Designer Expert Chat Transcript (1/18/07)

We had a great chat today, thanks to everyone who came out, and to Chris, Markus, Alex and Dave who were our experts.  We had some great questions, and some really good tough questions. 

Here's the transcript from todays chat:


Answer: Topics can be anything to do with web design. Things like CSS, HTML, and the like are great.

Question: when the connect site be back up so we can see the bugs/features that didn't get fixed in ie7?

Answer: We're working on a better mechanism than the connect site for getting ongoing feedback from web developers. I don't think we will be reviving the Connect site from IE7, though the data is part of our planning.

Question: Can you answer questions about Sharepoint Designer?

Answer: not about Sharepoint Designer today...

Question: What are the IE team's priorities in terms of CSS 2 compliance? I'm very interested in the CSS table display declaration - this property treats HTML elements as table cells. It's supported by most other browsers. This display property reduces the need for tables, and would make CSS based design much easier.

Answer: Display table is a very common request. We are currently working through potential features for the next IE8 release and your input is highly appreciated. In general, we prioritize our feature set on customer demand to ensure that what's most useful to you will be available as quickly as possible. We also said that CSS compliance is one of our long term goals so you will definitely see improvements in the next release.

Question: Can you tell us about your plans for enhancing CSS tools?

Answer: Hi Joe, What sort of tools do you have in mind. We recently updated the Developer Toolbar see and Expression Web is a great tool for Designers

Question: What is the present (and future) fate of FrontPage? I've used it for 10 years and have lots of sites created with FP.

Answer: FrontPage is no longer available as part of the Microsoft Office suite. I'd highly recommend checking out Expression Web, which is available as a free trial (60 day trial), and at a great upgrade price for users of Front Page

Question: Questions… are they supposed to be connected with IE7, IE8 or rather general?

Answer: Any of the three.

Question: What tools is most preferred for web site design by a developer if a designer is not available?

Answer: Personally I love Expression Web There's a free trial available there. I'm not a Designer πŸ™‚

Question: will a transcript of todays chat be available?

Answer: Yes, we will get a transcript up. have a look at sometime later today, or tomorrow and we should have a link to it there.

Question: what are the most important things an web designer should know when he/she desings web pages?

Answer: This is a very open ennded question πŸ™‚ I think we are planning a web chat in the future to address design patters with IE7, so stay tuned...

Question: Is the Q&A of this "webcast" is going to be published somewhere for DL?

Answer: Yes, we'll be posting it at

Question: Hi guys, great work on IE7, I'm wondering if there's an easy way 2 create fully css rollout menus? All the sites I see offer only paid solutions.

Answer: I think Eric Meyer has some examples on his website. We did some improvements in IE7 to enable pure CSS menus (we implemented for example :hover on all elements for example).

Question: is there any way we can get our "favorite" bugs/feature list out of the connect site? i must say i thought it kind of suc.. stunk, but it did let me keep track of ones i was interested in that i'd like to remember for the next major release.

Answer: I'm afraid not - we don't have the database itself up anymore, the data got copied to an internal system.

Question: Can you hilite some differences in Expression Web and SP Designer?

Answer: Hey Nicole, we're not really spending much focus on Expression Web or SP Designer today. But a short answer is how they're designed for editing pages. Both have great HTML editing engines, but the features for publishing those are significantly different.

Question: re: css roll out menus. check out the past discussions of this from the css-d archives. it's brought up a lot on that list.

Answer: Great point, thanks!

Question: When you are designing a site, what is the best method to test if users will get a horizontal scroll bar in their browsers for various screen sizes/resolutions?

Answer: Hey Cliff, that's a great question. The best way to do that would be to installed the IE Developer Toolbar, and then use that to resize the IE window to different sizes. You can then see how your page/site will look in different sized windows.

Question: When will IE8 be released, and where can we make suggestions for this version?

Answer: We can't say exactly when IE8 will be released yet. Suggestions are very welcome along with a reason why the work is important so we can prioritise out work to implement the most improtant things to web developers first. You can make suggestions on the Team Blog at where we read all the comments.

Question: Is there a possiblity that we won't see hasLayout rendering in IE8?

Answer: HasLayout is an internal datastructure and should in theory not affect you. We did some major improvements in IE7 (for example we impleneted overflow: visible by default that should reduce the number of instances HasLayout matters to you.) We still have some issues with floats that we are looking into for the next release.

Question: Chris, can you talk some about your role with the W3C's new HTML working group and the future of HTML via IE

Answer: This is a plant, right? πŸ™‚ I was asked to be the initial chair for the new HTML WG, focused on evolving HTML 4.01/XHTML 1.1. I expect the work the WG does will bear a strategic resemblance to the WHAT-WG's "HTML5" efforts, but under a patent policy that will help (unfortunately not guarantee) the spec be free of IP restrictions. I wrote a couple of posts about my role in this on my blog -

Question: Am looking for an easy way to get rounded table corners; so far its too much work.

Answer: Hi Deep, take a look at the article at than may help for rounded corners.

Question: will any updates to ie7 include any extra css functionality/support? for example display table (already mentioned), :after/:before, etc.

Answer: We will not update rendering functionality in service packs or security updates - the first opportunity for adding functionality like display:table, generated content, etc. is the next version of IE.

Question: Is there a way to code an HTML page to open in a new tab?

Answer: There isn't a way to open a page in a new tab automatically. When the feature was designed, we decided to make tabs a something for the user to have access to, and that left some things out for developers. It's somethign we're aware of and looking at.

Question: How closely does IE7 render CSS compared to Firefox 2.0 and Opera?

Answer: Great question. I think no one really knows 100% since there is no official W3C test suit that covers all aspects of the spec. We made some significantimprovements in IE7 and hoping to continually improve. We are also working with the W3C to improve their test case coverage.

Question: re: rounded corners. this is brought up on the same css-d list a lot as well. might have some more (or different) answers.

Answer: good pointer. Thanks

Question: FYI, some incredible cross-browser CSS layouts are here:

Answer: Yes that is a great resource.

Question: Will IE ever pass the ACID test?

Answer: I expect that we will, given that I think most of the pieces of the ACID test that we don't pass are common requests from web developers.

Question: My sound won't work so I'm safe <smirk> - trying to think of a question...

Answer: we're not actually broadcasting sound... for your protection, really...

Question: About hte IE developer toolbar question re horizontal scrolling. I have a user base that uses two monitors. How do I test that when I cant get two monitors for myself ?

Answer: Thats a tough question. The best suggestion I would have would be to tell your boss you need a second monitor... But I'm guessing that isn't going to work. Most browsers users keep the browser window on one monitor. So I would try to set the monitor resolution to as close as you can....

Question: Is there an IE equivalent to Firefox's Firebug (Firebug is a web debugging tool that exposes CSS, Javascript, and the DOM through an intuitive UI)?

Answer: There is teh IE Developer toolbar see and script debugging solutions see and Fiddler We're lookign at improving the developer experience for this functionality in the future and welcome suggestions.

Question: Form select object and double byte languages. I've noticed in IE7 that select drop downs that use double byte character sets now only show squares in some instances. Any special encoding needed in IE7 (or default font setting changes) as compared to 6?

Answer: Can you get us a repro?

Question: re: post on blog for ie8 requests. is there any place where we can read what other people suggested all in one place, or do we need to search through all past comments to see if what we have in mind has already been suggested?

Answer: We're working on a better mechanism to allow tracking of feedback. See the response to the question about connect earlier.

Question: This might not be an "html or css" question, but are there any ways to send info to IE7's printer function. For example, to set margins, or choose header/footer info?

Answer: Actually, we follow the spec on text-decoration:blink; the spec says you don't need to actually blink, though you must parse and store the value (we do). Primarily because our users gave us a clear message about blinking text when Netscape introduced it. πŸ™‚

Question: Thanks, good links... πŸ™‚

Answer: You are welcome.

Question: what's a good way to test a site's css for Macs if you don't own a Mac?

Answer: There are a couple of sites (like browsercam) out there that will do screen grabs of your website for you using different browsers, but they won't test how your page interacts with the user on the Mac.

Question: IE7 introduces page zoom. This is the way Opera does it, but IE7 sometimes has problems with complicated css layouts. I wonder what pushed you to introduce this feature, in other words, why not stick to better text-size increase and support for relative text sizes (em)

Answer: The challenge is that if you only zoom text sizes, you will automatically break the author's page layout (since images and other sized elements on the page won't zoom). We do still have some work to do to improve zooming overall.

Question: - select a region drop down. Shows up fine in IE6, FireFox, Opera. In IE7 shows squares for double byte characters on half the systems tried.

Answer: Do you know if the systems where it is not showing correctly have any language packs installed?

Question: What are the challenges revolving around the ACID test? I know that only Opera passes at this point.

Answer: Which is no surprise given that is written by Hakon Liu who is CTO of Opera πŸ™‚ Seriously, the test has some very interessting and I might say non-main stream CSS tests in there. For IE7 we focused on CSS issues that really mattered to you and any webdev and make your daily work with IE much easier and predictable. What in ACIDII do you think should we prioritize for IE8 (givenChris ACIDII answer above)?

Question: quick note about zengarden - a lot of these layouts break if a user has a non-standard font size on their computer. be wary of using absolute positioning.

Answer: That is interesting. Can you post a pointer to a repro?

Question: For accessibility testing, I use Vision Austrailias Accessibility Toolbar It seems to me accessible site seem to be the most cross browser compatible. Am I safe assuming that?

Answer: It's always good practice to follow the accessiblility guidelines from the W3C. that may make it easier for cross browser but it certainly isn't a guarrantee.

Question: It's not so much the ACID test that concerns me, but that all browsers render the same. It's difficult to deal with multiple feature sets.

Answer: I totally agree with you. A W3C test suit will go a long way here. We are actively working with them to make progress there.

Question: Just what went in when IE6 was installed originally on the system. Update to IE7 get squares in dropdown. Revert to IE6 and drop down appears correctly. Doesn't happen on all upgrades though. Systems that had IE7 beta installed at some point in time seem to show the problem more frequently after installing the final IE7 release.

Answer: I'll have to follow up and see if the part of the team responsible is aware of any issues.

Question: Actually, we should design flexible pages rather than fixed and table-like. We can use em instead of px and we'll be able to scale parts of design. Look at 456bereastreet as a example. When I want to read something written in 9px in IE7 I zoom the page, but at some point (I like big fonts) design in beyond my screen

Answer: I completely agree, but I think in general zooming the page includes the other content as well as the text.

Question: reports a behaviour depending on height specification, never experienced in IE 6

Answer: We are aware of this problem, it is a change from IE6. We are looking at ways to fix it. It is worth noting that page-breaking, especieall inside tables and when empty elements are involved is not a precisely defined area just yet so we would ideally aim at gettin to a complete solution.

Question: Was anything done to IE7 to support AJAX that could be proprietary?

Answer: No. What exactly do you mean by proprietary? We did add native support for XMLHttprequest for interoperability with other browsers.

Question: No more questions from me. Keep up the great work, take care.

Answer: thanks Adam πŸ™‚

Question: What are your thoughts on using conditional comment tags to send different css to IE

Answer: I think it's a good idea, when you must give different stylesheets to IE.

Question: Here's a feature request for a future version of Visual Studio or the Expression products: I'd love to see some CSS templates built in to let users have the most common layouts (2-column with footer, 3-column with footer, etc.)

Answer: Thats a great idea!

Question: So any AJAX witten and testing in IE7 will work with our browsers?

Answer: I'm not sure texactly what you mean by "our browsers". There is more work that we need to do in the future to improve writing cross browser Ajax applicaitons. Many of the Ajax frameworks help a great deal here though.

Question: thank you for attention about page-break-before CSS element, just notice i had problem on a not-empty table with height specification

Answer: good to know it is in fact the case I was referring to

Question: Whole page zoom: We should be able to constrain page dimensions with max and min-width. Zoom disallows us to utilize fragments of CSS specs which focus on this matter. Zooming is just easy.

Answer: I agree - this is the work we need to do in IE.Next on making zoom better.

Question: re: css zen garden. this one chops text off if the text is too large:

Answer: Can you please repose the page? Somehow I get a page not found error

Question: i'll send you each $10 if you turn on audio and have chris sing

Answer: I'm being coerced by all my coworkers to accept this offer...

Question: XMLHttpRequest - Geko 1.9 looks to be introducing cross-domain support. Any plans to allow cross domain XMLHttpRequest in IE?

Answer: There are some significant and very real security issues with cross domain access. It is certainly something we are looking at as we understand how this is important.

Question: Is there an add-on or other support to be able to watch headers and post data go between client and server?

Answer: Fiddler!

Question: I had asked about the printing styles... and the answer was for a diff question (blinking). Are there any ways to pass layout info to the printing function of IE7... like setting margins? I find IE7 consistently changes the way I want my page to print.

Answer: We support @media rules for print so you can set different content margins when printing. @page rules that set page margins are not always applied.

Question: Here's a feature request for a future version of Visual Studio or the Expression products: I'd love to see some CSS templates built in to let users have the most common layouts (2-column with footer, 3-column with footer, etc.).

Answer: Thats a great idea Alex! We're actually working on that right now, though not for VS specifically, but we'll post them on the IE Developer Center ( That way, we can get them out soon (next few months). Where as Orcas is still a good ways off.

Question: πŸ˜€ Also gives you header details

Answer: well there you go. πŸ™‚

Question: it's late in italy now, where can i find a report of the discussion tomorrow?

Answer: The web chat transcript will be posted tomorrow or even later today on the IE Developer Center ( or at

Question: $20 if you can get him to sing a sappy love song. >:]

Answer: Just like MEEEE...they long to BEEEE... CLOSE to you...

Question: Personally, I like Firefox and Maxthon because of its ad blocker capabilities. Has Microsoft thought to include this in IE?

Answer: There are several solutions out there, even CSS solutions which can be used with IE. We currently have no plans to add it natively to IE

Question: IE8 ... WebForms?

Answer: Let's get the webforms stuff into HTML first. πŸ™‚

Question: The templates would help because this past week I've been trying to implement a 2-column pure CSS layout with the footer always at the bottom of the page, and it just about drove me crazy. There are examples on the web of some of those requirements but few cover all of them. So the templates will be lifesavers.

Answer: Alex, there are a bunch available right now at which is on the ASP.NET site, and we'll be adding our own on the IE Dev center soon

Question: What online primer on CSS do you reccomend? I need to learn enough to catch-up.

Answer: There are several good solutions out there: I like AlistApart to start off with. Also there are great books out there, for example Molly Holzschlag's books

Question: Can you tell IE7 not to "fit to margins"? That is, no auto-zoom?

Answer: if you are referring to "srhink-to-fit" when printing it is only available to end user currently. they can change it from print setup or print preview. There isn't a way to control that from the web page

Question: I didn't know about the templates on MSDN! Thanks! Also, when you guys implement the feature, can you make them wizard driven? Users could customize parts of the templates (add background images, change fonts, etc.)

Answer: Interesting idea. The ones that are up there today, and will be coming already have images that you'll be able to replace, and they should have documentation about how to implement them... so not quite wizard driven, but close

Question: re: css zen garden. the style is called "lily pad" and is linked to (today at least) from the front page. link again:

Answer: thanks for reporting. I will take a look at it

Question: This might not be the right group to ask. But are there css "templates" that can be used in Sharepoint

Answer: Hey Vijay, Sharepoint allows support for custom aspx pages, so you could grab the ones at and use that. I'll also forward this request to the sharepoint team too!

Question: I mean... list somewhere of css styles 'fixed' or added in IE7 over IE6?

Answer: Take a look at the post at

Question: Are the ASP.NET 2.0 controls CSS based? I've used many and they seem to emit tables for the most part. That makes sense for gridviews and tabular data, though.

Answer: By default, no they aren't CSS based. BUT there is a CSS Toolkit that will over ride the code emited by the controls so they emit pure CSS... Check out

Question: There are many CSS3 parts that describe rich visual web pages - like gradients, shadows, opacity and rounded corners. IE uses DirectX filters, but have you thought about dropping support for them in Standards Compilance Mode and use propertiary CSS3 for this?

Answer: Let us finish CSS 2.1 first (just kidding). Seriously, we realise how appealing gradients, shadows etc. are especially for the web design community (that's why we introduced Filters in IE4-5) and we love to hear your input on which one are the most important components to you in regards of cross browser behavior.

Question: the page isn't breaking in ie due to any ie thing wrong. the breakage is simply because the stylist used some not-great css coding. that's all i was saying, was to be careful what you use from css zen garden because those layouts are supposed to look great, not work great. (i'm not hating on css zen garden - it's a great site, i'm just saying be careful what you copy from there.)

Answer: great point.

Question: <slips alex $10 under the table>

Answer: πŸ™‚

Question: The address bar at the top of ie .. WHY have you fixed it there... there are hacks but i don't like using them... why fix it there? Will you change it allow us to move it?

Answer: The address bar is now in a consistent place for all users. This is to reduce the ability for web sites to spoof users. We've heard the feedback that some people don't like it πŸ™‚

Question: The most important component is opacity. Opera, Fx, Safari have it. IE uses alpha filter, but as we know, filters work only on things with hasLayout. Many Web2.0 applications use opacity, make their authors happy πŸ™‚

Answer: Great feedback. thanks

Question: I love this discussion -- anything that gets folks to use CSS instead of tables! A quick request, can you guys outline the benefits of css over table layouts -- just in case some developers need to justify it to their managers? Thanks πŸ™‚

Answer: The main point is accessibility and speed. Don't get me wrong tables have their uses if you use them for what they have been intended for (tabular data).

Question: Are there good sites that example css that "works great"?

Answer: Just check out CSSZEnGarden

Question: I'm very curious about IE8 as you can see. You were talking about writing XML parser rather than hacking existing SGML parser - the reason why IE7 doesn't support application/xml. Are you working on that for next IE? πŸ™‚

Answer: We are certainly looking at fully support XML (parser and DOM) for the future; no commitment yet on which release.

Question: hates-the-fixedness-of-the-toolbars++;

Answer: We've heard the feedback πŸ™‚

Question: AJAX tends to muck with a user's perception of what the refresh and back buttons should do. Does the IE team have any suggestions about this?

Answer: Hey James. Great question, we'll be having a web developer chat in the nearfuture and that's where I'd recommend askign this question.

Question: Do you have a link for that chat?

Answer: No not yet. We scheduled the first few events to see how they'd go, and we've had fantastic response. We're also moving out of LiveMeeting for chats to a better chat environment, so we don't have a link ot those yet... Keep an eye on

Question: Ha ha... we just discussed that CSS Zen Garden 'looks great', but doesn't show the greatest code at times. Are there sites that display 'good' CSS to allow for... larger text sizes.. browser sizes, etc?

Answer: Sorry I misunderstood your question. I would recommend reading Jeffrey Zeldman's CSS books. He has some great real world sites and their benefits in them. Big sites like Yahoo etc.invest heavily in CSS

Question: What are some crucial web design points we should walk away with from this discussion?

Answer: Simplicity is bliss

Question: Do you know of a tool or sample VBScript for applying XPath expressions to XML while viewing the XML? I am looking for cheap ways to test my XML before putting it on a web site.

Answer: We don't know of anything. Maybe someone else out there can help. It may help if you explain what you are trying to test for what in more detail.

Question: I'm a newbie so hopefully this isn't a stupid question. Can you give more info/examples on using CSS instead of tables?

Answer: Not stupid at all. I would highly recommend reading books form Molly Holzschlag, Jeff Zeldman. they greatly describe the pro and cons and how you can redisign your page for it

Question: Thanks for all the good info!

Answer: you're welcome, see you next time!

Question: Re: Simplicity is bliss" You are preachin' to the choir. Now if we could just get our congregation to bless it. . .

Answer: πŸ™‚

Question: Can you elaborate on "Simplicity is bliss"?

Answer: It pretty much means try to find the simplest soolution to your problem. The more "bling" you introduce the more risk you have it will not work cross browser

Question: What is the latest version of CSS? Which version does IE 6 and 7 support?

Answer: the latest "Recommendation" of CSS are CSS1 and CSS2. Realistically, the web is stearing to CSS2.1 but the spec is not finalized yet.. CSS3 is still in draft phase

Question: Chris, what happened with the recording of Internet Explorer 7, An Overview. When I launched it, it was about 60 seconds of intro only

Answer: sadly that was lost. we're trying to find some kind of replacement

Comments (1)
  1. PeteL's Blog says:

    I want to thank everyone who came attended today’s chat, we had a great turn out this morning! It’s a

Comments are closed.

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