The Other Thingy - Internet Explorer 5.0: With Style, Finally? - Style Watch | WebReference

The Other Thingy - Internet Explorer 5.0: With Style, Finally? - Style Watch

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Internet Explorer 5.0: With Style, Finally?

The Other Thingy

A lot of new features have been added to Internet Explorer's CSS engine in version 5.0. But, alas, much is still missing. Even CSS Level 1 is still not completely implemented, and although Microsoft has rushed to implement several new CSS2 features, it seems that debugging the older ones is not on their list of priorities.

CSS1 Support

First, let's look at a few CSS1 features that Internet Explorer 5.0 still doesn't understand:

Two of the features of CSS that had developers drooling since the specification was still a rough draft were the first-line and first-letter pseudoclasses. These can be used (in Mozilla, for instance) to create nice effects like drop-caps and emphasized first lines, Economist-style. Unfortunately, these simple selectors still puzzle Microsoft's programmers, as Internet Explorer 5.0 ignores them.

The relatively simple word-spacing property, that controls spacing between words in text, is still completely unimplemented.

The text-decoration property still has some minor bugs, such as decorations not spanning child elements and color not remaining the same.

The vertical-align property is also seriously buggy, as text cannot be aligned using numerical or top, bottom and middle values.

And now we come to the infamous visual formatting model. This was the source of much woe for authors of CSS up until now, and the question is, has it been fixed?

Well, partially yes. We do have a working visual formatting model for the block formatting context. However, box properties on inline elements are still missing, which means that, with word-spacing also missing, detailed CSS formatting on the phrase level is still beyond Internet Explorer's reach. Several minor bugs are still there: There are no dotted and dashed border styles, and the groove and ridge styles still have that wierd formatting that makes them look more or less solid unless you use very light colors.

The good news is that the float property works pretty well for the more simple uses. This means that we can now have columnar layouts without resorting to clumsy absolute positioning techniques, but this is mostly something of the future since we still have to cater for broken implementations in the version 4.x browsers.

Overall, the CSS1 implementation in Internet Explorer 5.0 just fixed a couple of bugs from the previous version, and a lot of very useful properties are unfortunately missing from the rendering engine. If Microsoft claims CSS1 conformance for Internet Explorer 5.0, don't believe them. Bugs in the parsing engine also mean that many style sheets written to spec will probably break under IE5.

Now that we've established that Internet Explorer 5.0 doesn't do the basic stuff very well, let's look at the more complicated things

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Produced by Stephanos Piperoglou and

Created: April 7, 1999
Revised: Apr 30, 1999