How Do I Take Advantage of the New Features in Internet Explorer 8

Overview of new and enhanced features of Windows Internet Explorer 8.

Introduction

Internet Explorer 8 is more standards compliant than any earlier version of Internet Explorer. This means that pages you have written to standards will work better with Internet Explorer 8. Cross-browser compatibility is much easier because you don't have to modify your pages as much to display on specific browsers.

Note  Even browsers that are standards-compliant will interpret some part of standards slightly differently. The Internet Explorer team has published the test cases used for testing Internet Explorer CSS compliance. You can use these test cases as samples for determining differences in the various browsers' interpretations of standards. Those test cases are located HERE World Wide Web link.

Internet Explorer 8 also adds some new end-user features that you can take advantage of on your sites. The new features are Web Slices, Accelerators, and Search Suggestions for Search Providers. Big improvements have been made to AJAX, JScript, and Developer Tools.

This article assumes that your site works well with Internet Explorer 8 and that you have decided against using the META tag to force rendering to the Internet Explorer 7 engine. If this is a problem for you, please see How Do I Fix My Site Today?. You should also consider using the Microsoft Application Compatibility Toolkit (ACT). If your site looks better in Internet Explorer 7 than in Internet Explorer 8, set the META tag and continue reading to see how you can take advantage of new and updated features of Internet Explorer 8.

For more information on all the new features for developers in Internet Explorer 8, see What's New in Internet Explorer 8.

CSS Support

Internet Explorer 8 fully supports CSS 2.1 and more of CSS 3. See CSS Overviews and Tutorials for a full history of CSS support in Internet Explorer, including Internet Explorer 8 support.

For more information, see CSS Improvements in Internet Explorer 8.

HTML and DOM Support

Internet Explorer 8 has improved support for HTML 4.01 and 5, also for DOM 2 and 3. Internet Explorer 8 also more strictly adheres to those standards. In terms of compatibility between Internet Explorer 7 and Internet Explorer 8, this area will cause you the most problems. Some objects you used with Internet Explorer 7 have changed to work according the various standards specifications. In other words, some methods, properties, and so on that worked in a non-standard way in Internet Explorer 7 now comply with standards in Internet Explorer 8.

Test your site in Internet Explorer 8 to look for problems caused by non-standard usage. For more information, see HTML Enhancements in Internet Explorer 8 and Standards Compliance Updates in Internet Explorer 8.

Better AJAX Support

Internet Explorer 8 more easily supports backward navigation of page fragments. It provides better communication between pages, frames, sites, and domains. JScript also now provides native JSON support. See the following pages for more information:

Developer Tools Built In

You may have used downloaded and used the Internet Explorer Developer Toolbar. This add-on was released at nearly the same time that Internet Explorer 7 was released. The toolbar's functionality has been incorporated into the browser, so there's no need for an additional installation. The Developer Tools have been greatly improved to include a debugger, a profiler, and more. When using Internet Explorer 8, press F12 and try it out. For more information, see Developer Tools User Interface Reference.

Accelerators

You can make your Web services available to users as Accelerators. Users can add Accelerators to Internet Explorer 8 and use them anywhere they browse. The user selects some text (for example, an address on a page) and can select an Accelerator for a mapping Web service to see the location. Accelerators offer a preview of results so users don't have to navigate away from the page they are looking at and disrupt the flow of their work.

Setting up a Web service as an Accelerator is easy. It requires an XML file, similar to a manifest file, on your server. There are also scripting methods for adding the Accelerator to Internet Explorer. Microsoft has set up a Gallery (http://ieaddons.com/) where you can make your Accelerators available.

For more information about Accelerators, see OpenService Accelerators Developer Guide.

Web Slices

Like an RSS feed, you can set up portions of your Web pages that contain frequently updated information as Web Slices for your users. Users subscribe to a Web Slice and can monitor changes without having to navigate back to the original page unless they want to see more information. Microsoft has set up a Gallery (http://ieaddons.com/) where you can advertise your Web Slices.

For example, news feeds, auctions, social networking updates, and weather updates are all good scenarios for Web Slices, but there are many more.

For more information about setting up a Web Slice, see Subscribing to Content with Web Slices.

Search Suggestions

Internet Explorer 8 has improved the search experience for end users. Many search engines offer search suggestions as users type. Search providers can offer the same service in Internet Explorer.

You can add your search engine as a search provider in the Internet Explorer Gallery (http://ieaddons.com/).

For more information about setting up search suggestions and search providers, see Search Provider Extensibility in Internet Explorer.

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