Web standards and IE at MIX

As the MIX 07 show approaches (I’ll be there Sunday/Monday, then giving a talk at UC Berkeley on Tuesday), I’ve been focusing on what might seem like trailing-edge issues. Last night, for example, I was up way too late rewriting my cross-browser LibraryLookup script — partly to fix a bug, but partly to improve my understanding of how the two supporting technologies, Greasemonkey and Turnabout, could work together to deliver powerful capabilities to millions of people who have yet to experience those capabilities. (See below for some specific notes on Turnabout.)

Also, since I have a couple of talks upcoming, and since I prefer to make and use web-style presentations rather than PowerPoint presentations, I’ve been revisiting HTML Slidy. Here too, I’m paying close attention to cross-browser compatibility issues. After updating to the latest version of Slidy, I’m getting decent results on IE7, Firefox, and Safari.

Although the star of MIX 07 will be Silverlight, it’s important to note — as I mentioned the other day — that Silverlight is a browser-agnostic citizen of the web. Which raises the question: How is Internet Explorer’s own web citizenship coming along? There will be four MIX sessions on IE. One’s by Chris Wilson, who co-chairs the W3C HTML Working Group and whom I interviewed here. Another is by Molly Holzschlag, who is a leading web standards expert and advocate now partnering with Microsoft to advance standards and interoperability, and whom I hope to interview for a future Channel 9 podcast.

Now, more than ever, this work is critically important. It’s true that a more interoperable web is a rising tide that lifts all boats. But we’re also about to break some new ground with Microsoft Silverlight and Adobe Apollo, technologies that build on existing web standards but will also (in my opinion) lead to new ones. As the competition to create those new standards heats up, it will be crucial to ground it in cooperative agreements about the foundation they’re built on.

Notes on Turnabout:

  1. Installing scripts.
    It should be possible to right-click the link to a script, like this one, and install it that way. But that’s not working for me, and the alternative — downloading the script and installing from Turnabout’s options dialog — will be offputting for most folks.
  2. Uninstalling scripts.
    As a script developer, I’ve noticed that uninstalled scripts don’t seem to go away. In order to reliably test new versions I’ve had to completely uninstall/reinstall Turnabout.
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2 thoughts on “Web standards and IE at MIX

  1. Jon,

    Sorry I’m going to be missing MIX07.

    A couple of issues, however, that I hope you (and others at Microsoft) will address – both at MIX and in the upcoming year.

    1. Browser issues are much more than just Firefox vs. IE – at Microsoft you have too many, differently incompatible browsers – the Mobile IE browser behaves strangely on some sites, IE 7 one way, earlier versions of IE still other ways.

    2. Vista seems (at least to this seriously power user) to have introduced a new set of incompatibilities – Firefox on Vista behaves differently than on other platforms – especially around embedded Java apps (since the behavior is to utterly halt and freeze, I haven’t been able to troubleshoot what is the actual errors being generated – I suspect it is some bit of Vista security but which is not displaying a message to the user (I’m getting errors to that effect in the error logs). Halting activity without telling me is not good behavior on the part of a security system – especially when it is behavior I specifically want.

    (what is crashing this is Chris Pirillo’s live page – http://chris.pirillo.com/live – in the latest cut of Firefox running on Vista Business edition on a brand new Thinkpad x60)

    3. Standards are great – but could Microsoft also be consistent across versions of your own applications? Specifically the .csv export from Outlook 2007 and from Outlook 2007 Business Contact Manager is DIFFERENT from earlier “outlook .csv” exports. Different as in the SAME fields are named and organized differently! Huh?

    Yes, .csv export is about as low tech a way to export/import/exchange data – but why change it dramatically? And further, why not offer an export from tools such as Business Contact Manager in fully standard formats (vCards for example)

    We should be moving to a world where data – such as our contacts – is migrated around the web for us – but until we reach that ideal, we (as users) should be able to export our data and import it into other systems via the easiest and simplest formats possible (vCards are old but tried and true, even csv was reliable until the latest hiccups).


    see also my blog: http://shannonclark.wordpress.com where I have documented my trials and tribulations with Vista and Office 2007.

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