I just read some fairly encouraging news on the Internet Explorer blog. They have a new entry up titled Standards and CSS in IE that details the changes they have / will be making to IE in the 7.0 release that will help to improve IE’s standards support. Some of the key items listed include fixes for:

# Peekaboo bug
# Guillotine bug
# Duplicate Character bug
# Border Chaos
# No Scroll bug
# 3 Pixel Text Jog
# Magic Creeping Text bug
# Bottom Margin bug on Hover
# Losing the ability to highlight text under the top border
# IE/Win Line-height bug
# Double Float Margin Bug
# Quirky Percentages in IE
# Duplicate indent
# Moving viewport scrollbar outside HTML borders
# 1 px border style
# Disappearing List-background
# Fix width:auto

And support for some of these HTML doodads:

# HTML 4.01 ABBR tag
# Improved (though not yet perfect) fallback
# CSS 2.1 Selector support (child, adjacent, attribute, first-child etc.)
# CSS 2.1 Fixed positioning
# Alpha channel in PNG images
# Fix :hover on all elements
# Background-attachment: fixed on all elements not just body

All of these should simplify the process greatly of creating CSS based web sites, but the question I have is….when will this help. First IE7 will have to be released, then it’ll take a while for people to actually go ahead and download it. As web developers we’ve been supporting old web browsers such as IE 5.5 for years, despite the fact that IE 6 has been around for so long. So while this is a great step and will certainly help to simplify development of web sites catering to the latest browsers, it won’t help for the others. Also of note…IE 7 will be available for Windows XP and Vista (formerly known as Longhorn), but not for Windows 2000. This may hold back a lot of corporate users as many haven’t had a compelling reason to upgrade to XP.

While I’m typically in full support of the adherance to standards, I must say that some of the w3c standards around CSS and HTML are quite unusual. The key one, that is so central to developing any CSS based site, is the box model. Man that’s a weird one. A box is 100 pixels wide and has 10 pixels of padding on the left and right – how wide is it? 120 pixels. I thought we said it was 100 pixels wide? Yeah, whatever. For most cases you can use the awkward w3c model (while brushing up on your highschool algebra), but certain scenarios make it quite nasty. How do I make a box that spans half the width of the page and has 10 pixel borders on the left and right? Without nested all sorts of useless markup, I don’t know.

Enough rambling!