Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Does your website disappear in IE8?

Mine did.

I was recently given a pretty large redesign project, and during the planning stages I took the opportunity to add a long-missing DOCTYPE to the site. I chose a nice HTML 4.01 Transitional flavor because there was no way in hell the site was going to resemble anything close to XHTML anytime soon. At the very least, it would 1) get the site out of quirks mode, and 2) give us an eventual path to validation.

(I'm including this info to illustrate: we had a proper DOCTYPE, and knew the site would not be valid HTML going in.)

Months after the project was complete and launched, word came down that the site was missing in IE8. Not broken. MISSING. Like, "the page is blank."

No partial loading, no sudden flicker, no error message. The site simply would not render.

I was considering hard liquor as my preferred solution when one of my co-workers mentioned something he'd heard about a new META element, something about versioning. Ah, yes, that version targeting thing.

I added the following to the global website header:

<meta http-equiv="X-UA-Compatible" content="IE=7" />

...and suddenly the site worked in IE8.

This is not a "solution." I still don't know why the site vanishes in IE8. I mean, it rendered perfectly fine in IE5, IE5.5, IE6 and IE7 so OF COURSE IT MAKES TOTAL SENSE THAT IT COMPLETELY VANISHES IN IE8. Right?

No. It does not make sense. Anyway, when I do discover the root cause, I'll post it here. In the meantime, I guess I'll be asking IE8 to dumb it down to my level.