REDMOND, Wash., July 12, 2000 — When the new Microsoft Internet Explorer 5.5 technologies become available for downloading from the Web today via Windows Update at http://windowsupdate.microsoft.com/ , most people will be interested in how they make the Web easier to use, how they automate common tasks and how they provide the flexibility to use the Web any way one wants.
But a small yet significant number of people will look right past those features. When these other people — namely, software developers — look at Internet Explorer 5.5 technologies, they’ll see enhanced frames, element behaviors, vertical text layout and more. For them, Internet Explorer 5.5 will make it faster and easier to create rich, Web-based applications and services. The features that help Internet Explorer 5.5 achieve this goal include continued innovation of the Internet Explorer component model, enhanced multimedia support and improved editing services.
“The development community was a very important audience that we kept in mind while creating Internet Explorer 5.5,”
said David Massy, Internet Explorer 5.5 program manager at Microsoft.
“One of our key design goals has been to allow people to build real-world solutions that run over the Internet. The development community found Internet Explorer 5.0 to be a classic platform for building application user interfaces that don’t require additional client software. With Internet Explorer 5.5 technology, we’ve expanded on the features — such as DHTML behaviors — that made Internet Explorer 5.0 so popular with developers.”
And developers have taken notice. For example, Macromedia developers are using custom XML tags in Internet Explorer 5.5 technology to allow Macromedia Flash content to be manipulated directly.
A Wide Range of New Developer Features
The new support for element behaviors in Internet Explorer 5.5 technology includes enhancements to the behavior component model, which allows developers to add their own custom elements for use in their DHTML documents.. A developer can now create a custom tree-type list control that’s as rich and robust as built-in HTML elements. In addition to creating custom DHTML components, developers can reuse their custom code with fewer potential problems, such as name conflicts.
This reduces total cost of ownership by reducing the need for technical support to maintain the client components. Because the Web-based applications run code retrieved from a central server, end users automatically get the most up-to-date product version without having to update any components on their desktops every time they access the server.
Other new features designed to make Internet Explorer 5.5 a better platform for developers include the following:
HTML Editing Services — Developers get greater support and flexibility for editing HTML content within Internet Explorer. To complete the ability to write custom elements that can function in the same way as a standard HTML element, Internet Explorer technology now includes support for editable regions within an HTML document. This means that developers can switch any element in a document to edit mode at any time and enable full WYSIWYG (What You See Is What You Get) editing of rich HTML content. Developers using these rich editing elements can add highly useful elements, such as creating custom data entry fields for forms. In addition, applications that host Internet Explorer components have increased flexibility to enhance and override the default editing experience.
New Design Capabilities — Developers now can take advantage of improved support for cascading style sheets (CSS 1) to create the type of layouts — including large initial capital letters — found in magazines and finely designed books. They also get new support for color scroll bars that enable more customized and consumer-type applications; for pop-up objects — such as menus or tool-tips — that can be displayed outside of the browser window; and for zoom capability to allow users to focus on any part of the application window.
Vertical Text Layout — A major new design capability is vertical text layout, which allows traditional Chinese and Japanese text to be displayed properly, as text, for the first time. In the past, such text had to be rendered as images or rendered horizontally. Neither option allowed text to be published rapidly or appropriately for one of the world’s fastest-growing Internet communities. The new vertical text layout capability allows Internet Explorer technology to provide a platform for worldwide application user interfaces.
Enhanced Frames and I-Frames — Internet Explorer 5.0 created another instance of itself for each frame being displayed. The new Internet Explorer 5.5 uses new view-linking technology to host multiple frames from a single instance of the browser. This boosts loading of pages with frames by 30 percent to 75 percent. It also enables new effects, such as transparent frame contents and content layering.
Improved Support for Standards — Along with the improved support for CSS 1, developers can create more interactive and media rich documents thanks to Internet Explorer 5.5’s support for HTML + TIME, which supports the Synchronized Multimedia Integration Language (SMIL) Boston working draft of the W3C. It enables synchronization of streaming media, timing of HTML elements, animation, DirectMusic playback and new capabilities to enhance the accessibility of multimedia content on Web pages.
Improved Performance — Internet Explorer 5.5 boosts mean time between failures and fixes stress crashes. It also incorporates print preview and improved printing support, the number one customer request for Internet Explorer 5.5 technology.
New Features Based on Extensive Development, Feedback
The new developer-related features in Internet Explorer 5.5 technology are the result of a 17-month development effort at Microsoft that included a team of more than 250 developers, testers, program managers and documentation writers. Microsoft also consulted with developer-customers to determine what features they wanted and released the first preview version of the software to them in December 1999. Developer-customers continued to provide feedback on the second beta version released last spring.
“In developing Internet Explorer technologies, our goal has been to continue to provide developers with the ability to take componentization to the Web and the ability to create rich, Web-based applications,”
“In doing so, we’re providing the first steps toward allowing independent developers, ISPs and others to create new services on the Web, realizing the next-generation of the Internet’s growth.”