10 must haves in IE Next

Some of us had great hopes for Internet Explorer 7. We were hoping that it would offer great support for Web standards, perhaps even on par with that of the leaders in the Web browser arena. Our hopes were slowly smothered as IE 7 moved from beta-beta to real-beta to release-candidate to release version.

In the end, all we got was a patched up IE 6, which while being a lot better still is lagging far behind when it comes to... pretty much everything. And that includes features that the normal user notices. The new UI is horrible. But what do I know? A company with the kind of resources that Microsoft has must have done thorough interaction design and user testing of the new UI. Right?

But the current IE 7 is what we got, and Microsoft is Microsoft and Microsoft does whatever it pleases. So I do find it a little bit odd that Microsoft feels the need to - once again - ask developers for input on what we need from the next version of IE (IE Next). We have already told you that. Over and over and over. In fact, I have done so twice already:

But hey, writing wishlists can be fun, and since a few of the items on my previous lists actually have been fixed or implemented, here are my current top ten must have bug fixes and new features in IE Next:

  1. Rewrite or replace the layout engine. First of all, and the most important thing in my opinion, IE needs a completely new layout engine that actually works properly. Just patching and patching the seemingly very fragile Trident engine apparently does not work. My guess is that this would require a full rewrite or a switch to an existing engine (both Gecko and WebKit are available if you want to use them, and both are far, far ahead of Trident).

    Yes, all browsers have bugs, but compared to IE the other browsers look like they have a resident pest exterminator taking care of the bugs before anybody notices them.

    Replacing the layout engine would remove most of the many, many CSS bugs that still plague IE, so I'm not going to mention any of those specifically.

  2. Implement the CSS table model. Back in 1998, CSS 2 introduced display:table et al., which would be very useful when solving certain layout problems.
  3. Resize text set in pixels. Come on, stop being so stubborn and let users resize all text, no matter which unit is used to specify its size. And no, the full page zoom thing in IE 7 doesn't count, at least not until it works properly. Take a look at Opera for a much better implementation.
  4. Add support for multiple background images. This would, once well supported, let Web designers get rid of approximately 12 trillion non-semantic elements used for rounded corners and custom borders. Safari supports it. You can too.
  5. Add support for generated content with :before and :after. This would allow auto-clearing of elements without having to resort to the current ugly IE workarounds. It would also let Web designers get rid of another few billion non-semantic elements used for decorative purposes.
  6. Support :active and :focus on all relevant elements. Having to fake :focus on links with :active is getting old, as is not being able to use :focus to highlight text inputs that have focus.
  7. Stop displaying alternative text as tooltips. It's wrong (Alt text is an alternative, not a tooltip) and encourages developers to use the alt attribute the wrong way. This puts IE 7 in the same league as Netscape 4 for Windows.
  8. Add support for the caption-side property. Being able to put the caption at the top or bottom of tables would be nice.
  9. Support the q element properly. What is the reason for not supporting this element according to the specification? Sure, not everybody agrees with the specification on this one, but just do it like all the other kids, ok?
  10. Officially support running multiple versions of IE. Web professionals need to spend way too much time to test their work in IE as it is. Ease our pain just a little by giving us an official way of running several versions of IE on the same copy of Windows. Not necessarily at the same time, but without having to reboot or reinstall. Please.

Other IE Next wish lists:

What's at the top of your list of bugs to fix or missing features to add in IE Next?


This article has been translated into the following languages:

Posted on December 13, 2006 in Browsers, CSS