Webdesign and the horrors of IE 5.0, IE 5.5, IE 6

This past weekend I took a swing at reworking one of my sites using XHTML 1.1 and CSS 2.1. Everything was going well. Firefox and 2.0 were happy campers as was Opera 9.0.2. In between I goofed around a bit and bumped into a truly amazing script called “ies4linux” made by Sérgio Luís Lopes Júnior that installs IE 5.0, IE 5.5 and IE 6 on a Linux box. It even throws in Flash if you want to. In my case I installed it on my laptop running Fedora Core 6 and Wine. You can find the “ies4linux” script on his website at tatanka.com. First I installed Wine with yum, downloaded the script, started it and answered a few simple questions. The script went on its way to download some files and installed all three IE browser versions. Once finished I had 3 IE icons on my Desktop. I double clicked on the IE6 icon and lo and behold IE6 started fine and browsing websites worked like a charm. I quickly tried the two other versions and they worked too. Kudos to the Wine folks and Sérgio.

But then came the agony. I fired up IE6 again and browsed to my newly reworked site. Oh the horror. It looked awful. The entire layout was messed up and margins and padding took a whole new meaning. Next I tried IE5.0 and IE5.5. Both made an even bigger mess than IE6. I had read about all the IE horror stories and this time I had my own to tell. What were the Microsoft developers thinking when they released these abominations into the wild?! How is it possible that they got the crystal clear box model wrong?! Even IE6 is chock full of embarrassing bugs (have a look here for a nice overview). Do the Microsoft developers take no pride in their work? One can only hope that IE7 will fix this mess but googling around it seems they still have some work to do. Sigh.

It took me more than 2 hours to find, understand and fix all the ugly hacks for IE’s stupid bugs. And that was only in the front page. Now it looks fine in Firefox, Firefox 2.0 and Opera 9.0.2 on Linux and IE5.0, IE5.5 and IE6 on Wine :-) I don’t have a Mac to check but I’m sure I will hear about it soon enough once the reworked site is launched.

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