Master of the Web?I spent about four hours today working online because I installed Internet Explorer 9.

No, there were no problems with IE9. That time was spent fixing this web page.

IE9 installed smoothly and looks nice and sleek, seems to run fast and I’m told is much improved over older versions of IE. Microsoft would like to forget IE6, I’m sure.

But, as always, Microsoft’s vision of how HTML should work is slightly different from everyone elses’. Actually, all the major browsers vary in small ways. But as soon as I viewed this blog in it, I noticed the font I am using for the titles didn’t load and the default font was displayed. A minor annoyance, but I wanted to see why it didn’t, what it would take to fix, and if it was still working in the other browsers I have.

First, a bit of technical background. Not every font is on everybody’s computer. You have installed the ones you like, but that doesn’t mean I have the same ones. There is a certain set of basic fonts that are common that are used for most web pages, and certain types of font categories that your display will fall back to even if those aren’t found.

But to be sure a special font is available to render a web page, they came up with a system of CSS Inline Fonts where custom fonts are specified in the style sheet of a web page and if not on your computer already, can be downloaded along with the web page. You may have noticed a small delay before the final font is displayed.

What I found out was IE9 is a little picky about how it does this and wants a certain type of font file that I wasn’t supplying. Fortunately, as with most things on the web, I didn’t need to figure this out on my own, someone had already done it and written it up online.

So, I spent four hours changing the mechanism that puts the fancy font on this blog. Reading up on what to do, getting the font converted to the new format, uploading the font files, debugging it all and testing it in four browsers.

Of course, it didn’t all just work right away. It immediately broke it in Firefox. I got that working again, but it still refused to work in IE9, even though it did work if I switched to compatibility mode. Odd.

I found out what I was doing wrong and fixed it, then found out it didn’t work in Chrome. Turns out that the theme I use in WordPress has a seperate stylesheet for Chrome and all I needed to do was make the same changes to it that I did for the normal stylesheet.

I then tried Opera. Of course, it had been so long since I used Opera that it insisted on installing a new version of it. At least the font worked.

Anyway, the blog now displays properly in all four browsers, IE9, Firefox 3.12, Opera 11 and Chrome whatever. I don’t know what version of Chrome I’m using because it updates itself on it’s own without consulting me and I never need to know!

I did find that, as far as the CSS Font loading is concerned, all the browsers were faster than Firefox, with Chrome and Opera seeming to be instantaneous. IE9 had a small delay, but Firefox has a noticeable delay while the file downloads. Of course, this may all be cosmetic, if they simply delay rendering the page until the font arrives and Firefox 4 may be just as quick. I haven’t tried it yet, even though the pre-release is available.

I was impressed with the amount of space the newer browsers give back to the actual web page. They are very stingy with how much screen real estate they use for menus and toolbars. Firefox 3.x seems dated and crowded by comparison. It doesn’t help that I’ve added a couple plugins that add to that, though.

I’ve stuck with Firefox so far because there is a small set of plugins, or Add-ons as they like to be called, that I simply can’t do without. Some of them are available for the other browsers too, but not every one. I’ve added Xmarks to IE9 and Chrome, so I have a common set of Bookmarks, but the password memory doesn’t seem to carry through. I have so many passwords to various sites that Firefox remembers and Xmarks backs up, that I just can’t function in a browser without them. I’m sure there is a solution, if I had to, though. I’m waiting until FF4 comes out to decide.