Web server changes

Two small changes have been made to the Lab web server that may break some existing web pages, in particular those using other character encodings than UTF-8.

The first is intended to improve rendering of Lab pages in Internet Explorer 8 within the Lab. By default IE8 unhelpfully emulates old bugs when viewing what it considers to be “intranet” pages; the change should inhibit this behaviour.

The second is to add an item to the HTTP response headers declaring pages to be encoded in UTF-8. Unicode with UTF-8 encoding has been the preferred character set in the Lab for some time, but without this declaration, browsers will tend to assume an 8-bit character set such as ISO 8859-1. The change should improve the rendering of pages which include characters such as pound sign.

There is one known situation in which this change will cause problems. If a page declares its own character encoding (other than UTF-8) by means of a meta tag, the change will cause the browser to receive conflicting information from the response headers. The latter usually win, leading to incorrect rendering. The preferred solution is to re-encode the page in UTF-8.  If this cannot be done then you can use the directive

AddDefaultCharset off

in a .htaccess file to restore the former behaviour.

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