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rwandering.net

The blogged wandering of Robert W. Anderson

Abandoning Chrome until it supports WSR

I use speech recognition a great deal – and I recently switched to Windows Speech Recognition on Vista.  And I’ve been using Chrome exclusively for Google Apps, because I think it offers superior performance for JavaScript apps.

Unfortunately, Chrome doesn’t support WSR.  According to Rob Chambers this would be easy for Google to do, and I suspect it is just an oversight on their part (both in terms of making their software more accessible as well as following Windows best practices).

Google:  when are you going to put the effort into this?  The Chrome 2.0 Beta doesn’t do it either.

Rob Chambers: how easy is this really?  You also said that Firefox does support WSR – maybe it does, but not in Google Docs.

So now, I’m using IE8.  Google Docs with WSR works great there.

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Ballmer @ MIX08

A little late, but here are my notes on the Steve Ballmer keynote at MIX08.

The Q & A format was certainly better than having Steve Ballmer just talk for an hour, though I got a little tired of Guy Kawasaki’s cracks at Ballmer — about his wealth and method of travel, how Microsoft “should have hired” him.  It got better when he stopped that.

I thought the best questions were from the Audience:

On .NET being baked into IE

Why isn’t IE built on .NET.

This has been a common theme, that is, the lack of .NET adoption for some major Microsoft products.  Part of that is dog-fooding, but a bigger part is that the developer stories for these products are harder for lack of deep .NET support.  For example, Office and IE are not based on .NET.  Connecting between their unmanaged, COM, BHO worlds and the managed .NET world is more than a little painful.

Anyway, his response was that .NET wasn’t expected to be as proven and as far along by the time Vista shipped.  Fair enough, but I would have been happier if the delays in Vista were related to a real WinFx in the OS than the reasons given.

The iPhone

What about Silverlight for the iPhone?

Steve Ballmer responded (paraphrased) . . .

Would love to get it on everything;

Can’t say we’ve been having talks about it; and

Licensing model not so good.

Right.  The licensing model is not so good.

Maybe Microsoft can pay Apple a bunch of money so Silverlight can run on the iPhone.  Then developers can build the apps for free?

Sounds good to me.

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IE8 @ MIX08

This is the second of three posts on the MIX08 keynotes.  This is like live blogging without the live, since I’m writing this in Oakland.  You can follow my comments at http://twitter.com/rwandering.

IE8, Dean Hachamovitch, GM IEimage

Focus on standards compliance.  This will be a great productivity boost for web-site developers.

1. CSS 2.1. 

  • Good. 

2. CSS cert. 

  • Funny that Microsoft is claiming that ambiguities in the specs make it hard to prove correctness.  They are correct, but it sounds a little like whining.  It also reminds me of the Server 2008 test. 
  • Test cases from Microsoft, good. 
  • IE 8 transition might be painful.  For users.

3. Performance.

  • Script performance. 

4. HTML 5.

  • Back button can work with AJAX.  This is a very big deal for improving the consistency of the browser user experience.   
  • Connection events in HTML 5 / DOM storage, re-connect, “make content available” later.  Cool.

5. new dev tools

  • Cool script debugger in IE8.  Looks like the developer toolbar has gotten much better. 

6. Activities

  • User activities added to browser by users (kind of like smart links). 
  • Activities are defined in XML.  Kind of cool, though I can see the browser becoming hard to use as a user adds a bunch of activities; however, that is up to them to manage.   
  • This format is the OpenService Format Specification.  Share/Share-alike spec.

7. WebSlices

  • Users can subscribe to parts of web-pages (driven by sites providing this as a service).  
  • This is the WebSlice Format Specification.  Public domain spec.

8. IE8, Beta 1 for developers

  • Released today.  Cool.  I will be checking this out.  At first in a VM.  I hope IE7 can live along side IE8.  Since they didn’t mention this, my guess is no.

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Zoom Bug in IE7

Last week I wrote in Bug in IE7? that I thought there was a problem viewing this site:

In Firefox and IE6, my horizontal list (menu) works correctly. The picture below shows the “Link Blog” item highlighted and mouse-over.

Looks good

In IE7, all of the text is crowded together, but the mouse-over regions are in the correct place. Again, the picture below shows in the “Link Blog” item highlighted. Noticed that the highlight is in the same place, but the text is all crowded to the left.

Looks bad

This alone looks like a bug. I don’t see how the text and the highlight can be in two different locations.

It turns out that this is related to the zoom feature.  This site looks fine if zoom isn’t used (i.e., at 100%).  More or less zoom crowds just the text, but not the mouse-overs.

Must be a bug.

 

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Bug in IE7?

Before I report this as a bug, I thought I’d write it up and see if any CSS gurus can help me.

In Firefox and IE6, my horizontal list (menu) works correctly. The picture below shows the “Link Blog” item highlighted and mouse-over.

Looks good

In IE7, all of the text is crowded together, but the mouse-over regions are in the correct place. Again, the picture below shows in the “Link Blog” item highlighted. Noticed that the highlight is in the same place, but the text is all crowded to the left.

Looks bad

This alone looks like a bug. I don’t see how the text and the highlight can be in two different locations.

I have run this through the CSS Validator (here) and the XHTML Validator (here) and sounds nothing I can pin this on. (Note the XHTML Validator reports several errors having to do with individual posts).

So, is this a problem in my site or a bug in IE7?

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IE7 to release today?

There seems to be much interest in the release — I’m getting a lot of people coming to this blog for the answer.

I don’t know if it is true; but, the rumor has it that today, October 18th, is the day.

Update: and it looks like the rumors were correct.

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No side-by-side for IE7 and IE6

IE7 is coming out very soon (some say any day). One thing to be aware of: if you need to keep using IE6, don’t install IE7. This isn’t just an issue in the IE7 installer (i.e., IE7 upgrades IE6), but they cannot both be installed on the same machine.

I trust (and Microsoft really hopes) that this doesn’t affect users in a negative way.

My guess is that the only people who really care about the side-by-side issue are developers. Of course, IT managers will care too, but they can keep IE7 from being auto-updated.

My guess is that this due to COM (because IE programmability is all through COM).

Side-by-side COM is anywhere from hard to impossible. One more benefit for a browser built on managed.

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IE7 release date decoupled from Vista

It appears that IE7 has been decoupled from Vista. According to the IEBlog, the final release will be in “a few weeks”.

On a couple of occasions, I have requested that IE7 and .NET 3.0 be released when ready (post here) — presumably before Vista. I guess I have gotten part of my wish, though it is really the RTM of .NET 3.0 that I would like to see released.

On a side note: the last I checked IE7 is not dependent on .NET. Unfortunate to say the least. I would like to see managed Browser Helper Objects (BHOs) being easy without requiring COM — that could have gotten IE7 much closer to the Firefox extension model. What will ever drive .NET installs onto XP so that it is, in fact, ubiquitous?

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Bradbury on IE

Nick Bradbury has an excellent post on how Dvorak is wrong about Internet Explorer (perhaps Dvorak is reading Kevin Burton’s blog).

I agree with Mr. Bradbury on the value that Microsoft brings to developers by making IE easily embeddable into applications. Having this capability built into the OS makes it all the easier for the distribution of new products without the weight of an IE install.

So, yes, I too am glad that Windows has a browser. I do wish it were better and easier to extend; but, I think IE7 will help us there too.

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Replace IE7 with Firefox?

Kevin Burton suggests that the Vista IE7 delay can be eliminated by tossing IE7 and adopting Firefox. I would be surprised if IE7 is on the Vista critical path, but the idea of Microsoft replacing IE7 made me laugh.

At first, I thought he was kidding, but he is serious (see the discussion between Robert Scoble and Kevin in the comments for that post). Fundamentally, Kevin’s idea is an interesting one, but that ship sailed a long time ago. Too many developers have products that rely on IE (e.g., NewsGator uses the IE browser control) with large installed user bases. Microsoft cannot just leave those developers and users in the lurch without a migration path.

Kevin suggests that since Firefox is a whole new application, that existing applications wouldn’t break. Good point, but remember, IE6 is considered a security problem. Abandoning IE7 doesn’t solve the IE6 problem for Microsoft.

They own the problem by winning the first Browser Wars and then letting IE stagnate.

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