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Different Browsers Produce Different Results

Posted on 2011-09-07
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Last Modified: 2013-11-19
I am having a browser related problem that I have not seen before. ComeChildrenSing.com is a complex website consisting of a number of component areas. The two areas we will be looking at in this issue are OTEC (Online Teacher Education Center) and Moodle (a php-based open-source academic course management system).

To see the problem, you will need to try the following on several browsers . Be sure to try it on Safari, Firefox or Chrome. You should also try it on Internet Explorer.

You will need access to content not available publicly. Here’s what you need to do.
* Go to comechildrensing.com
* On the home page, click the top button of the left sidebar, Online Teacher Education Center. This will take you to the OTEC home page.
* On the OTEC home page, click the “My Course” link on the gray bar below the banner at the top of the page. This should take you to a login page. Use the following credentials to log in.
      E-Mail Address: janedoe@comechildrensing.com
      Password: aguest
* You are now logged in and should now be in the teachers/teacher_blogs.php page. In the text area, it says “Welcome to OTEC!” If you are back at the comechildrensing.com home page, that is alright. You can still do what you need to do from there. From either page, click the Moodle link in the gray bar at the bottom of the page. This will take you to the Moodle home page.
* Click the Login link in the top right-hand corner of the page. This will take you to the Moodle login page.
* Log in again, using the same credentials. You should now be in a Moodle page with the heading “My Courses.” Below that, you should see a link, “Giving Voice to Children's Artistry ME110.”
* Click on the “Giving Voice to Children's Artistry ME110” link. This will take you to the course page. You will see a “Topic Outline” and additional content for each of 10 weeks. We are interested in the links in each of the ten weeks under the heading “Online Materials.”
* In Week 1, under the Online Materials, click on “The Musical Mind.” No matter which browser you are using, you should be taken to the teachers/blog_details.php page where you will see an article for Music Educators entitled “The Musical Mind.” You do not need to do anything on this page; just click the back button to take you to the course page. Each of the 4 links in Week 1 should take you to its article – no problem. Now scroll down to Week 4.
* In Week 4, click on “The Song Spectrum” link. If you are using Chrome, Firefox or Safari, you will probably be taken to the login page again. But you are already logged in. You can see a Logout option in the gray bars at the top and bottom of the page, so there is no need to log in again. It will not help. If you log in again, you get the “Welcome to OTEC!” message. The information needed to find the article is lost. Some other links in later weeks fail in the same way.

The strange thing is that this problem does not seem to affect Internet Explorer. I’ve tried it on two different computers running IE9 and they always connected to the correct article.

Do you have the same experience as I have had? Why would one browser work and the other 3 consistently fail? What is the problem?

There is a lot more I could tell you about functionality, but I will wait for your questions.




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Question by:gpinzino
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Dave Baldwin earned 500 total points
ID: 36499493
You're going back and forth from secure to insecure, 'https' to 'http', and I believe that kills your PHP sessions.  And since your session is gone, your login is too.
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Author Comment

by:gpinzino
ID: 36499810
Interessting observation. I'll check it out further. But even if true, why would some links work and others not? And why would Internet Explorer work? If a session is gone, I would think it would be gone for all browsers.
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Expert Comment

by:Dave Baldwin
ID: 36499976
Which version of IE?  Note that all the browsers keep tightening security.  Also, if the session or login is based on cookies, there are some quirks about handling cookies across 'http' and 'https'.
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Expert Comment

by:Dave Baldwin
ID: 36500024
On this page https://www.comechildrensing.com/catalog/login.php?homepage=teacher , you are combining both GET and POST methods.
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Author Closing Comment

by:gpinzino
ID: 36502920
Great job Dave! Your comment caused me to take a closer look at the URLs for the links. All of the URLs for the broken links were in the form "http://comechildrensing.com..." And all of the links for working links were in the form "https://www.comechildrensing.com..."

I cannot complletely explain why this happens, but I suspect the SSL certificate plays into this. It is registered to www.comechildrensing.com. The browsers see comechildrensing.com as a different website and sometimes flag the discrepancy.

Thank you for your help!
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Expert Comment

by:Dave Baldwin
ID: 36504450
You're welcome.  I think you're on the right track because there are also some things the browsers won't pass on 'automatically' when switching from 'http' to 'https'.  Glad to help.
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