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Deep in the Code

Why is this Website Garbled?

I use Thesis from DIYthemes for this blog, and have found it to be a very versatile system for customizing their themes. However, I saw that my HTML 5 validation was failing due in part to the use of deprecated attributes on a link tag. I decided to report the problem via the DIYthemes website, and found something very strange!

DIYthemes site on Chrome

This is how the DIYthemes website looked on Chrome.

At first I thought that perhaps I had ended up on their page in a foreign language, or maybe their site had been hacked. When I viewed the HTML source, the text appeared as it should. If I selected some of the text and copied and pasted it into mt text editor, the missing letters were there! Perhaps a JavaScript was running that hid certain letters?

When I opened the page in Internet Explorer 11, the page looked correct:

DIYthemes on IE11

How the website looked on IE 11.

At this point, I took a look at the Chrome DevTools window (you can use F12 to get there) to see if that would yield the information I needed. I saw a warning in the Console pane that might lead to an answer: “Failed to decode downloaded font: data:application/font-woff…”

DevTools window on DIYthemes page

The Chrome Developer Tools window can be very helpful!

By turning off the font-family tags in the DevTools window, I watched the website begin to look normal, albeit in a more generic font than what the site is supposed to use. So apparently, if a font is not properly decoded by the browser, it can omit characters and cause the site to look like the first picture above.

I’m not yet certain why my Chrome browser did not decode the font, where IE 11 did. This could be a bug on the DIYthemes site, or a problem with Chrome. In any case, this error can happen for a number of reasons, and some of those reasons can be found on Stack Overflow.