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RE: Bad News on IE6 XML Support

At 2:41 PM -0700 9/7/01, Joshua Allen wrote:
>> http://www.w3.org/1999/XSL/Transform
>> namespace. This is about two years too late, but 
>As opposed to Netscape, which still does not ship with XSLT support, and
>even the Mozilla tool (last time I checked) which does allow XSLT to be
>used does *not* support any form of CSS? 

Better not to do it than to do it so horribly wrong as Microsoft has. IE has massively polluted the XSLT space. Microsoft has taught thousands of programmers that XSLT is something it's not. 

> At least IE has been capable
>of using the correct namespace with fully-supported products and
>standards compliance for quite awhile. 

And yet you persisted in shipping non-compliant versions with IE. You proved that you could do better, and repeatedly failed to do so. This is not incompetence. This is deliberate choice. 

> What other product can claim
>that?  This article is totally missing the point that the support for
>the recommendation namespace *has* been available well before IE6

However, since it's not installed by default it's irrelevant. We cannot use it or rely on it.  What you actually did ship with IE 5.0 and 5.5 was a non-compliant version. Hiding a compliant version deep in your web site for those few experts who knew where to look (and how to install it) in no way absolves you from the sin of shipping millions of non-compliant versions. 

>> At first glance, CSS support for XML does not seem to 
>> be significantly improved. For instance, display: 
>> table is still not supported.
>I will admit that CSS support is incomplete across the whole industry.
>Of course, this is not exactly an XML issue.

Opera and Mozilla have a few missing pieces here and there, but overall their conformance with CSS2 is in the 95%+ range. They can reasonably claim that what they miss is a bug. I'd rate IE in the <50% range. Not the same thing at all. Navigator, Mozilla, and Opera are much further along with CSS support than IE is. 

>> The XML parser built-in to IE is thoroughly broken. It 
>There is no XML Parser "built-in"; IE6 uses MSXML 3.0, which ought to be
>a paragon of standards-conformance (including rejecting illegal XML
>characters).  If you have specific bug reports with the conformance of
>MSXML, please let us know.  We have seen a few conformance bugs that I
>believe have been fixed (even in IE6, the conformance bug fixes have
>been integrated into MSXML3 as well as being added to MSXML4, so IE6
>ships with fixes for some conformance bugs that Antenna House reported,
>and so on).  Honestly, any objective data that we are seeing in
>Microsoft makes us think that we have done a pretty good job of setting
>a good example for conformance.  I am someone feels it is "thoroughly
>broken", but that doesn't give us much to go on.

Microsoft already knows about this and made the choice for the reasons I described. Here's a malformed document:


Internet Explorer 6.0 accepts it (and similar documents) and according to Microsoft's own Aung Aung (xmlfeedback30@microsoft.com) that choice was quite deliberately made: "Yes, IE is using msxml3.dll but that particular character checing was not fixed in IE for backward competibility reason. So, if you write a simple jscript to parser the xml it will be fine, but in  IE it will give error."

See the various messages in this thread: http://groups.google.com/groups?hl=en&safe=off&th=ce1b42b42ccf1c1a&rnum=1

>> Microsoft still labors under the illusion that there
>> is a MIME media type text/xsl. IE does not recognize
>> the actual MIME types text/xml and
>> application/xml+xslt as identifying XSL stylesheets.
>As http://lists.w3.org/Archives/Public/xsl-editors/1999JulSep/0016.html
>shows, this was in the spec not long before it was released. 

However, it was not in the spec when it was released. What was in that spec was text/xml and application/xml. Since that time application/xml+xslt has been added. I can understand why you made this mistake in IE 5.0. I can't understand why you chose to perpetuate this in IE 5.5 and IE 6.0. 

> People
>needed *some* way to associate a transform with an XML document, and
>this was the best we could do at that time.  In fact, it is the best
>that anyone has ever done, as far as I can tell.  Again, last I checked
>the only other browser that even supported this (the unsupported plugin
>for Mozilla), was quite happy to accept text/xsl as well.  I have
>forwarded this to the IE people who handle Mime-mapping, and I agree
>that application/xml+xslt should be supported, but let's be honest about
>the magnitude of this bug.

It's probably worse for me than you. I receive more than weekly emails from readers swearing that my books are wrong because I tell people to use text/xml instead of text/xsl. And I've got a standard from response that tells them to complain to Microsoft, not to me because I'm right and Microsoft is wrong. 

>> Bottom line: any doubt that the IE team at Microsoft 
>> actually cares about standards has been erased. More 
>This message has been forwarded to the people responsible so they are
>aware of this perception.
>> than three years since XML 1.0 was released and almost 
>> two years after XSLT 1.0 was released, IE still does
>> not correctly implement these specifications. Even
>Again, this is misleading.  MSXML *does* implement these standards, and
>I thought in a pretty good way.  This isn't even a part of IE, so it's a
>bit unfair to slam IE.

No, my article was quite clear that MSXML does a better job than IE does. The problems in IE 55 and 6.0 have all involved the IE team deliberately choosing not to be as up-to-date and conformant as the XML team allows them to be. These are *not* problems in MSXML. They are problems in IE. 

>> parser/XSLT processor, the IE programmers deliberately 
>> chose to cripple it rather than support standard XML!
>IE6 uses MSXML3.  IE6 does not "cripple" it in any way that I am aware
>of.  I believe that IE6 defaults to be compatible with older documents
>(which MSXML3 now rejects if they use high ASCII characters and so on).
>Again, if you are saying that IE kills documents that load fine in MSXML
>without IE, then please give some specific examples, as that would be a

Agains, see the above cited thread and message from Microsoft's Aung Aung. IE most definitely does cripple MSXML3. 

| Elliotte Rusty Harold | elharo@metalab.unc.edu | Writer/Programmer |
|          The XML Bible, 2nd Edition (Hungry Minds, 2001)           |
|              http://www.ibiblio.org/xml/books/bible2/              |
|   http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ISBN=0764547607/cafeaulaitA/   |
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