Since the new library website went live a couple weeks ago, I’ve been poking at it, looking for problems. I was assuming there must be some unexpected use cases out there that would cause it fail.

I found exactly what I was looking for when one of my co-workers fired up Internet Explorer to do her work at the reference desk. It did not even occur to me that IE was even on the reference desk computers, but it is, and apparently librarians are using it. This set off some alarm bells for me. I started checking student terminals in the library, and some of them are also running really old Edge as a default. I suppose that’s a bit better than IE, but it’s still a very out-of-date browser.

Unsurprisingly, a bunch of the site’s functionality was broken on IE and old Edge. Browser technology has moved on since IE 11 was launched in 2013, and newer features of JavaScript don’t work on those old browsers. While I can ask the IT department to update the computers that are in the library, it’s safe to assume that if it’s broken here, it’s probably broken elsewhere on campus too, where we can’t see it. So while IE accounts for only ~2% of browser use overall, it’s nonetheless a problem for us.

So I set about making the library page compatible with IE 10 & 11 and old Edge. This involved adding some polyfills, to allow newer code to run on the older browsers. Somewhat foolishly, I went through a problematic JavaScript library by hand to replace all of the new syntax with older equivalents. Babel also helped.

Most of the problems are now fixed. The search widget and the hours widget that I had originally built in the spring now work on IE 10 & 11, and old Edge. The only unsolvable piece was the SpringShare chat widget. That widget is managed by SpringShare, and they were clear that they weren’t going to support these old browsers. Que sera, sera, I guess. I’ll add a notice that asks IE users to update their browser when they attempt to use the chat. We’ll see how that goes :)

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One Comment

  1. Posted September 19, 2021 at 12:08 am | Permalink

    I went through our LibGuides statistics, and it looks like only 0.3% of our traffic comes from IE. So maybe not as much of a problem as I had feared? :/

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