Right, before we go any further, let me warn you that the first part of this post will be mostly a rant, so if you’re not in the mood for reading about today’s frustrations feel free to skip down to something a little more positive.
Now, on with the rant. I have spent the last few days preparing the Diocese of Chelmsford web site for its switch to the new design layout I have been working on. Everything was set and ready to go, and this morning I hit the appropriate keys and sent the marvellous new design into the big global playground called the WWW. And then I was told it wasn’t working.
However, it soon became apparent that IE6 wasn’t going to accept this lightly, and produced some rather inexplicable results. Despite my having tested the new design on every browser I could lay my hands on, I had not been able to test it on IE6 (due to the complex nature of trying to run IE6 and IE7 together on the same machine). I ended up having someone trying to describe down the phone what they were seeing on their computer, all of which befuzzled me no end. Most of the page was displaying fine, but the top header of each page was appearing without the background image. The strange thing is, other similar elements on the page that used backgrounds were working fine. I even got them to try accessing the background image directly, and that worked fine, so it wasn’t IE6 complaining at me using PNG images either.
Grrr. My web site doesn’t work.
The most beneficial solution would be to force everyone to use a better browser. Firefox has long been at the forefront here; in fact pretty much every other browser available seems to have better support for web pages than IE6. IE7 is better than IE6, but there are still many rendering issues that highlight Microsoft’s lazy and cack-handed approach to handling web pages. Most worrying is the number of people still using IE6 – given that IE7 is supposed to be installed automatically as part of the regular Automatic Updates that Microsoft offers, the lack of IE7 means a considerable number of machines where Automatic Updates are not being received! This means that not only are computers using old and obsolete versions of the web browser, but also that their computers haven’t been patched up against viruses. So this is my advice to you if you are using IE6 – don’t.