In my spare time I like to think of myself as a cyclist, and as a cyclist my thing is riding cyclosportives which are similar if not the same as century rides in the USA. One of the popular rides close to my home in Oxford is the White Horse Challenge which has a route that climbs past several White Horse figures that have been carved into the chalk of the hills around here.
The website for this ride was built using Microsoft FrontPage 2003 and looks fine if viewed with Internet Explorer but looks a real mess if viewed with Firefox.
The problem is that FrontPage out of the box has default settings that assume that websites will be viewed with IE. This includes allowing the use of VML Graphics which are the main culprit for things going wrong.
We tried changing the settings on FrontPage and then re-publishing the website but that didn’t improve things at all. The only solution was to create a totally new website then edit the pages manually to remove the VML stuff that was causing Firefox (and other standards-compliant browsers) to go bananas.
As an example of what happens, where content was positioned manually using FrontPage this would be placed in the correct place by VML if the browser was IE. For other browsers there was a jpg image of the content that was displayed instead. The most obvious sign of this happening is where links don’t work when using browsers other then Internet Explorer (how could they as they are just part of an image).
The only sensible solution was to rewrite everything manually removing hundreds of lines of VML. This had the effect of improving performance as the size of the pages is reduced pretty dramatically. Also used CSS to reproduce the table based design of the original website, so FrontPage out of the box didn’t use any CSS at all.
FrontPage 2003 is hardly leading edge these days but there are quite a few websites out there that were built with this tool, and a lot of them have problems with cross-browser compatibility and modern browser standards. With some refactoring work they can be bought up to modern standards without having to re-create them from scratch.