Neil Turner's Blog

Blogging about technology and randomness since 2002

IE7 and Printing

I’ve been following the development of IE7 quite closely, for two reasons: I’m a web designer and also a Firefox fan. As a web designer, anything that makes my life easier, such as better standards support, is very much welcome. As much as I want Firefox to continue to eat away at IE’s market share, the fact of the matter is that for some, IE is the only option. There are still too many sites that require technologies like VBScript and ActiveX which Firefox doesn’t support, including company intranets, and so IE isn’t going to go away any time soon. Therefore, a better IE is very welcome.
As a Firefox fan, I want to see where IE7 innovates and then try and come up with ways of making Firefox better to compete with it. As the title of this posts suggests, I’m going to concentrate on printing here.
I’ve not yet used IE7 – I’m not on the beta test, and although several torrents of it are available I don’t really want to install it just yet seing as it overwrites IE6 and can’t be removed. Sure, I use Firefox 99% of the time, the other 1% being for sites which don’t work or for visiting Windows Update, but if IE7 majorly breaks my computer then I won’t be impressed. I may consider beta 2 but I’ll probably wait.
Anyway, printing. The IE blog has details about IE7’s updated printing support. It fixes one of the biggest bugbears I have with printing in both IE and Firefox – you print what you think is just one page but actually it prints one full page and then two lines of a copyright notice on the second page, thus wasting paper. Now, IE7 detects when it’s likely to do that and shrinks the content to fit on one page.
It will also optionally shrink pages that are too wide to fit on one piece of paper, again something that can be quite annoying when a page has something important on the right-hand side that gets cut-off. Admittedly that’s more bad web design than a browser problem, but still, if it can be avoided then I’m all for it.
Firefox, even in Deer Park Alpha 2 doesn’t do either of these things, which is a pity. It’s probably too late to get this sort of thing into Firefox 1.5 but it would be very handy for Firefox 2.0.
Update: My ass has been fact-checked. You can shrink pages to fit in Page Setup and in Print Preview, but not in the Print dialog which is probably why I’ve never noticed it. Maybe it should be more prominent, or a button added that allows Page Setup to be opened from the Print dialog. Still, Firefox won’t shrink pages vertically so that it doesn’t print an almost blank last page like this IE7 beta does.


  1. I’ve downloaded the beta but not installed it yet – I’ll probably make a virtual machine to try it out on.
    As for the printing I’m convinced that ie was designed to make the content fit a page exactly and THEN add the url on the top of the next page. Just how is it possible for so many web pages to exactly fit in a piece of a4 otherwise?

  2. There’s a checkbox in the Firefox page setup dialog “Shrink to Fit Page Width”.

  3. Have you filed a bug in Bugzilla for this, so we can vote for it?

  4. I don’t really want to install it just yet seing as it overwrites IE6 and can’t be removed.
    Holy crap. I’m not installing it, ever.

  5. In a similar vein:
    Windows Guru Calls For IE7 Boycott
    Give me firefox anyday.
    Good to hear of your unconditional offer, Neil. Cracking stuff.
    BTW, if anyone was watching ‘Hollywood UK‘ there was some excellent footage of 1960s Bradford juxtaposed with Bradford in 2005. Quite odd.

  6. Welcoming more ways to easy printing

    It never ceases to amaze me that people can focus on something that everyone is having problems about then making some sort of a solution to that.