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Trouble with tickers

Posted by Ed on January 23, 2004

The Guardian has introduced a new ticker which causes my browser (Mozilla on Linux) to die instantly. In Konqueror its fine, and the BBC News site, which also features aforementioned evil device, poses no problems. Anybody else having trouble with this? My Java installation appears to be fine.

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4 Responses to “Trouble with tickers”

  1. Hmmm, I can reproduce this. My Mozilla 1.4 crashes instantly when opening that URL. Maybe an upgrade to 1.5 or 1.6 will solve this problem.

    Something else that is really irritating at the moment is the way in which the Adobe Acroreader plugin for Mozilla crashes the whole browser when backing out of certain PDFs. It’s really irritating: you’re reading some interesting article and when you press the back button or close that tab, the whole browser just disappears in a puff of smoke.

  2. Ed said

    I’ve upgraded to 1.6 (from 1.4), which seems to have solved the crashing problem. The ticker still doesn’t work properly though – it displays as a bulleted list.

  3. Upgrading to 1.6 on Debian also seems to have solved my “crash and burn mysteriously on certain interesting PDFs” problem. I’m happy.

  4. Ed said

    Some excellent technical support from the Guardian has resolved the crashing ticker problem. It involves a Gecko/GTK problem and is explained below in the email responses I had from them. In short, 1.4 and 1.5 browsers should now display a list and 1.6 will display the ticker.
    ____
    Now, when we first introduced the ticker we discovered it was crashing some Gecko based browsers (eg: both Mozilla and MozillaFirebird) – but only when they were compiled against GTK2 (so potentially on several Unix-like systems that Mozilla supports). It turns out that a bug was introduced sometime after Mozilla 1.4 was released that caused some interaction between JavaScript and GTK2 to crash the browser. I have experienced this on a couple of other sites too. It’s not an issue with the JavaScript itself being bad. The bug had now been fixed for Mozilla 1.6. Unfortunately both Mozilla 1.5 and MozillaFirebird 0.7 were released with this bug. What we’ve subsequently done to alleviate this problem is to look at the user agent string and disable the ticker (ie: just display the list) if it appears to be a version affected by the bug. Obviously this relies on the user agent string being set correctly.
    ____
    Thanks – this helps explains things. As I said in my previous email, the versions based around Mozilla 1.5 have this bug which we are trying to work around. It turns out that the way we were detecting these versions wasn’t quite correct. (Mainly down to the fact that the build dates for a given release actually seem to vary – which is odd as they should all come from the same source.)

    > _______________
    > For Mozilla-1.6,
    > mozilla -v produces Mozilla 1.6, Copyright (c) 2003
    > mozilla.org, build 2003101500
    > about: produces Mozilla/5.0 (X11; U; Linux i686;
    > en-US; rv:1.6) Gecko/20031015
    > and I see a bulleted list instead of the ticker.

    This version does not have the bug. However, we were mistakenly deciding it did, so you just get the list.

    > ____________________
    > For Mozilla-firebird,
    > mozilla-firebird -v produces Mozilla 1.5a, Copyright
    > (c) 2003 mozilla.org
    > about: produces Mozilla/5.0 (X11; U; Linux i686;
    > en-US; rv:1.5a) Gecko/20030905 Mozilla Firebird/0.6.1
    > and the browser crashes at guardian.co.uk.

    This version does have the bug. However, we were not identifying it as such. Hence it runs the ticker, hits the bug, and crashes.

    > _______________
    > For Mozilla-1.5,
    > mozilla -v displays Mozilla 1.5, Copyright (c) 2003
    > mozilla.org, build 2003100718
    > about: displays Mozilla/5.0 (X11; U; Linux i686;
    > en-US; rv:1.5) Gecko/20031007
    > and the ticker works as intended!

    Slightly more complicated here. This version does have the bug. However, your particular build was not compiled against GTK2, so it does not cause a crash! Unfortunately there is no way for us to detect whether you are using a GTK2 enabled build or not. Hence, we should be disabling the ticker for this version. At the moment we are [mistakenly] not identidying this as a potentially buggy version (as above), so you see the ticker.

    I have now fixed the workaround so that it detects the version correctly (in a much more sensible manner in fact!), and tested it against several builds. Once this fix is live then the three browsers above will behave as follows:
    – Mozilla 1.6: displays ticker OK.
    – Firebird 0.6.1: displays list.
    – Mozilla 1.5: displays list.

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