IX.4 July 2002
Page: 52
Digital Citation

Go away!


I am the chair of the HTML working group, an international
  group of people from companies like Microsoft, Netscape,
  various telecom companies, etc, who under the auspices of the
  World Wide Web Consortium are responsible for designing new
  versions of HTML.


It should come as no surprise then that I surf the Web
  with the newest of the new browsers, such as Mozilla, Opera,
  Galeon, Konqueror, etc. Not only with new browsers, but also
  with new computers, laptops, PDAs, telephones, and so on. It
  is consequently quite amusing when I am greeted by a Web site
  that tells me that my browser is terribly out of date, and
  that I should uprade to Netscape 4 or Internet Explorer 5…
  Well, it was amusing the first time, but I find it rather sad
  really, offensive even. It is extraordinary how many Web
  sites are unable to deal with more than just one or two
  standard browsers on a standard computer.


There are three sorts of faulty sites. The first, and
  least problematic, are those that announce something like
  "Best viewed at 800x600, with 16 bit color, and browser
  such-and-so." And if I haven’t got 800x600 pixels


Do I have to buy a new computer? These sites are the fault
  of graphic designers who are used to designing for paper,
  with its fixed sizes and formats, but haven’t yet learnt
  "fluid design" where the content fills the window,
  regardless of its size of format.


The second sort of faulty site is where something just
  doesn’t work. You click on a button, and nothing happens.
  These are the fault of programmers who think that there are
  only two browsers in the world and look at the name of the
  browser, and decide that if it isn’t the one, it must be the
  other. In fact they ought to be looking at the properties of
  the browser rather than the name in order to decide how to
  address it.


The third, and worst, type of faulty site is where you get
  confronted with the message "you are using the wrong
  browser; you can’t come in." That it is more important
  to them that I not see their stupid site, rather than see it
  with a browser they don’t know, seems incredible to me. It
  has certainly lost certain sites money, since I have just
  gone to the competitor and bought there.


My reaction when I see such sites is that the producers
  are incompetent. It is trivial to make a site that works on
  all browsers. It is more work to make one that doesn’t work
  on all browsers, but I assume they do it for a flashier
  effect. Why they don’t go the extra mile to make it work
  again on all browsers is beyond me.


There are people who think that the browser wars are over.
  In fact we are just in a lull. There are many new sorts of
  computers about to be released, and I count at least 20 new
  browsers on the way, many of them embedded in devices.


If Web site builders don’t start learning how to deal with
  diversity, they will soon be missing lots of people.

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