October 14, 2005

Browser Bafflement

Hatched by Dafydd

I try very hard to make Big Lizards as strict XHTML as I can in order that as many browsers as possible be able at least to read it. For example, whenever I post a link that includes dangerous characters ( such as <, >, &, =, and ?) I go through the entire link replacing them with the corresponding HTML character entities (Amazon.com is the most egregious felon in this respect). Note that some entities themselves may not display on older browsers, but I think these work pretty widely -- tell me if they don't!

So I'm distressed when things don't look right in one or another browser. I think the site looks fairly good -- rather, it looks as I intend it to look! -- in recent versions of Internet Explorer and Netscape. Firefox seems to do well (not surprisingly, since I think it and Netscape 8 use the same engine). I have less success with Opera.

And recently, Sachi (who uses a Mac) had a problem with the Mac version of Netscape 7.2. She wasn't picking up changes in comment display wrought by tweaking the stylesheet. At my suggestion, she deleted her cache, and then she was able to see the changes; evidently, Mac NS 7.2 didn't recognize a page being changed merely because the CSS file it linked was changed!

Some things to look for that I occasionally notice in some browsers:

  • The lizard-scales background is supposed to go all the way down to the bottom of the page, not stop where the right sidebar stops.
  • The parchment background of the sidebar should extend to cover all the links and such in the sidebar; there should be no place where the parchment ends but the words continue.
  • The SiteMeter bug should be at the very, very bottom, below everything.
  • The graphic navigation bar in the top section should work to link to other pages of the Big Lizards site; if it doesn't, I put a text version at the top of the sidebar.
  • Oh, yeah: the sidebar should actually be on the right-hand side -- not below, above, or floating over your living-room coffee table!

So if any of you has a problem viewing Big Lizards properly in any particular browser, first try deleting your browser cache and reloading. If that all-purpose restorative doesn't work, then please let me know via the comments; I don't promise to fix it (it may be unfixable), but I'll look into it and do what my limited understanding of such issues allows me to do.

This is a standing offer; if at any time you have a problem viewing something, please comment to that effect in any post you happen to be reading at the time: I read all comments.

Many thanks!

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, October 14, 2005, at the time of 4:24 PM

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The following hissed in response by: binkley

XHTML? Great job! Sorry to hear about the browser woes.

The above hissed in response by: binkley [TypeKey Profile Page] at October 14, 2005 6:59 PM

The following hissed in response by: Jim Bennett


I was able to fix the background and sidebar problems in Opera.


removed all background info from the container spec in the css, and put in the body instead. Body now reads:

body {
margin: 0px 0px 0px 0px;
text-align: left;
background: url(GoldSnak.gif);

and container now reads:

#container {
line-height: 140%;
padding: 0px;

the repeat seems not to be needed, or the #FFF, either.


I took the /div from right above <!--Category archive END-->

and put it down below, right above <!--Right column END-->

That makes four(!) /divs in a row, interrupted by the <!--Sidebar END--> Pesky things, those divs and /divs, hard to keep track of.

I don't know anything about MT or XHTML, but these work on a saved copy. Best wishes from someone who used to see you around GEnie.

The above hissed in response by: Jim Bennett [TypeKey Profile Page] at October 17, 2005 3:24 AM

The following hissed in response by: Dafydd ab Hugh

Jim Bennett:

Nope; that crashes and burns on IE! The browser window only goes down as far as the end of the sidebar column... all the rest of the blog below that is inaccessible.

In fact, it's very peculiar: in IE (which is a lot more popular than Opera), it appears that the limitation is the <body> tag, not the <container> tag: when the gif url was in body, the whole shebang ended at the bottom of the right column; but when it's in container, you can see the whole blog... only the background gif ends at the bottom of the sidebar.

This is very puzzling, and I can't seem to get anybody to respond on the Movable Type forum (and the company declined to help me because they don't deal with custom template files). I really wonder what the heck is going on here.

Any other suggestions? I'm fresh out of ideas!

(Does body need an "overflow" element, as the class center has?)


The above hissed in response by: Dafydd ab Hugh [TypeKey Profile Page] at October 17, 2005 5:33 AM

The following hissed in response by: Jim Bennett


I think that "browser window only goes down as far as the end of the sidebar column... all the rest of the blog below that is inaccessible" problem is coming from the overflow: hidden statement in #right. w3c says this about that:
"The content is clipped, but the browser does not display a scroll-bar to see the rest of the content." Did I forget to mention that I'd removed that in modifying the stylesheet? Oh, yes, I did forget. Sorry!

Other changes in addition to the ones described in the previous post:

set padding on .sidebar to 5px 5px (instead of just 15px all alone) and move it to #right

set #center width to 68% (instead of 70%)(For IE's benefit)

and to get the Sitemeter to display at the very bottom even in IE, a br clear="all" followed by another br to give it a little room to breathe.

Padding is one of those things that'll have you pulling out your hair, or scraping your scales, as IE treats it differently from other browsers, by enlarging the box to make room for the padding, instead of squeezing the contents to make room.

If we can take this to email, I'll just send you the stylesheet I worked up. I don't want to post it here, this is already getting long.

The above hissed in response by: Jim Bennett [TypeKey Profile Page] at October 17, 2005 5:02 PM

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