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I got the AOL blues

  • # August 25, 2011 at 6:23 am

    I’ve had issues with AOL on a couple of sites, most recently http://lizsingerbooks.com/. In this case, I’m told that the page layout breaks for AOL users – the right and left edges of the header area are cut off, as if the header is wider than the viewport. This makes the right-most nav item unavailable. I don’t use AOL, so I have to go by what I’m told. And I suspect that what I’m told needs to be taken with a grain of salt, because I think AOL users are often less computer-literate than others (otherwise, why would they be using AOL?).

    Anyway, the last I heard, AOL insisted on using proprietary versions of IE. This raises a couple of questions:

    1) Is this still the case?
    2) If so, how can I tell which versions of IE the various versions of AOL use?
    3) Most important, assuming I can somehow find out which versions of IE to target, will normal IE conditional comments serving up IE-specific spreadsheets work to resolve layout issues experienced by AOL users?

    Thanks

    Rob
    # August 25, 2011 at 7:47 am

    I don’t know what version these AOL users are told they have to use – I didn’t even realise AOL was still open for business! lol

    But here are some screenshots.

    IE7 – http://i.imgur.com/yEo4o.jpg
    IE8 – http://i.imgur.com/nJ42a.jpg

    IE9 for me is normal…

    You can target any version of IE, but personally if it’s IE7 and below I would put up a nice page that enables people to install Chrome or Firefox… :D

    # August 25, 2011 at 10:47 am

    Thanks Robskiwarrior.

    I forgot to mention that I’ve tested in Firefox 3.6 & 5, IE 8 & 9, current versions of Opera, Safari, and Chrome. Also I’ve made the decision to stop supporting IE6.

    I’d still be interested in some sort of listing that gives AOL versions and their respective IE versions.

    # August 25, 2011 at 12:09 pm

    The head of our business still uses AOL’s desktop software because he “needs his email”. All of the sites I show him are beyond broken, and I just tell him the truth: it’s an old browser, it’s usage is so small it doesn’t even show up on browser usage statistics, and the internet will always look like that for him.

    The great thing is, he understands that. It’s not just your site that looks like that for AOL users, it’s alot of the internet.

    Anyway, I believe there are two versions of the browser–one for Windows and one for OSX. The Windows version is built ontop of Trident [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Trident_%28layout_engine%29] which is Microsofts rendering engine. The OSX version is built using Webkit [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/AOL_Desktop].

    I think. This is assuming they aren’t using an ancient thing like AOL Explorer or AOL Openride.

    Anyway, after typing all of that out, it occurs to me that you could slap some PHP together that would print the user agent, and then visit the page using the AOL browser (preferably from their computer). Right? that might get you the specifics you are after. Maybe? Helpful?

    # August 25, 2011 at 12:19 pm

    Thanks for the info tristanzimmerman. It is helpful; all except the PHP part because I have zero PHP knowledge. I’ll search for a “pre-packaged” user agent detector; maybe that’ll work.

    I’d like to just forget about supporting AOL, but that’s obviously not an option if it’s the client’s default browser.

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