The latest version of Internet Explorer 8, released two weeks ago, will offer developers a whole new set of tools said IE program manager Travis Leithead.
Leithead was speaking at ReMix 08, Microsoft's event for web developers and designers in Brighton. While much attention on IE has focused on the user experience, not least the privacy aspect, Leithead said that there were a lot of new features for developers to get excited about.
He highlighted compatibility view where a developer is able to quickly assess how a site would look in other versions of the browser. There are two ways to look at the site: Browser Mode allows a developers to test what their site looks like in IE7, but still using IE8. There's also an alternative way to view, Document Mode, which allows developers to check what a site would look like if the rendering was changed.
Leithead picked out other features too. He said that the IE8 beta now allowed live CSS editing. "We're delivering full CSS 2.1 interoperability and we're looking forward to CSS 3," he said.
He also picked on the ability to change AJAX navigation allowing users to pinpoint exact web pages. "For example, suppose you want to pick out a place on a map and you put your pin on the map to show the exact location and send it to someone. When that person opens the link, all they find is the home page. We're allowing developers to solve this problem within AJAX," he said.
Leithead gave a brief summary of various other new features including client-side storage, support for ARIA usability spec and various tweaks to fix memory leaks and speed up processing time. He also explained that IE8 beta 2 contains additional protection for cross-domain requests. "Most browsers block cross domain requests to prevent malicious code, there are workarounds but these can be costly and dangerous." He said that the new version of the beta would have various new ways to allow cross-domain requests safely including HTML sanitation would take a string and strip out anything that was executable in it.
The full version of IE 8 is expected to be released later this year. Competition in the browser market is set to intensify with the launch of Google's Chrome and the forthcoming release of Firefox 3.1.