IE 8: On the Path to Web Standards Compliance - ACID 2 Test Pass Complete

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The IE team has been very hard at work on IE 8 for the past several months and they hit a huge milestone last Friday evening. The IE dev team checked in a bunch of code that included several new features implemented in the core rendering engine that enable IE to pass the ACID 2 test! This is great news for web developers: IE 8 is going to be our most standards compliant browser to date. Passing ACID 2 is really a combined side effect of all the new features that have been developed for IE 8.

In this interview, I sit down with IE GM Dean Hachamovitch and Architect Chris Wilson to discuss this milestone and dig into compliance in general, lessons learned from IE 7 and discuss the IE team's ultimate goal of de facto interoperability. Of course, no Channel 9 interview is complete without meeting some of the devs who actually write technology so we take a walk from Dean's office to super developer Alex Mogilevsky's office to discuss what's been done to provide IE with the core rendering features that enable IE 8 to pass the ACID 2 test. We also chat with CSS guru Markus Mielke who was instrumental in identifying and planning the feature set required to pass ACID 2.

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    The Discussion

    • User profile image
      Bas
      Holy CSS compliance batman! That's fantastic!
    • User profile image
      esoteric
      Nice! Kudos to the IE team. Downloading...
    • User profile image
      Charles
      W3bbo wrote:
      This needs a "Digg this" link


      Go ahead and Digg it, man! The link you speak of will be in the next version of C9.
      C
    • User profile image
      W3bbo
    • User profile image
      Bas
      Oh, and Charles: my wish is more than granted. It's a Christmas miracle!

      Thanks man!
    • User profile image
      Zeo
      W3bbo. You beat me to digging it! Nice Job. Big Smile
    • User profile image
      ktr
      Charles, you are awesome. Thank you IE team! CSS Compliance is all important! three cheers!
    • User profile image
      Ion Todirel
      wow, this is incredible for two reasons, first is posted on C9, i love you Charles, and this is an awesone news, rock on
    • User profile image
      W3bbo
      CompGuy101 wrote:
      Didn't Microsoft publicly say that the Acid2 test wasn't one of their primary focuses?


      For IE7, they remained tight-lipped about IE8.
    • User profile image
      ChrisWilson
      CompGuy101:  yes, I (Chris Wilson, IE platform architect) did say that passing Acid2 was not a priority for IE7:  http://blogs.msdn.com/ie/archive/2005/07/29/445242.aspx.  However, that was IE7, and our standards work for IE8 is a bit more ambitious.  Smiley
    • User profile image
      stun

      Will IE8 pass the ACID2 test if we change the default font from Times New Roman to Cambria?


      I tried changing the default font to Cambria on Firefox 3 Beta and Opera.
      Firefox 3 renders it a bit off and incorrect.
      Opera seems to be rendering it properly.


      See pictures below.
      1) Firefox 3 Beta 2 Fails ACID2 test
      2) Opera 9.5 Beta Passes ACID2 test

    • User profile image
      Bas
      CompGuy101 wrote:
      Didn't Microsoft publicly say that the Acid2 test wasn't one of their primary focuses?


      In fact, Alex is saying the same thing in this video: "Passing the test is not something we build the project around. We build the project around implementing important features in a standards compliant way, and when we do it, the test just happened."

      So as far as I understand it, more standards compliance is a focus for IE8. The test, as is its purpose, just points out that they succeeded at the compliance.
    • User profile image
      Charles
      Ion Todirel wrote:
      wow, this is incredible for two reasons, first is posted on C9, i love you Charles, and this is an awesone news, rock on


      Thanks, man! The IE team were more than encouraging when it came to doing a C9 interview. You will see more of these in the future and we'll go a bit deeper into the technical side of things as well.

      Dean and Chris are big C9 fans!

      Thanks again, guys. Always great to chat with you.
      C
    • User profile image
      Zeus
      My god .... "svo bregðast sem önnur tré" as we say in Icelandic ... dare you to translate Wink
    • User profile image
      Charles
      Bas wrote:
      
      CompGuy101 wrote:
      Didn't Microsoft publicly say that the Acid2 test wasn't one of their primary focuses?


      In fact, Alex is saying the same thing in this video: "Passing the test is not something we build the project around. We build the project around implementing important features in a standards compliant way, and when we do it, the test just happened."

      So as far as I understand it, more standards compliance is a focus for IE8. The test, as is its purpose, just points out that they succeeded at the compliance.


      You are correct! Passing ACID2 is a (pleasant) side effect of the substantial IE 8 feature work and IE team's heavy investment in compliance (interoperability), generally.
      C
    • User profile image
      vesuvius
      C-ri-key!
    • User profile image
      zian

      Wohoo! This is the first time I wish we had a party icon on C9. Big Smile

    • User profile image
      W3bbo
      zian wrote:
      

      Wohoo! This is the first time I wish we had a party icon on C9.



      We just got Frontpage'd on Digg! Big Smile
    • User profile image
      Koogle
      I'm still downloading the video so haven't watched it, but from reading the ie blog post  ...  this definitely looks like some good progress Smiley
    • User profile image
      DCMonkey
      W3bbo wrote:
      
      zian wrote:
      

      Wohoo! This is the first time I wish we had a party icon on C9.



      We just got Frontpage'd on Digg!


      W3bboW3bbo made popular 16 min ago

      Cool

      Congrats IE8 team! (and w3bbo too)
    • User profile image
      evildictait​or
      The truly amazing thing is the comments on digg about Internet Explorer have practically no Microsoft or IE-bashing for this post.

      Seems that this was a good job well done by MSFT.
    • User profile image
      alexmog
      stun wrote:
      

      Will IE8 pass the ACID2 test if we change the default font from Times New Roman to Cambria?



      Yes.

      I know a lot about ACID2 by now Cool, there isn't anything there that would depend on choice of font...

      Thanks all for encouraging comments!
      Alex

    • User profile image
      blearghhh
      evildictaitor wrote:
      The truly amazing thing is the comments on digg about Internet Explorer have practically no Microsoft or IE-bashing for this post.

      Seems that this was a good job well done by MSFT.


      That's not amazing.  Amazing would be if that happened on slashdot.

      This is...  Interesting
    • User profile image
      intelman
      Honestly right now, I'm more interested in IE's rendering performance, because IE7 is quite a bit slower than IE6, and even slower than Firefox or Opera. I can't wait till a beta!
    • User profile image
      Jug
      This is of course a great step forward, although I would also like to remind people in that there's still more to CSS than ACID2.
    • User profile image
      esoteric
      I'm also interested in the rendering performance. A later "going deep" interview about the "under the covers" improvements and architechture would indeed be interesting. But so far so good, Acid2 is a great milestone to pass, seing how much emphasis has been put on it by various parties.
    • User profile image
      jdawgnoonan
      You guys finally care!  Too bad that you had to be forced to.

      However, in the end this is good.
    • User profile image
      Refrax
      i hope they port the CSS back to IE 6 and 7 as an update.
    • User profile image
      Sven Groot

      Kudos, guys, really. This is a very important step in getting IE up to spec with other browsers.

      Keep up the good work!

    • User profile image
      Cyonix
      Very cool! Well done guys
    • User profile image
      war59312
      Excellent, job well done!!!

      This is a huge deal, so please don't screw it up by making IE 8 only for Vista and Server 2008.

      Microsoft better support XP at the least or people are going to hate you even more!!
    • User profile image
      RichardRudek
      creditcard wrote:
      

      So um, how about a release?

      If IE8 releases before Firefox 3 you can deliver a fatal blow to Firefox standards complience claims.



      I think I'd prefer that it was done right, rather than release early, just to start a fight... Wink
    • User profile image
      LaBomba
      I guess BillG knocked on your guy's door to ask "WTH, is going on?"..Smiley

      Not too shabby.
    • User profile image
      someone

      Congrats to the IE team. I've 1000+ rants and bug reports but I don't want to discourage you right now. Btw, if:

      "We’re building IE8 for many different customers (consumers, web service providers, independent software vendors, enterprises, web developers, and others." then how about also building IE8 for media and print/photo professionals and including JPEG 2000, HD Photo, SVG, APNG and ICCv4 color management support and A-V tags, opacity: value; etc?

      I hope the IE does not forget over time that "Acid2, is by no means a complete measure of CSS standards support and CSS is not the only standard. In fact, many IE issues are not CSS-related."

      And btw, if you don't continue to release IE9,10,11 for XP, forget it. I'll still be pissed off. Because Opera 9 also runs on Windows 95 and MS should make a browser independent of their beloved OS. It is not just your duty to support Windows XP, people won't care about IE and use some other browser, its share will increase if you don't keep supporting XP even when Windows 7 or 8 comes out.

      And I second a public bug-tracking system. And "third" a ""Fix the "Operation Aborted" JS DOM error.""

      And as a punishment to MS for not supporting standards for sooooo long, I probably won't switch to IE8 if all is supports is just Acid2 compliance...maybe IE9 raises the standards compliance to 98% +, then I'll surely consider.

      Lastly, I expect IE8 to be performant enough, definitely not cause as much speed lag as IE6=>7 transition.

    • User profile image
      websnarf
      Bas wrote:
      
      CompGuy101 wrote:
      Didn't Microsoft publicly say that the Acid2 test wasn't one of their primary focuses?
      In fact, Alex is saying the same thing in this video: "Passing the test is not something we build the project around. We build the project around implementing important features in a standards compliant way, and when we do it, the test just happened."

      So as far as I understand it, more standards compliance is a focus for IE8. The test, as is its purpose, just points out that they succeeded at the compliance.


      Nobody will make content until browsers support the features, and browser vendors will not make the features unless they know developers are prepared to use them.

      The Acid2 test is an egg in this "chicken and the egg" scenario.  It gets a lot of play and is touted by MS's competitors as proof that they are looking forward while MS is not.  The downplaying of the importance of this test, while making a video talking specifically around the event of being able to run the test for the first time (in the default font)? ... it seems like there is a lot of kool aid being drunk here.

      But they are caught between a rock and a hard place.  The work of CSS and these sorts of tests obviously owes a tremendous amount to Opera's leadership, followed by Firefox's momentum.  To admit that this test is important would be to conceed that they are playing catch up to the real leaders (who pass the test without showing off 400 pages of dead trees) and that they actually *owe* them for setting their direction.
    • User profile image
      xaml

      esoteric wrote:
      Nice! Kudos to the IE team. Downloading...


      Good point.. where's the download link?

      No seriously!

      Wink Embarassed Perplexed

    • User profile image
      vesuvius
      xaml wrote:
      

      esoteric wrote:
      Nice! Kudos to the IE team. Downloading...


      Good point.. where's the download link?

      No seriously!



      Here it is. Just 'save link as....'

      The key word is interoperability never mind acid. I guess the significant difficulty in being standards compliant, is that you have to be innovative along the way. The 'feature' added in 1998 is still being ruminated by WC3. Reminds of a thread where the user said effecting change at WC3 is like planting grass in a desert. It doesn't happen oft.
    • User profile image
      glebd
      While this is in itself very good news, there is a worrying phrase in the announcement. IE8 passes Acid2 test *in IE8 Standards mode*. This _may_ mean there is another mode that doesn't render Acid2 correctly and must be some sort of compatibility mode. I appreciate the need for such mode in MSIE, but only as long as it is not set as the default upon release of MSIE8.
    • User profile image
      aL_
      it amazes me how poorly some people seem to be able to read/understand english. i sometimes wonder if people intentionally missunderstands information from microsoft jut to be able to whine and (I need to watch my language) about it. just to set things strait:

      micosoft said the acid2 test wasnt a priority for IE7, ie8 is another story

      the standards mode is something you set in the doctype had has has been around for ever.


      keep up the good work ie team and thank you charles for another great interview.


    • User profile image
      Usagi
      a mac version is coming soon?
    • User profile image
      deegae
      sweet!  kudos to the team for the work that they've put in.
    • User profile image
      jsampsonPC
      Terrific job IE8 team! Terrific! I don't think I've ever seen such high praise come from the c9 community in response to a single video in the past. Excellent work Charles!

      Merry Christmas,

      Jonathan Sampson

      (This is indeed a true Christmas gift for us web-developers!)
    • User profile image
      amtiskaw
      Congratulations guys, as a web developer this is great news to hear. Some points I'd like to make:

      While I have sympathy for the problems you discussed regarding maintaining compatibility with older versions of IE, I should hardly need to point out that they are much of you own making Wink If these features had been implemented correctly in the first place then the problem would not exist. I don't say this to attack you, but to suggest that it is better not to implement a feature at all than to implement it incorrectly, or to implement it before the "correct" behaviour has been absolutely defined. Therefore, I was very glad to hear you mention that you work with the standards groups and (particularly) the other browser vendors to resolve omissions and ambiguities in the specs. I've spoken with colleagues in the past about how I wouldn't care if IE didn't implement features X, Y and Z, because right from the bat I'd just plan my content around a subset A, B and C that were supported in all my target browsers. It's when I start off believing I can use features X, Y and Z in all browsers, then run into problems half way through development because of subtle incompatibilities, that problems really arise. It's then that I have to start chasing round bug reports on obscure blogs, adding browser specific hacks, and my estimates start slipping.

      I'd also be interested in later communications from the team to hear what is your opinion on the future of the web in terms of standards, and as an application platform? For example, what is your stance on XHTML V2 vs HTML 5? What do you think of CSS 3.0? You talked in this video about the addition and standardisation of XmlHttpRequest, but it seems like there's been less innovation of this sort in the last few years. The only major example I can think of has been the addition of the Canvas tag in some browsers (and now into HTML 5, I believe). I guess the problem is that if individual browsers, particularly IE, start adding features unilaterally, then they are screamed at for introducing proprietary extensions, but if everything is done via standards bodies then it could well be a glacial design-by-committee process. What are your thoughts on this? Do you see a greater roll for more ad-hoc groups like WHATWG, where a smaller group of vendors can more swiftly spec a new approach and then pass it to the WC3 for standardisation? Do you foresee greater cooperation with Mozilla, Apple, etc, in the future?

      It seems like from a political point of view, Microsoft is ambivalent at best regarding the web as an application platform. On the one hand  you're producing great stuff like ASP.NET 2, the AJAX toolkit, Microsoft Expression, etc, but on the other you mothballed IE for a long time, and you don't seem too active in really pushing to advance the web beyond its current limitations. AJAX is all very well, but it's basically just squeezing the last drops out of technology that's almost a decade old. My cynical side would say that you're reluctant to enhance the web too far, for fear of letting web applications compete too closely with the desktop. That you want to stabilise HTML + CSS as a fancy document language, but to only deliver app capability via things like Silverlight and .NET that you have greater control over. Or am I just being paranoid? Wink
    • User profile image
      stun
      alexmog wrote:
      
      stun wrote:
      

      Will IE8 pass the ACID2 test if we change the default font from Times New Roman to Cambria?

      Yes.

      I know a lot about ACID2 by now , there isn't anything there that would depend on choice of font...

      Thanks all for encouraging comments!
      Alex

      Thanks Alex! This makes me very happy to get confirmation that it will pass ACID2 across other Serif type fonts.

      That will make the web pages a lot more beautiful and pleasing to read.
      Congratulations and great work on this major milestone Smiley.
    • User profile image
      LightRider
      Congratulations IE team! Good news. I hope to hear more great annoucements going forward.
    • User profile image
      earnshaw
      So, Web sites written for standards-compliant IE8 will run very well on standards-compliant Brand X browsers as well?  That's unheard of!  Practically the end of the Soviet era as we know it.
    • User profile image
      Bas
      alexmog wrote:
       I know a lot about ACID2 by now , there isn't anything there that would depend on choice of font...


      I wonder then why Firefox 3 Beta 2 fails when you change the font. Did they use dirty hacks? Tongue Out


    • User profile image
      Dodo
      Siyavash wrote:
      Now, make me a REAL password manager and a REAL cookie manager ( Deny cookies until I CHOOSE to accept [optional ofcourse] ) and REAL "Customize each site:javascript/pluginst enabled/disabled, cookies etc" like Opera...

      ...and I'll switch back to IE!
      You have the site zones, where you can restrict sites access and add them to a list, you can also define a default rule, too.
      Except for the password manager (which would require starting regedit as a service with taskplaner) it's better than in Firefox. Smiley
    • User profile image
      rogergordon
      I registered on this site just to say congratulations and thank you very much for this. This will make MANY developers across the world very happy indeed. Thanks for your hard work!!!!
    • User profile image
      ebegoli
      Fantastic and very (professionally) exciting news for all web developers.

      When can we expect alpha, beta ...?
    • User profile image
      littleguru
      I'm thrilled!! Way to go Smiley Nice work, IE team!
    • User profile image
      marius.fanu
      It's stange that IE get ACID 2 Test work only for IE8 while it already works for Safari 3 Beta, and Opera 9.5 Beta... the strangest part of this is that it doesn't work on IE7 (almoust all people) or on Firefox 2.0.0.11. How is that the more used browsers doesn't have support for the ACID2 tests...

      Anyway good job with the IE8 and keep it that way... (good Tongue Out)

      Hope the performance of rendering will be improved...
    • User profile image
      brwalias
      Kudos to the dev team! Big Smile
    • User profile image
      vshamanovsky
      Would love to get my hands on this baby! Is it available anywhere yet ????
    • User profile image
      Yankee
      Damn, hen it comes to browsers... all the topics are "IE vs FF" Smiley
      Don't know about others, but I'm happy with IE and I'm glad that it respects the standards. I had no problems with IE.

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