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Blog: Design

Browser Detection Gone Bananas

04 Oct 05 by DL Byron

View any of the Gap sites in Safari or any Apple browser for that matter and watch the bizarro loop happen. If you switch your user agent to force the site to think you're MSIE 6.0, you get in, though the layout is broken. This is the site that has been lauded in the tech press for coding some break-though, all-in-one page, e-commerce thingy. Their engine works great, if you can like get to it. The dangers of browser detection, redirection, and just plain stupid development have been discussed ad-nauseam for as long as I can remember. And this comes just when you'd think Standards-based design was making gains, as discussed on Robert's Talk.

Most interesting, is when the site launched a few weeks ago, you could get in, it worked OK, and it uses Standards-based design techniques. My guess is that the developers noticed, "hey this code is broken on Opera or whatever, " we've got to detect and redirect them away to another site with less of the million dollar code we just wrote. As flawed as that logic is, you don't actually go to another less Web 2.0, superfantastic site, but instead a loop of nothingness. Even worse is that dreaded, "your browser is not supported page," which is where the loop is probably trying to send you.

Part of what I lecture about at the Blog Business Summit is how Standards are built into blogging and the difference that makes to bloggers because they don't have to think about it; instead, just worry about all the content you're going to write. Standards matters now, more than ever, because of all the convergent/divergent devices that people are using to browse the web. There's absolutely no good reason to lock your code into one platform or browser. You can learn more about Standards and browsers at WaSP, A List Apart, and an An Event Apart.

Hat tip to Mac Daily News.

filed under: Design | Link Cosmos | View Comments (3) | Post a comment


Posted by chuanz | 05 Oct 05

It loops in Opera as well. But the more bizzare thing is that, it displays fine when Opera spoofs as M$IE (without the "Opera" string totally). There goes my respect, or whateva, for Gap Inc. Stupid browser sniffers, do they live in 1995 or what?

Posted by -b- | 05 Oct 05

Agreed. I tried that as well. I can say I've never actually seen the endless loop before, plenty of detection and redirection and for know good reason, as the site works when spoofed.

Posted by Nick | 14 Oct 05

Nice blog.I like this.

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