Okay, I lied. One more for 2007, but only because this is an early Christmas present from Microsoft, and when was the last time you got one of those?
For as much crap as I've given the IE team over the years, I have to say I'm really happy with the path they're on after reading this today. Rendering the Acid2 test correctly is a huge leap forward ("IE8 Standards Mode" or not).
Last year, IE7 wasn't nearly the big expansive update I'd have hoped, but the improvements they made hit all the right notes for me at the time. They seemed genuinely concerned about the problems that made our lives harder, and took steps to correct them. And testing against IE7 has been more good than bad; it's rare to get something working in Firefox and Safari that blows up in IE7. At most a few glitches here and there have required a bit of fixing, but nothing that has sucked away an entire afternoon like certain other past versions. (Now if they could just make IE6 go away once and for all, then we'd really be on to something...)
Using the past updates as a starting point and extrapolating, I've been cautiously optimistic that IE8 would deliver much more of the same. The lack of news hadn't really been bugging me until I realized a few months ago that, oh yeah, they have been pretty silent lately haven't they? No doubt last week's legal proceedings have something to do with the timing, but today I think we're seeing the first signs of what I'd been hoping, and the associated video suggests there's more to be revealed.
Obviously Acid2 is just one test, and there are other technologies that will become more and more relevant in the coming years. HTML5, CSS3, and SVG come to mind. But for the first reveal of what we can expect from the new browser, this is a welcome start.
I feel like I'd better pop my head up and break the Web Directions-induced radio silence for the sake of getting at least one more post on here before the end of the year. So this will be a bit of a round-up of what's been on my radar in the past month, in amongst all the craziness.
Web Directions North
The most frequent question in casual conversation these days: how are registrations? This year it's going really well. I daresay WDN08 is going to quite a bit bigger than 2007. There's still a lot — an awful lot — to do before the end of January, but the four of us putting it on are starting to feel the pressure lifting a little which is a nice pre-holiday treat. If you missed it, Digital Web is running their snowboard contest once again, and you have a few more days to get entries in for a shot at free tickets to the conference.
Drew and crew are back for another year of holiday cheer. If you missed it, over the weekend my annual contribution was published: Get in Shape, where I spend some time looking at the role of consistency, balance, and completion in design. Given last year's colour analysis, you could be forgiven for plotting the next few years' worth according to fundamental design elements like, ohhhh, say line or texture.
You've likely heard by now that Opera has decided to engage in legal proceedings against Microsoft. The main points seem to resolve to 1) Microsoft is limiting choice, and 2) they're refusing to implement web standards.
I'll reserve judgment on point #2 until I see what's in store for IE8 as the steps forward made by IE7 give me some hope for what lies ahead. (It struck me IE7 was a quick fix to kill the biggest headaches, so I wonder what they've done with the year or so they've had since shipping.)
Eric Meyer thinks this is a case of very Bad Timing and though I'm not quite as concerned about potential bad reactions, I find myself agreeing.
Stuff and CSS
And in the other corner, Andy Clarke kicked off a dialogue about disbanding the current CSS working group as a consequence of the Opera lawsuit, making the perceived connection more clear in a follow-up post.
Reactions have been swift and passionate both on-site and elsewhere. For my part, I questioned the financing of such a proposal, but that's far from my only concern. I think Maciej Stachowiak (Apple, WebKit) sums it up best: those of us in the trenches don't get feature requests from the general web design & development community, but the browser folks do. Far be it for me to claim what I want is the same as what everyone else wants; the community is too diverse. Removing the people who likely have the most insight and do much of the work seems like a less than ideal course of action.
It's a good discussion to have; there have to be better solutions.
an insightful late-entry essay to add to the heap, The future of web standards.
Back in October I decided to change the submissions process of the css Zen Garden to either yes, you're in, or no, thanks for trying. The new way didn't sit well with me, I'd forgotten that I often don't/can't include great work for some reason or another. Rejecting them outright was a problem.
So, another quick change to the publishing process, and we're back to the old way. All designs are published, but the ones that don't make the cut are put on the Other Designs list (accessible from "All Designs" in the top paragraph of text). While I was at it I decided to use the metadata for the newer ones that have it, so there's now a country and date listed for each of these.
A big link list may not be as elegant as the previous categorized designs, but it's sustainable — I still make a yes or no decision, but at least these the ones that don't make it have a place to go.
Presents. Did I mention there were presents?
And to end on a positive tone, I'd like to share a few sites I've been enjoying lately.
I Love Typography popped up a few months ago as a well-designed new type blog. It was an automatic add, but it's managed to keep me engaged with great material like font creation case studies. Then little while later I noticed Nice Web Type, which hasn't been updated much yet, but hits all the right buttons in terms of subject matter. One to watch anyway.
Two personal blogs that stood out this year are Ongoing and rc3. Both are written by programmers, both frequently dive into coding minutae I can't hope to follow, but both also cover much broader subject matter more frequently in literate and well-considered fashion.
And a brand new find (as a result of a link to Web Directions, if I remember correctly) is FAIRspot. Part blog, part gallery, part directory, it's kind of like CSS Beauty without the CSS part. Lots of great stuff coming through their RSS feed.