Sunday, May 6, 2012

JavaScript Bug in Safari 5.1.5

Update: The latest Safari release 5.1.7 still has these issues. The T-PEN team is hard at work finding a more graceful solution for our Safari users. A separate update to T-PEN, however, means that once you have restored the interface, all the tools will work correctly.

The T-PEN development team has confirmed that there is a bug in the latest release of Safari, causing previously working pages to stop working. It seems that it can break sites that use some versions of java applets entirely, but is more frustrating on sites like T-PEN where piecemeal failures interrupt expected behaviors without offering fair warnings. In this case, Safari displays the image for transcription without any regions for text entry or functional tools.

In most installations, Safari updates automatically with no simple ability to rollback. The 5.1.5 release (beginning March 26) on Mac and Windows contain this bug. Since the applications update on a staggered schedule, it would be at some point over the following few weeks that the transcription page would stop displaying correctly. This has been the principal reason why it has taken us a while to determine the problem: being able to repeat a problem is essential in diagnosing it.

We are working on some fixes, and we hope in the same way that Apple quickly released 5.1.5 to fix problems with 5.1.4 (released March 12) they will fix this as well.

Chrome and Firefox still behave correctly. If switching browsers is an option, it is the best solution at this time. T-PEN is designed to function in all modern browsers and we are addressing this problem as a priority.

In the interim, this somewhat clunky workaround will restore full functionality, though the process must be repeated on each page.
  1. Load up your page to transcribe;
  2. Click on a tool and immediately press the ESC key;
    • Right after you click on the tool, you should see the bar that splits the screen on the far right - you'll need to hit ESC before the bar fades out again
    • If successful, you will see a split screen with the right side completely blank - the left side will show the correct display
  3. Press ESC again to restore the screen to full size - clicking the tools will now behave correctly.
If you notice other bugs or display issues as you are using T-PEN, please let the team know by logging into T-PEN and clicking on the Contact Us link on the transcription or home pages. Regular bug fixes are explained in periodic release notes; updates to this issue will be posted here as well.


  1. On an off-chance, is it present in the current builds as well? If not, that may offer a simpler workaround for users.

    1. Indeed, the webkit build works correctly, as does Google Chrome (another webkit browser). There seems to be something specific and insidious that Safari engineers have done, which is why the fix has not been as simple as browser/feature detection or a tweak to the script or css.

      Unfortunately, some users are bound to computers on which they may not have rights to run other browsers. Perhaps your suggestion will help, however, since the build can be run out of its own folder and does not require the same permissions others may.

  2. This is spectacular! Simply put i appreciate reading your written content everytime I get feed alarm.