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  1. #1
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    How do tou test in AOL?

    I'd like to test stuff in an AOL browser, but here's the problem - how do you use AOL software without having an AOL account?

    I'm not prepared to pay £15.99 a month for a test browser ... and even I were I can't anyway - it's impossible to sign up for the trial without a modem - and I don't have a modem, only an ADSL connection.

    Any ideas? Maybe there's a preference file somewhere that I can hack to make AOL work like a normal web browser?

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    Senior Coder joh6nn's Avatar
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    well, i don't think you could pull that off, but you can use aol to view offline pages, without signing up.

    aol has always used IE, so basically, however it looks in IE, is how it's gonna look in AOL.
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  • #3
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    Offline pages sure ... but I don't do anything like that these days - everything is server compiled; even localhost is inaccessible without an AOL sign in.

    And in any case - while the embedded IE means that most things are the same, that's not reliable. AOL does strange things - it mutilates ('compresses') images - routes most page requests through an AOL proxy - and god knows what else. That's why I need the browser, to know.

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    Very true, plus the implementation of JavaScript is a little different. I've had sites that work in IE4.0 + then choke in AOL (causes fatal errors). Since AOL is about 30% here in the US, it's a big one to get correct. I think you can sign up for AOL email only accounts around $3 a month.

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    Senior Coder joh6nn's Avatar
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    well, brothercake, i'm pretty sure you're out of luck. i've heard of WebTV emulators, but never an aol emulator. unless you're willing to get down and dirty with their code, i think you're stuck.
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  • #6
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    I emailed AOL support to ask them what they think ... considering how evangelistic their developer section is, you'd think that would have come up before ...

    Thanks for the thoughts

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    I have AOL and you have a few options. Firstly, AOL has a plan called byoc (bring your own connection) in which you provide own ISP and they let you use AOL's stuff for U$9 a month. Perhaps you could get all your coding done within a month or so then cancel. Secondly, you could just post here or other forums and ask to have your pages tested in someone's AOL browser. Thirdly, maybe I or someone else could just send you the browser.

    Someone above was very correct...AOL sometimes uses unique coding like in their infamous email. Best to test with over 30 million users.
    Last edited by zoobie; 12-14-2002 at 03:40 AM.
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    Senior Coder Mhtml's Avatar
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    AOL aus Has a byoc thing but you don't need to pay at all as long as you are with one of there "prefered" ISPs which we coincidently use.

    They may not have that any more though, stopped using AOL when I found out how incredibly bad it was.
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    Re: How do tou test in AOL?

    Originally posted by brothercake
    Any ideas? Maybe there's a preference file somewhere that I can hack to make AOL work like a normal web browser?
    Don't forget to tell 30 million Aol users if you find one
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  • #10
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    Originally posted by joh6nn
    aol has always used IE, so basically, however it looks in IE, is how it's gonna look in AOL.
    AOL's Compuserve service recently switched to Gecko. The latest AOL for Mac OSX also uses Gecko.

    Gecko into Windows AOL is only expected.

  • #11
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    Originally posted by jkd
    AOL's Compuserve service recently switched to Gecko. The latest AOL for Mac OSX also uses Gecko.

    Gecko into Windows AOL is only expected.

    Very true .... but even then - will it be real gecko behaviour, or some bastardized permutation ...?

    Unfortunately I can't test in OSX cos I don't have it. It might be possible to associate win/AOL with the gecko engine, by replacing IE's calls to MSHTML.dll with a symbolic link to gecko; but I only know that in theory - I wouldn't know how to actually do it.

    In any case - given the virus-like nature of AOL software, I'm not prepared to have it on my main computer - only in the isolated safety of a virtual machine will I even consider installing it


    I solved the problem short term by doing just that, and then a colleague at work said I could use her sign-on in the short term; but I'd still like a longer term solution.

    AOL support were no help - in the UK at least, they said they do not provide any non-ISP services. I guess a trawl through aol.co.uk is in order ... must remember to disable popups first ...
    Last edited by brothercake; 12-14-2002 at 04:23 PM.

  • #12
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    Originally posted by brothercake
    Very true .... but even then - will it be real gecko behaviour, or some bastardized permutation ...?
    heh, if theyre anything like before, the second one

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  • #13
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    Originally posted by brothercake
    AOL does strange things - it mutilates ('compresses') images
    That can be turned off

    I remember reading about it in www.digitalblasphemy.com - the author said something about AOL compressing the images and making them look - well pixelated.

    Have a read if you want to stop it.


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  • #14
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    Stop it for me sure ... but I can't stop it for users, and that's the point.

    developer.aol has a section all about image formats, compression ratios, color palettes etc.. full of genuinely good and practical advice about choosing the best image properties for the web.

    But what's the point of all that, when images are still raster compressed afterwards ... in a manner you have no control over ...??? It stretches credulity ...
    Last edited by brothercake; 12-16-2002 at 12:34 PM.

  • #15
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    One way could be to sniff for AOL. If the browser is AOL, have a popup with instructions, or better yet (and less annoying), an alert() that sets a session-only cookie to only popup once.

    That way, if you can't beat it, you can at least help users get around it...

    Creator of SimplePie and Tarzan AWS, co-founder of WarpShare, co-built the Y! Messenger website, usability-focused, and an INFJ personality.


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