Z-index conflict with Flash and DHTML widgets

I’m working on a project that has a Flash movie and a DHTML dropdown menu on the same page. Flash movies like to sit on top of the page and the dropdown would slide behind the movie. Since this isn’t what I wanted, I needed to find a way to make the it have a lower z-index than the dropdown.

I did a Standardista Search for a cure and didn’t see it. But a quick message to the Web Standards Group returned the solution. It’s actually pretty easy.

UFO Flash detection and insertion script

I’m using the UFO JavaScript to detect the browser’s compatibility with the Flash movie and insert it on the fly. This method provides good default content to those without Flash and valid, shiny, happy Flash to those with it.

UFO gives you the ability to insert parameters into the movie and this is what you need to cure the z-index issue. You need to set the wmode parameter to “transparent.”

var FO = { movie:"swf/myMovie.swf", width:"300", height:"120", majorversion:"6", build:"40", wmode:"transparent" }

That’s all there is to it.

Do the Box Model Hack

box model hack designAbout a year ago, my friend Brian and I challenged each other to come up with the worst t-shirt design for our mythical band, the Box Model Hack. Personally, I think I came up with the worst design. Brian, in the midst of all that was the wicked worn look designed a shirt that was too wearable to be considered bad.

But not mine… I found some photo of a guy dancing in a speedo and boots and new my muse was getting tickled. With Photoshop’s newly released ability to set text on a path, I was on my own path to ugly tshirt lovin’.

ted, molly, and the shirtI even wore this lovely shirt to the @Media conference and witnessed dozens of people jealously admiring my lovely dancing hack guy. Yes, that’s me next to the lovely Molly. Notice her admiration for the lovely tshirt. Or is that fear in her eyes as she wonders who this maniac is with the camera phone.
In the spirit of the IE7 Beta 2 release, you can get your own version of this lovely shirt. So, head on over to my CafePress Box Model Hack store and stock up on the goodies before Microsoft actually fixes the box model problem… Now that’s funny.

IE7 Hacks

Microsoft has fixed much of the bugs that plagued IE6 and in the process removed the filters we used to target Internet Explorer in our CSS. As Lord God Martha would say, this is a good thing.

However, there will be a time when you need to send a rule to IE7 and not to IE6. Or perhaps you need to send a rule to IE7 and to IE6. I’ve put together a test page of IE6 hacks to see what IE7 doesn’t walk right past. I’m condensing the test page into the paragraph below.

Luckily, there is a loophole for us and we can use this for “offroad use only.” Why am I using this silly description? Because you and I need to move beyond hacks. Place browser specific (IE) in conditional comments or use a serverside script to place a class on the html or body (html class=”ie6″ ) to target these browsers in your main CSS file.

However, these hacks will let you develop your CSS on the fly and fix your issues before going the proper route.

Test Paragraph (condensed version of test page)

this is the test paragraph to see how IE7 will handle hacks

  • IE7 Beta2 understands #wrap>p.borderfun and applies correct color.
  • IE7 Beta2 ignores * html p.borderfun styles.
  • IE7 Beta2 recognizes the * hack.
  • IE7 Beta2 ignores the underscore hack.
  • In Firefox, Safari, and Opera, you should see a red border. In IE7, you should see a black border. In IE6, you should see a pink border.

How to use this

If you need to send something to IE6 and nothing else: use the underscore attribute hack (_border:1px solid pink;) If you want to send something to IE7 AND IE6, use the *attribute hack (*border:1px solid black;). If you want to send something to IE7 and NOT IE6, use a combination (*border:1px solid black; _border:1px solid pink;).

A call to arms

Get out there kids and begin removing your * html rules. Place those suckers in a conditional commented css file or at least begin replacing them with the underscore hack. When it comes time to tune for IE7, you’ll have less work to do.

IE7 Beta 2 is out for developers to test

IE7 Beta 2 is now available for developers to begin testing. I’ve been suggesting on the web standards group mailing list that people need to begin looking beyond 2005 and start coding for IE7 and 2006. That doesn’t mean you design for IE7 and hack for Firefox. No, it means you can begin using more sophisticated CSS rules. Here’s a very brief summary of what I’ve seen with IE7 Beta 2 so far.

Rolling out IE7

Microsoft has an aggressive agenda to upgrade people from IE6 to IE7. By the end of Fall, we should see a significant percentage of our web site visitors using IE7 and by the end of the year, the majority of our traffic will be IE7. Those without IE7 are machines with illegal copies of XP, people with XP Service Pack 1, and those that don’t accept Microsoft service updates.

Use real CSS

If you are working on a site now, begin using real CSS.

  • Use child selectors, first-child, attribute selectors, etc.
  • Hover your list items and more. IE7 supports the hover pseudoclass on more than the link.
  • IE7 offers full support of alpha transparent png graphics, so begin using them as well.

Forget what you knew about “* html”, those hacks now belong in a style sheet that is introduced via a conditional comment. They are gone, kaput, zilch. Sure, they’ll still work on IE6, but you’re going to have one heck of a nightmare keeping track.

Test Sites

I am a big fan of All that malarkey (Andy Clarke). However, his site is full of special rules for IE6 and its a great testing ground to see what IE7 chokes on and what it does as good as Firefox, Opera, and Safari. If your site is fairly hack free, you probably won’t notice a difference going from Firefox to IE7 Beta 2. Start hunting around and finding the errors.

What is still broken on IE7

There are two major issues that I have with IE7.

  1. No generated content. You can’t use CSS to add checkmarks to visited links, clearing containers spans, etc.
  2. Double float margin still exists. This can be fixed by adding display:inline to your floated objects when this problem occurs.
  3. While I haven’t been able to nail down the specifics, there seems to be some bugginess with positioning absolute/relative.

I’m sure there will be much better analysis of this launch by PositionIsEverything, Quirksmode, and the IE7blog. I hope these scribbled notes help you move forward. IE7 is a good thing. It’s not perfect, but damn it sure is nice to ditch the son of suckerfish javascript, class=”firstitem”, haloed transparent gifs, et al.

I forgot to mention, IE7 replaces IE6 on your computer. You need to have an extra computer to continue testing your pages in IE6. If you only have one windows box, I’d suggest keeping IE6 on that and just program for Firefox, et al and placing your IE6 hacks in a conditional comment linked style sheet