Thursday, December 11, 2008

CSS gets better with IE8 around the corner

CSS has gone through a major upgrade and IE8 is likely to be released soon. This will make sites look better and easier to manage. With CSS3 already implemented on Firefox and Safari, we can start developing and testing now.

CSS - cascading style sheets - is an essential tool in search engine optimisation - as it separates the design of a site from its content and helps sites download faster.

IE8 is the next version of Internet Explorer - the most popular browser in the world. We saw relatively smooth transitions from IE6 to IE7 over the last few years and now we can see that IE8 is clearly on the horizon. IE8 was first mentioned on the IEBlog in Dec 2007, the first beta version was subsequently available in March 2008. It is likely we will be seeing IE8 soon.

The great news is that CSS3 is being designed as a modular system. So rather than waiting for ages for a big change, changes are occurring one by one. This new methodology is fantastic news for standards obsessed web developers - as each section is finished and tested it can be released and so progress will be made faster and probably lead to further developments too.

This should encourage browsers to adopt the same upgrade path - automatically. Lets face it Microsoft already auto updates its commercial software, as does Apple. With luck Microsoft will be able to update Internet Explorer in the same way. We live in hope.

So what does this mean - better looking sites, sites that are more standards compliant, sites that are faster to load. In just a few years we will see CSS for sites that have less hacks and greater browser support for CSS.

Currently Firefox and Safari both support key features of CSS3 - using vendor identifiers -moz for Mozilla Firefox and -webkit for Safari. Both Firefox and Safari are regularly updated automatically nowadays - so it makes sense that we could expect IE8 to do the same. We live in hope that all our CSS troubles will be sorted soon.

With Firefox and Safari both supporting the key features of CSS3 we can see the new features of CSS3 working. CSS based tables address a big issue that has been missing from CSS to date. CSS3 will also enable text to flow over columns. But the key benefit remains greater ease of development and cross Browser standards that just must happen...

We already have experience of how to deal with user browser migration, so we can expect the upgrade to be implemented seamlessly. As we saw IE6 dwindle we can expect to see IE7 to follow suit to be replaced by IE8...

The King is dead - long live the King!

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