oreilly.comSafari Books Online.Conferences.


AddThis Social Bookmark Button

IE5 Is Quantum Leap for Mac Browsers
Pages: 1, 2, 3

New Features

Scrapbook: Now can you take a completely functional "snapshot" of a web page -- that includes graphics, text, and links -- and save it for later viewing (even offline). The Scrapbook is a souped up in-browser interface for organizing and viewing Web Archives, something (but not exactly)like the Save format that has been available to Mac users since Internet Explore 4.x. However, using the Scrapbook is much more elegant that a simple Web Archive. The Scrapbook allows you to:

  • Save an entire web page by simply dragging and dropping into the Scrapbook.
  • Preserves the page appearance content even if it changes at a later date.
  • Includes the URL.
  • Preserves important information, such as sales receipts without having to print.
  • Features a convenient filing system (folders and dividers) to organize your Scrapbook entries.
  • Saves hypertext links embedded in page.
Figure 6: The new Scrapbook with three entries.
Figure 6. The new Scrapbook with three entries.

Page Holder: Want to keep a page handy for reference later in the browsing session?. The Page Holder (on the Explorer Bar) is designed just for that. When you hit "Add" in the Page Holder window, a copy of the current page is placed there. After doing so, if you click the "Links" button to get a list of all the links on the "held" page. As you continue surfing in the main window, the "held" page is always available for reference. This allows you to grab all the links on a site's home page, for example, and then drill down as far as you'd like without losing those links.

Page Holder is a pretty handy feature for getting around on sites which don't offer navigational aids on their sub-pages, or to keep from getting lost in the weeds as you follow one link after another, eventually forgetting where you were twenty pages ago.

Text Zoom: Now you can change the size of all the text on the page. Although not quite as useful as Opera's ability to zoom all page elements, Text Zoom is progress ... especially for those of us who actually do want to read the fine print on some sites. Mac users will remember the older Larger/Smaller buttons which had a much more limited functionality. Text Zoom is an improvement because it will shrink or enlarge any text -- even if it was specified with units like pixels.

Auction Manager: eBay addicts will happy to hear about the Auction Manager and Auction Tracker features. These additions let you set up monitoring of auctions so that you're notified as the bids change. You can monitor any auction, whether you're participating in it or not, and you can select various notification options -- for example, you can choose to be notified when the auction closes, when any bids change, and when you're no longer the high bidder, in any combination.

Font Sizes Gone Crazy!

I've heard that many designers are completely horrified when they first see their site in Internet Explorer 5. "Why is the text so huge?" they ask. The reason is that IE5 now lets users decide what kind of font resolution they want to emulate, and that can have serious effects on some designs.

If you dig into the preferences, however, you'll discover that the Fonts/Languages preference panel has gotten a huge overhaul. Most obviously, users can select what font they want to use when displaying text that calls for serif, sans-serif, cursive, monospace, and fantasy fonts (in other words, the CSS generic font-families), as well as generic proportional fonts.

Figure 7: The Font Preferences dialogue box.
Figure 7. The Font Preferences dialogue box. Note the ability to adjust screen resolutions.

However, tucked away in the panel is a setting for font resolution. There are three choices: 72 dots per inch (the traditional Mac OS measure), 96 dots per inch (closer to most Windows settings), and "Other..." which actually lets users calibrate the resolution to a physical ruler, in order to get the exact number of pixels per inch.

So what's wrong with that? Authors who have used points as the measure of font size in their styles, trusting that points always equal pixels on a Macintosh, will learn why points are such a bad choice for web design. The difference between a 72 dpi setting and a 96 dpi setting can be dramatic.

Is this a bad thing? No. How many times have you gone to a web site and had the text be too small to read, even with glasses? Usually that's because the site was created by a Windows-based author who declared something like font-size: 7pt. That's small but readable on most Windows systems, but too small to read on older Mac browsers. Now the text will be legible again, assuming the user is browsing at 96 dpi or higher. Internet Explorer 5 is actually providing something that Mac OS has so far failed to give: a way to relate the monitor display to real-world measurements.

On page three we'll look at how well (or not so well) Internet Explorer 5 adheres to rendering standards -- including CSS1 and CSS2.

Pages: 1, 2, 3

Next Pagearrow