All about Internet Explorer

14.06.11  |  Opinion & Tech support

As you’ll no doubt have noticed (if you’re a repeat visitor, anyway!) we have a new website.

The original idea for this version of our site was born from a desire to make our website more user-friendly, and significantly easier to use on touch-devices like iPhones and iPads.

However, as we’re web designers (yes, Nick – and graphic designers too) we make sure we test everything in as many browsers as we can get our hands on.

This, of course, includes Microsoft’s Internet Explorer.

And so, the main theme of this blog post becomes clear. There have been hundreds of articles written online about how Internet Explorer is the bane of any web developer’s existence, and I’m not one to disagree.

Internet Explorer 10 is rapidly nearing release, and web developers all over the world are eagerly awaiting having to come up with hacks for yet another version of the world’s most popular browser*

We had to build in a number of bizarre kludges to get around problems with Internet Explorer’s rendering model. These included links that refused to activate unless they had a background colour (we had to make the background colour almost invisible, as we didn’t want one) and named anchors that refused to work.

The site actually works reasonably well in Internet Explorer 6, which is something of a miracle. Given how old it is (2001) and how a lot of “modern” techniques are used here, it all works surprisingly smoothly. We were seriously considering removing support for IE6 from our website, until we remembered that the Web is for everyone.

It’s not just Internet Explorer either. We had another issue today with another Microsoft product – Exchange 2008. Our Exchange 2008 server was installed in November, a much-needed upgrade from our previous Exchange 2000 system.

We noticed today that one of our Distribution Groups had stopped working – the one that people e-mail enquiries to from our site. I couldn’t work out why – it was still enabled, everything was set up, but whenever someone e-mailed it they were receiving 5.1.1 errors in a non-delivery report.

As it turned out, Exchange 2008 adds extra security features to Distribution Groups that need to be disabled in order for them to actually work properly. I’m all for extra security, but being told that they’re effectively going to cripple one of our e-mail addresses would have been a bonus.

* Only just! In May 2011, Internet Explorer’s market-share was down to 52% – a far cry from it’s halcyon days.