TODO: Internet Explorer 8

Michael Schwarz on Monday, September 1, 2008

I will collect some of my thoughts about the current beta 2 of Internet Explorer 8 [1] I have noticed during IE8 community roundtable [2] last week:

<strong>Address Bar and Searching</strong>

Since months I’m using a great Firefox feature that I still miss in Internet Explorer 8 (beta 2): the searchable address bar. With the current beta of Internet Explorer Microsoft introduce several groups inside the auto-complete suggestion [3]. The entered text will now be searched in the history, in your favorites, feeds,... and using your registered search providers. With last Internet Explorer versions it was only possible to have something like an autocomplete for the URLs you have visited.

Well, to come to the first todo: if you have visited Google Maps and searched for any location the title of the current window will i.e. include the name of the city. Other Web applications that are using AJAX or any other technology to update page content without refreshing changing the document title to help the Web user knowing what they have opened. With IE8 it is not possible to search inside this title that is not set using the <title/> tag. This is very important in today’s Web 2 Web applications.

Another thing that is not working as expected is if you have visited Microsoft At Home [4] and clicked on the left link to Product Information [5] you want to enter "Product Information" later to find the visited page again. This is not working.

Something I have do enter very often are Web sites with a different port (instead of default port 80). If you put in mydomain:8080 in the address bar and hit enter you’ll get a notice "The webpage cannot be displayed". It doesn’t matter if you are using port 8080 or 80, it is only the missing http:// at the beginning. I would be very happy to have this.

And I would like to have a address bar like Windows Vista explorer [6] that is using sitemaps to faster switch to different Web site sections.

View HTML Source Code

Microsoft has spend Internet Explorer 8 a new source viewer. It includes coloring of tags, attributes and shows line numbering on the left side. The first time I opened it was to have a look at the closing <body/> tag, but Ctrl + End didn’t work. The arrow keys are working, but Page Down/Up are not working, too. Another thing I noticed is that it needs longer to open than notepad.exe (which I would then still prefer if it doesn’t change until release candiate).

Script Error Dialog

I’m very happy that there is a new dialog appearing when an script error occurs. You have the option to copy details to clipboard to send those information i.e. to the Web master of the site. If using the clipboard feature it should be always using English to describe the error message. I cannot read and understand nearly everything excluding English, German and maybe some French.

Another option that should be helpful there (not only for Web developers) would be a checkbox to disable script errors for a domain. There are a lot of Web sites on the Net that are old or not tested in common Web browsers. Visiting those Web sites as a Web developer with "Show script errors" enabled makes you crazy.

At the IE 8 community roundtable I was talking about a feature where a Web master (or Web developer) can register at Microsoft or a third-party company to receive automatically script errors from there own domains (like a DrWeb instead of DrWatson for Windows). That would help Web developers to fix script errors they don’t get during own tests.

InPrivate Mode (Web Slices and Favorites)

I know many Web users that are happy about the InPrivate mode. Well, I hope that there is never an option in Internet Explorer to make this the default behavior. When in InPrivate mode Favorites and Web Slices don’t make any sense – or do you want to hide your history and same the URLs in the favorites? If you have installed a Webmailer Web Slice that is checking your inbox you’ll get an indicator that there is a new mail, but when you click on the inbox link right inside the Web Slice you will get your login form as InPrivate mode didn’t use the cookies from the default mode. I will expect some Web users calling me to report an error on my Web site.

<strong>Internet Options (about:config)</strong>

More and more Internet Options are added to Internet Explorer 8, more and more that you’ll not find any more. The Advanced –> Settings list is too large. Why not moving the Internet Options to a about:config page that is able to use colors, icons and some help texts?

What I’m missing there, too, is a feature to store all Internet Explorer 8 settings in a file i.e. for backup while playing with options or to exchange with others. You know that I have something like a scripting engine in Internet Explorer 8 [7] that lets you change settings before/after requests are done.

<strong>Enabling ActiveX/Downloads without Refresh</strong>

Web sites are using ActiveX components that are currently disabled, others are trying to download files. Both scenarios are ending in the yellow information bar telling you what to do next. If you enable the feature the page gets reloaded every time. I would be happy if this could be fixed and the same (already existing HTML code) would be used instead. There are some Web sites that are not able to offer the download twice. The Microsoft Connect is working not very user friendly, too, when downloading files and not put the Connect domain in the secure domain list.

Session Cookies (here: closing Tabs)

Everybody knows the XSS bugs we have found in the past. Web sites are trying to access other Web sites where the user has been authenticated before. What I would like to have is a feature where closing a tab will remove all session cookies that this tab has been created. An example: you open Google Mail, login with your username/password. Some minutes later you have opened three new tabs where you are reading some articles. Now, you close the Google Mail tab and open an evil Web page that is requesting a Google Mail URL (well, first there must be a security lack in Google Mail that allows this, but we had enough of this in the past) . I know that it is not easy to handle all the session information, but as there are every time people around the world that are trying those evil tricks it could be a security option.