IE Rules!

Volume 6, Issue 60; 18 Jul 2003

Rules, as in “the rules you have to obey if you want your content to be available to the folks running IE.” Not rules, as in “any bloody good.

The best way to make your dreams come true is to wake up.

Paul Valéry

I think I've got the image problem in IE sorted out. That is to say, I've bent and twisted my design and implementation to fit within the confines of IEs broken implementation of web standards.

(I take some perverse pleasure in writing this note from inside a Microsoft campus. I've been in a full week of meetings and have just a little bit of down time now before I move on up to Vancouver for next week's TAG meetings.)

I appreciate that there are some users forced by corporate standards or other factors to run IE. You have my sympathy. The rest of you, pick something else for crying out loud!

Herewith, some rules for IE:

  1. Don't put any comments or other metadata in your JPEG images.

  2. Avoid PNG images. In particular, PNG images with transparency don't work.

  3. Apply content negotiation only with the greatest care. Bear in mind that the operating system supporting IE has odd notions about MIME types. When IE is forced to defer to a plugin for rendering, that plugin will re-request the resource and may do so with a different, incompatible set of “accepts” headers.

  4. Use only an obscure subset of CSS2. Better yet, stick with CSS1. Well, most of it, anyway.

All of these problems are more than a minor annoyance if you're trying to setup a website. IE accounts for roughly 40% of my viewing audience (according to the logs, anyway) so I don't think refusing to support IE is really appropriate. Tempting, perhaps, but not appropriate.

So, what have I done? I've hacked at the CSS until it seems to work for in IE, avoided PNG images, taken PDF out of the content-negotiation mix, and most recently removed image metadata from thumbnail and scaled versions of images.

Most images on this site exist in three sizes, a thumbnail size that's displayed on the main essay page, a scaled size that appears in the page with image metadata (the page you get if you click on the thumbnail), and a full size (the page you get if you click on the image in the image metadata page). IE users should now be able to view the thumbnail and scaled images. If you want to see the full-size images, you'll have to download them and use a JPEG viewer that isn't broken.

If you have any other troubles, do let me know.

In an unrelated footnote, I have the distinct pleasure of posting this essay from Tim Bray's house. That must put and ongoing in some new relationship.


This is just a test of Dan Connolly's information appliance. It has no real bearing on this essay.

—Posted by Norman Walsh on 22 Jul 2003 @ 06:40 UTC #