Why Don’t You Code for Netscape? – A Listing Aside

Q. Your web site seems to be good in Web Explorer 6, however actually dangerous in Netscape 4.7. Is that this the kind of net web page design that you’re recommending to your readers?  The worst downside is that it doesn’t even appear to be the identical web page!

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By the way in which, the buttons that supposedly let the reader select the font don’t work in NS 4.7.

As an online designer, it’s necessary to me that my website not solely look good in each browsers, however that every one readers will see the identical design and formatting.

Please clarify the logic of designing just for one browser.

[Name withheld]

A. Thanks for writing. We don’t design for just one browser. We design for all browsers and gadgets by authoring to W3C suggestions together with XHTML 1.0 Transitional and Cascading Model Sheets.

Consequently, A Listing Aside shows correctly in Opera 5, Opera 6, MSIE5, MSIE5.5, MSIE6, Netscape 6, and Mozilla, whereas its textual content is accessible to any browser or Web system, from Netscape 1.0 to Palm Pilots and net telephones.

The logic of authoring to W3C suggestions, as a substitute of to the quirks of previous, non–requirements–compliant browsers (be they Netscape’s or Microsoft’s or anybody else’s) is defined in these locations:

  1. The Model Information of the Department Libraries of The New York Public Library
  2. To Hell With Unhealthy Browsers right here at ALA
  3. The Net Requirements Challenge’s Improve Marketing campaign: Developer Ideas

A Listing Aside makes use of The Net Requirements Challenge’s Technique 2: Invisible Object to make its textual content accessible to any browser or system, even when that browser or system doesn’t assist CSS or different net requirements utilized in crafting the location’s easy design.

Issues with previous net design strategies#section2

Earlier than the 12 months 2000, no browser totally supported W3C suggestions, and we had been all taught to put in writing no matter non–legitimate markup was essential to make our websites work in these browsers, with out even contemplating the work of the W3C, and its objective of constructing websites interoperable and accessible to all.

Earlier than W3C suggestions had been in place {Ed. third-party article now offline}, and earlier than browsers supported them, most of us had no alternative however to design and develop our websites based on the proprietary quirks of every browser. However this technique of working had not less than 4 main disadvantages:

  1. It made our websites inaccessible to individuals with disabilities.
  2. It made our websites fail in some browsers, and cease working as browsers modified—as an example, if you happen to coded for Netscape 4 layers, your website wouldn’t work in Netscape 6, not to mention MSIE or Opera.
  3. It made our websites value greater than they needed to, since we spent a lot of our shoppers’ cash writing “workaround” code.
  4. And by yoking presentation (design) to construction (content material), it made our websites arduous to move to wi-fi and different various gadgets. In contrast, with legitimate XHTML and CSS as used at A Listing Aside, content material reaches most wi-fi, handheld, and phone-based gadgets routinely.

Sadly, in late 2001, tens of 1000’s {of professional} net designers and builders proceed to create websites tailor-made to the quirks of non–compliant browsers as a substitute of studying about and utilizing W3C suggestions designed to resolve these issues and guarantee continued interoperability and accessibility.

The objective of W3C suggestions#section3

The W3C created suggestions like XHTML and CSS so the net wouldn’t fragment into ever–extra–incompatible browsers and gadgets, however would as a substitute work for everybody, based on the imaginative and prescient of Tim Berners–Lee, the man who invented the net within the first place.

The one means we designers and builders may also help the net obtain this noble objective is by authoring to those suggestions, whereas taking care to make sure that the websites nonetheless work as finest they’ll in non–compliant browsers.

Every website is completely different#section4

In fact, every website is completely different, and you will need to have a look at your referrer logs and discuss to your consumer (or your boss, if you happen to work in–home) to find out the optimum time for switching from previous–customary, non–commonplace net design to W3C–suitable strategies.

The tactic outlined within the NYPL Model Information (legitimate XHTML, tables for primary structure, CSS for all else) works in any browser, although the design could also be ever–so–barely degraded in 4.0 and older browsers. I usually observe this technique in designing tasks for shoppers, and advocate it in my consulting observe as a method of bringing doc construction and ahead–compatibility to giant–scale content material websites.

In contrast, the tactic used right here at A Listing Aside (XHTML for construction, CSS for structure and design) ensures that each reader has entry to the location’s textual content, however permits the design to “disappear” if the browser can’t deal with it. No 4.0 browser can deal with it.

We assume that those that select to maintain utilizing 4.0 browsers have causes for doing so; we additionally assume that almost all of these of us don’t actually care about “design points.” They simply need data, and with this strategy they’ll nonetheless get the data they search. In actual fact, since we started hiding the design from non–compliant browsers in February 2001, ALA’s Netscape 4 readership has elevated, from about 6% to about 11%.

A Listing Aside is a non–business website; we designed it this option to encourage different net designers to consider the net’s current and future, fairly than all the time bending over “backwards” for previous, non–compliant browsers.

If our websites are to endure, our improvement practices ought to look towards the longer term (XML, separation of construction from presentation) fairly than the previous (showing precisely the identical in each browser, whatever the injury to doc construction, interoperability, and accessibility).

For extra data on net requirements, go to The Net Requirements Challenge and particularly the W3C. The ALA articles linked within the “Associated Tales” sidebar may also assist.

Better of luck and thanks for writing.

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