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Strange IE Bug

19 Feb, 2006

If you tried to access my website over the weekend using Internet Explorer (as 37% of you do--almost all of the rest of you use Firefox), you would have seen something strange. The site would have loaded normally, and then, immediately after showing the page, would have blanked it out again.

I'm not sure why IE behaved this way, but I can tell you what triggered it. I don't use much Javascript on this site, but I do have one script that my web analytics tool, Mint, requires. In an effort to improve performance, I had marked that script as "defer." That is, where my HTML once said:

<script src="http://www.jamesshore.com/mint/?js" type="text/javascript"></script>

It now said:

<script defer="defer" src="http://www.jamesshore.com/mint/?js" type="text/javascript"></script>

This innocuous little attribute tells the browser that it can load the script whenever it wants because the script doesn't change the rendering of the page.

Well, IE doesn't like that attribute, for some reason, and blanked out the entire screen. Not sure why. Maybe it's an interaction with Mint; maybe it's a bug in IE. At any rate, if you ever see this problem, try looking for "defer" attributes. That could be your culprit.

Thanks to Bill Wake for letting me know about this little problem. I check my site in IE, every so often, but since this interacted with my analytics tool the problem only showed up on the live site. IE users were seeing blank screens for the whole weekend. Apparently, that wasn't a problem, because Bill was the first to let me know. Thanks, Bill.