I was asked by a colleague about IE8 and the standards opt-out meta tag malarkey today. I said that I didn’t expect the company’s various sites to break, as we’d built to standards (for the most part) for some time, with the exception of the banking service which is getting very long in the toothe.
Regardless, I thought I’d take a look at some pages in IE, and there were some problems. The thing is, these issues do not show in other standards-capable browsers (incl Firefox, Safari, Oper and also IE6/7), so if I spot an error in IE8 beta 1, how do know whether it is:
- a genuine problem with the CSS that all the other browsers have, to date, been less fussy about
- a problem just with the beta version that can safely be ignored (for now) on the basis that IE*'s rendering engine may not be as per final version and therefore errors are to be expected or
- a problem in IE8 beta, which will also be a problem in IE8 final … and is going to require a horrible IE8-specific CSS tweak.
How does one know?
For info, the problems I spotted were as follows:
http://www.nationwide.co.uk/default.htm - broken tab on right hand side
http://www.nationwide.co.uk/creditcard/ - layout of left-most panel all wrong - uses abs positioning but is over other items
http://www.nationwide.co.uk/signon/default.htm - the header layout is broken (the blue area is not appearing flush left, causing other problems)
The annoying thing is that the header in the last example was only recently re-worked by me as part of another project and I was able to remove 8-year-old table based markup and image-based navigation (with rollovers) for something much cleaner, so it’s annoying to see it break in IE8.
So, how does one know whether to say “It’s OK, it works on all other browsers, so it must be an IE8 problem that will be fixed in the next beta version” or say “Oh crap, the CSS on here must be broken and I didn’t know before now”
IMPORTANT: the CSS on nationwide.co.uk is an absolute mess, I will say, in that it has suffered what a lot of sites like this do - layer upon layer upon layer of new styles and duplications thanks to multiple people updating. It’s really nasty to debug, and I’m not asking anyone to do this, honestly! I’m just after an opinion about whether weird layout problems that show up are indicative of CSS problems or browser rendering engine weirdness. I hope that makes sense