed to be the liaison between designers and developers for the Web and the browser conversation, this conversation seems to have been pretty much shut down, and I’m very concerned as to why that is, and how we can correct it.

BILL GATES: I’ll have to ask Dean what the hell is going on. I mean, we’re not — there’s not like some deep secret about what we’re doing with IE.

MOLLY HOLZSCHLAG: But they’re not letting people talk about it. I do realize that there is a new engine, there is some other information, and this information is not being made public — we are being asked not to talk about it. So, I’m concerned about that.

BILL GATES: I’ll ask Dean what’s going on. I mean, is IE 8 represented at MIX? I assume it is.


MOLLY HOLZSCHLAG: To what extent?

JENNIFER RITZINGER: To be determined


JENNIFER RITZINGER: There will be disclosure by MIX08.



BILL GATES: There’s a paradox about disclosure, which is when you’re far away from doing something you’re super open; when you’re very close to doing something you’re open; when you’re making your cut list of what you can do and not do, then particularly because — well —

MOLLY HOLZSCHLAG: it sets expectations and that causes trouble?

BILL GATES: Yeah, and so I don’t know where Dean is in terms of if he’s willing to commit what’s in IE 8 and what’s not in IE 8. In terms of standards support, he’ll see that it’s a glass half full. It adds a bunch of new stuff we didn’t have before, it doesn’t add everything that everybody wants us to do.

MOLLY HOLZSCHLAG: I mean, really IE 7 made some great advances, so . . .

BILL GATES: No, and believe me, Dean gets this stuff.

MOLLY HOLZSCHLAG: Oh, Dean totally gets it, and that’s why I’m concerned, because they have always been so forward facing.

BILL GATES: I’ll look into it.

MOLLY HOLZSCHLAG: Yeah, do. It would mean a lot to the design and development communities.

BILL GATES: I mean, I will look into it.

BILL GATES: We do sometimes have MIX — a lot of how the MIX agenda gets set is the tools guys, and we need to make sure the Win — yeah, we have two organizations. I mean, they’re totally complementary, but we should make sure the Windows messages come through in MIX. I know last year the Windows group felt like their messages could have — we could have done an even better job on the Windows related messages, that that didn’t happen. So, we’ll double check that.


Today, on the IE blog, the now official name of “IE8” has been announced. Before, or by March of this year at MIX, there will be some news I’m sure will be of interest to anyone working with Internet Explorer.

Filed under:   general
Posted by:   Molly | 18:11 | Comments (88)

Saturday 1 December 2007

Clouds Over Catskills

Thanksgiving 2007

Playing around with black and white settings in my little digital elf. I liked the results and textures of this photo, taken from a jet flying over the Catskill Mountains in upstate New York.

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Posted by:   Molly | 12:10 | Comments (53)

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