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February 22nd, 2001

Netscape 4.x does suck, you know.

A lot of people are up in arms in regards to the Web Standards Project‘s recent declaration, To Hell with Bad Browsers. I can see both sides of the argument. It’s important to note that many people use an old version of a browser for a reason; oftentimes it’s due to a lack of computing horsepower, and moreoften it’s due to department- or company-wide deployment. The horsepower argument is somewhat of a wash, though, because Opera can run on even a lowly 386 (and now there’s a Mac version on the way, huzzah!)

I’m working on transitioning a work site to use more CSS. It won’t be complete, not just yet, but it’s getting there. And every single time I made any change to the CSS, Netscape 4.75 would bungle it. Not just somewhat, but immensely. Take my dilemma. I’ve got an image, a small one, that I want shifted left and down a few pixels. Thus, I can use the relative position attribute of a stylesheet to move it, right? Like so.

.moverandshaker {position: relative; top: 3px; left: 3px}

Very easy. I used this five times on a page. What did Netscape 4.75 do? It was actually random. Sometimes it would line up some of the images next to each other, sometimes it wouldn’t; the only constant was that Netscape would screw things up, royally. What to do?

WaSP’s idea are solid, and the arguments are pretty good – the only downside is that so many people are using a version four browser, it’s crazy. There needs to be a balance between using the new technologies (which are standards and are supported in the current browsers), and dealing with the people who can’t or won’t upgrade. Any advice? -pm

Posted in Technology

DATE: Thursday February 22, 2001 -- 6:07:14PM
I was actually able to march into my boss and tell him that if a certain department didn't upgrade immediately, it was going to take x amount of my time to make everything backwards-compatible. I also explained that the more bells and whistles I could use, the more user-friendly the website would be. It worked.

FROM: Patrick
DATE: Thursday February 22, 2001 -- 8:01:28PM
This is the least pinged ping I have seen yet.

Paul, here's some overkill, but...what if you used a PHP browser detect script that generates the appropriate entry into a stylesheet for the different browsers. That way you only have to account for the few minor CSS specs that are not fully supported.

Outright opinion -- Frankly, if a visitors' browser doesn't support CSS, that's their problem unless your company makes money by having people visit and use the site. In that case, you have to find the most efficient answer to the problem because 1)forcing people upgrade and 2)attempting to sway the home visitor to upgrade because they will get nice features is like trying to pound sand in a rat hole.

I think the Web Standard's Project idea is an overbearing attempt at a good solution to a wide spread problem. And what the hell is up with all their links to other sites opening new windows? I guess they assume I want to stay on THEIR site because THEIR ideas are soo incredible.

FROM: Terry M.
DATE: Friday February 23, 2001 -- 12:28:24AM
Some people can't upgrade because of their OS. For example, the newest web browser available on VMS is Netscape 3 (which makes the web all but unusable on that platform). The versions on OS/2 also lag behind (but not as bad).

The whole world isn't as rosy as the Linux/Windows/Mac oligopoly.

FROM: Paul
DATE: Friday February 23, 2001 -- 7:23:05AM
...but Terry, and I know this is pretty much playing with fire, what percentage of users run VMS or OS/2, out of the big pie?

Patrick, anything with PHP is most definitely not overkill! :)

It needs to be noted that all of the pages at ALA are completely readable in an old browser - they just look crappy.

FROM: Patrick
DATE: Friday February 23, 2001 -- 9:44:54AM
OK, now I think netscape 4.x does suck. I have come to notice that it does not apply a style sheet throughout a long page if you also set any FONT tags. It will lose the style after the equivalent of about 2 printed pages. Argh!

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