Thursday, October 13, 2011

Integrating IE Into GNOME & Firefox

One of the things that has improved greatly over the last 5 years is the number of web sites that are now more compliant to standards. We used Netscape and Firefox on SCO Unix and then Linux through the years and there were always sites that just failed to work. In those cases we had to give people licenses for Internet Explorer on Windows. In this last upgrade to IE 8, we are down to 12 people out of 800 that need IE. WooHoo.

One of the sites that won't work is when our users have to do Webinars/Webex. The bad part has always been that the links come in email and are clicked. This of course opens Firefox on Linux. The users then had to copy and paste the link over to IE and away they would go. Sub-optimal obviously. So how best to handle this for those 12 users? Having a dialog appear to ask which browser you want to use is clunky, and very few sites really need IE anymore. So I'm developing a solution that promotes users using Firefox first and then dropping back to IE as a fallback. When they click on a link in email, it launches Firefox as always. Then based on $USER it knows if you have an IE license and gives you a secondary popup windows (circled in blue) for 10 seconds. If you do nothing, it goes away. From this dialog, you are able to select IE if needed and the URL is then going to be passed to Windows; and RDP will delivery the browser. This only happens if you click on a link in email, not when you just launch the Firefox icon.

I installed this rough code to get an idea of how the users will like the functionality. I'm pleased with the results and it seems like it will work well.


Mikey Cooper said...

Any thought on allowing the user to specify that a certain domain should always be opened in IE? That may make it a bit more seamless for webinar sites.

Anonymous said...

Not bad, but it grabs so much attention that I think you'll end up with many people using IE unnecessarily. You might consider creating a simple Firefox add-on that adds a toolbar button instead.

(It'd be even more awesome if if you could have something similar to "IE Tab" that worked in Linux, but that seems much harder given your setup for running IE.)

Dave Richards said...

@Mikey: I did think about that. The problem is that it's not always or A lot of these marketing companies have you log into their site first and then kick you over to another site. Or we seem to be getting more and more home brew webinar type sites that are poorly written and clunky. I don't think a global database of sites will ever work because of this...and the end users won't be able to maintain such a list on their own.

@Anonymous: Grabbing attention to IE was certainly on my mind. An addon was considered, but unfortunately we have a high number of people that forget steps and don't know how to look in pulldown menus. We have to have clear pathways for them to get to software, or our support staff will get calls for sure. I'm still going to ponder this whole concept, but it appears that no plan will be perfect.