The Internet Explorer 6 Peekaboo Bug

Peekaboo! It’s a bug! Did you see it? Until today, I didn’t know it was there … and now it’s no longer there.

In case you are not sure whether you saw it or not, you may find today’s true life story instructive. The Strategic Marketing Montreal website has been recently upgraded using CSS style sheets and in accordance with web standards. Design was mostly checked with Mozilla Firefox and then certain well-known hacks were added to make sure the design appeared correctly in Internet Explorer. A fairly large number of people checked the website and all pronounced it satisfactory in the standard browsers.

Yesterday a Newsletter was added to the website entitled, “Small Is Beautiful Websites“. As usual an e-mail advice was sent to some 750 readers. Within three hours, Will Johnson of Net Profit Now contacted SMM to point out that small sections of the web page would occasionally disappear when viewed with Internet Explorer 6. At first it was difficult to find the conditions under which this happened, but in certain situations moving the mouse over a hyperlink could cause another small section of the web page to go white. Neither he nor I could understand this weird and baffling phenomenon.

Luckily the strongest force of the Internet, the power of connections, came into play. The problem was described on Cre8asite Forums. Within 20 minutes, Tam (Tamsin Stone), a UK web designer, had suggested that this was the Internet Explorer 6 Peekaboo Bug. Help came from the PositionIsEverything website of John Gallant and Holly Bergevin. Within another 20 minutes the Holly Hack had been added to the CSS stylesheet and the Internet Explorer 6 Peekaboo Bug was no more.

In this case, a height correction seems to have done the trick. The Holly Hack involved adding the following code to the CSS file:
/* Hides from IE5-mac */
* html div#content {height: 1%;}
/* End hide from IE5-mac */ /*— Holly Hack for IE 6 Peekaboo bug —*/

The explanation for this code can be found on the John and Holly website.

It’s unfortunate that Internet Explorer 6 does not follow the standards so that such hacks must be devised. By now Microsoft has created for itself such legacy problems that no solution is possible. All the world can do is patch things up when they come apart. In this case, no great harm was done since – Now you see it, now you don’t. Peekaboo.

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