Victus Spiritus


Amazon Ad Plays Nice with IE/Firefox, Fails to Render in Chrome/Safari

14 Dec 2009

Product Preview

Amazon product links have an interesting optional functionality called Product Preview. It has had other arcane names in the past (link enhancer), but has a similar functionality to Snapshots. Basically when you mouse over an enhanced link, the browser renders a small image with detailed information.

The function has a few nifty features:

Getting it to work

So after some html and scripting views of an old website (my first) both Tyler and I dug up the official documentation at the Amazon Affiliate lair. With some tweaking of the URL and the appended image we were in business on our end. Then we added the Amazon JavaScript and whala:

It worked in IE but not Chrome, (*engineering expletives deleted?!?*).
Why had my beloved speed demon of a browser forsaken me? It turns out there's a known issue with Product Preview with WebKit browsers. Problogger Darren Rowse (sharp fellow that I bumped into on Twitter a while back) discovered this almost three years ago. As you can witness, this has been a HOT BUTTON topic for the folks at Safari and Chrome land. It's a rendering problem they don't care to fix or that Amazon doesn't see value in working around.

My gut instinct is to punt and show the boxes in the widget all the time, and to revisit alternate designs that work cross browser and cross ad platform (Google, Microsoft, our own). Generic views my ass :).

Why we looked at the design

The Intelligent Media Manager has a widget ad box that is in a continual state of improvement. In addition to planned and implemented semantic functional upgrades the base ad display was in need of spiffing up.

Before we hire on a web designer pro to make the ad box a sexy irresistable force of nature, we want to gather more information and gradually grow our user base. I figured an evening of elbow polish would help after some feedback from designer friend Shana Carp (she wants to support our concept by hosting the box, but thinks it's a bit of an eyesore). Ideally the ad widget will be fully customizable by the host to allow for smooth thematic integration.