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[P]
WaSP urges users to upgrade their browsers.

By Holloway in Internet
Sun Feb 18, 2001 at 07:59:39 AM EST
Tags: Internet (all tags)
Internet

Several days ago WaSP (essentially a browser lobbying group) launched their Browser Upgrades campaign. The aim was to urge users of older browsers to upgrade. An excellent goal, however when taken in context of Zeldman's other site and their recent To Hell With Bad Browsers it comes off differently - righteous, and political. As they pose; "why does ALA look like @#$ in your 4.0 browser?" Because they want it that way, and they haven't made an alternative.


In recent years we've all learnt the roots of HTML Terrorism and felt the growing hatred against webdesigners. They weren't true programmers. They use Flash, they have text in images, they don't provide ALT tags or ACRONYM tags (K5 cabal, it's OK, the acronym tags are with me). Blind users, the visually impaired, those running at 3200*2400, couldn't use a website. Pesky designers.

On the other side of the fence was the posturing programmer. They didn't care about formatting or images or fancy colours. Give them plain text, they'll do the rest (their bandwidth was important damnit!). This was 1337, and this camp earnt 5/5's on K5 and paid lip-service to those ideals while using tables for formatting and italic tags instead of emphasis tags and using ":::" to space links. Pesky programmers.

What was rarely said however is that both designers and programmers go too far. We all know the flaws of webdesigners, I won't bother with that. But programmers often disregard graphic identity and wish a plague of locusts upon anyone with the gall to use an old browser. Webdesigners were ridiculed, but programmers were often righteous. What wasn't valued is that webdesigners knew HTML hacks that could make the page look good where it normally wouldn't.

Separating style from content - and the solution was HTML and CSS. As clean from one another as designers from programmers. Designers programmed for browsers - programmers coded for standards.

The eternal war was doomed to continue until the legacy of old browsers was defeated. Technology would finally allow designers to theme a webpage without conflicting with standards. It was only a matter of time.

And now back to WaSP's urging user upgrades (ho ho). The idea being that sites would assess the version of a browser and - if elderly - ask them to upgrade [as said in this WaSP article]. This was a good thing provided you could upgrade. The list of possible options of the upgrade website was Internet Explorer 5.5, IE 5 on the Mac, Netscape 6 (obligatory Mozilla link), and Opera 5. A unsettled bunch if ever there was one, and many users cannot upgrade to a browser that supports more standards. If you were in the majority of Win32 or Linux users you were probably OK. If you were BeOS or any less common operating system with a 4.0 browser you weren't. If you were blind it cut out some options.

WaSP's campaign has been enthusiastically received, "Write once view anywhere...Woo hoo!" (and perhaps misread). A List Apart take it too far however and attempts to mislead designers to further their argument:

We've upgraded the design of A List Apart to comply with web standards, some of which (like CSS-1) date back to 1996. This, of course, is the year 2001

Of course browsers didn't adopt the standard until late 1999, they weren't vaguely stable until 2000. There is no five year gap. ALA is WaSP's campaign put in play. At best it looks ugly, at worst it's illegible. It's not an option for any popular commercial website, nor is it for anyone who wants their site to look as good as it can in many browsers. WaSP's campaign is for the ideology that has yet to be realised.

WaSP were right up to a point. In the future all webpages will be coded to these standards. But it's not today. It's not even this year.

Wake me when it's 2003.

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Related Links
o Browser Upgrades campaign
o Zeldman
o other site
o To Hell With Bad Browsers
o the roots of HTML Terrorism
o using tables for formatting
o the flaws of webdesigners
o standards
o urging user upgrades
o this WaSP article
o upgrade website
o Internet Explorer 5.5
o IE 5 on the Mac
o Netscape 6
o obligatory Mozilla link
o Opera 5
o BeOS
o "Write once view anywhere...Woo hoo!"
o A List Apart
o commercial
o Also by Holloway


Display: Sort:
WaSP urges users to upgrade their browsers. | 40 comments (36 topical, 4 editorial, 1 hidden)
Really silly. (4.00 / 5) (#3)
by Seumas on Sat Feb 17, 2001 at 11:54:18 PM EST

This just doesn't make sense. Upgrading your browser isn't going to help when webmasters continue to use non-standard code and the browsers continue to fail to either enforce or support complete proper code.

I certainly don't plan to encourage any of my 10k users to upgrade. Instead of saturating them with useless Flash, DHTML and all sorts of whiz-bang java, I just give them content and do as much on the server side as I can.

If we think web designs suck now, just wait until the coders think they have the leeway of having all users under the newest versions of browsers. Web designers, as a whole, are one of the biggest "who cares if we should do it -- let's do it because we can" crowd I've ever seen. If there was an HTML tag to check your refrigerator's temperature, 80% of the websites would check your refrigerator's temperature, just because "they can".
--
I just read K5 for the articles.

Re: Really silly (3.50 / 2) (#7)
by eLuddite on Sun Feb 18, 2001 at 04:23:08 AM EST

This just doesn't make sense.

How 'bout ANSI C - does that make sense or do you go out of your way to use a non conforming compiler?

Upgrading your browser isn't going to help when webmasters continue to use non-standard code

True.

and the browsers continue to fail to either enforce or support complete proper code. Well, the point is to upgrade to conforming browsers that do support proper code. Instead of saturating them with useless Flash, DHTML and all sorts of whiz-bang java,

The intent isnt to force you to turn on javascript, etc. The intent is that when you (generic) _do_ turn on javascript, etc, it is the same version of javascript that everyone else's browser supports. The onus to author sites which degrade gracefully with feature loss remains. That isnt the point. The point is not to code for different versions of the same set of features. For example, links (not lynx) does a better job with xhtml/css sites than NN4.7 despite being a text mode browser.

If designers didnt have to continually muck about with multiple dom versions, maybe they would have more time to devote to actual content. If designers didnt have to fill pages with font tags, with tables, with placement gifs, maybe pages would download and render that much faster. Everyone wins here.

Web designers, as a whole, are one of the biggest "who cares if we should do it -- let's do it because we can" crowd I've ever seen.

That is an unfair categorization of professional designers who understand full well that design is subordinate to, and exists only for, the presentation of _content_ in the clearest most functional manner. Designs that make you think "cool" just before you back out and never revisit the site are judged failures by professional designers.

If there was an HTML tag to check your refrigerator's temperature, 80% of the websites would check your refrigerator's temperature, just because "they can".

Forget about <fridgeTemp> tags, just give us a working css and dom that works across all browsers.

I support Zeldman's initiative. I can commiserate with people who feel put upon to upgrade from legacy software but, by the same token, those people have precisely zero cause for complaint when designers feel put upon to support broken software.

The browser wars are over, the w3c standards and recommendations have won. They are complete, comprehensive and supported (more or less) by at least one browser in every platform.

The only thing that is "Really silly" here is people who resist free, working software. "Yeah but I have a 386 with only 4 megs of ram." Cool. But not a reason to marginalize the other 99.99% of the web audience.

---
God hates human rights.
[ Parent ]

Re: Really silly (4.00 / 1) (#17)
by iGrrrl on Sun Feb 18, 2001 at 02:54:40 PM EST

That is an unfair categorization of professional designers who understand full well that design is subordinate to, and exists only for, the presentation of _content_ in the clearest most functional manner.
By that definition (which I like) I'd guess that "professional web designers" are not behind the majority of even commercial web sites. But that's just my (never very) humble opinion combined with some experience and conversation with true professionals.

--
You cannot have a reasonable conversation with someone who regards other people as toys to be played with. localroger
remove apostrophe for email.
[ Parent ]

Those elitists in their castle in the clouds (none / 0) (#18)
by evvk on Sun Feb 18, 2001 at 06:11:57 PM EST

> The only thing that is "Really silly" here is people who resist free, working software. "Yeah but I have a 386 with only 4 megs of ram." Cool. But not a reason to marginalize the other 99.99% of the web audience

Yeah, right. Do you think everyone wants to or can afford to upgrade computers all the time? I don't think so, but tpeople forced to do so because of crappy software. Some of us, like I, just resist it and keep on using older software that works perfectly well on older hardware.
Just sit in your castle in the clouds and code for the latest hardware because you have it and in your geekdom don't have better things to waste your money on but bragging with your latest acquisitionse with X GHz etc., the company bought it or daddy bought it, but remember that other people might have better uses for the money. We should not have to buy new computers all the time. We don't have to buy new cars or stereos or whatever home electronics all the time. The old ones work just fine.


[ Parent ]
Not 386... (none / 0) (#19)
by evvk on Sun Feb 18, 2001 at 06:15:08 PM EST

And I was not talking of 386s but pentium class machines. There's no talking of running Mozilla on my system, it is just so damn slow and unresponsive. IE would work, but it needs Windows so no win there either.


[ Parent ]
Re: Not 386... (5.00 / 1) (#21)
by eLuddite on Sun Feb 18, 2001 at 06:40:19 PM EST

I specifically mentioned links for a reason. I specifically pointed out that the point is to use a browser that, when it does not degrade features, uses _standard_ features instead of its own. I dont care how bad a page looks on your browser, only that I dont have to code for your browser, specifically.

---
God hates human rights.
[ Parent ]

:tcejbuS (none / 0) (#33)
by Holloway on Mon Feb 19, 2001 at 06:58:48 PM EST

I dont care how bad a page looks on your browser, only that I dont have to code for your browser, specifically

I certainly hope you never run a businesses website ;) Having an ugly website because of some markup language standard isn't something the public can understand and they shouldn't be expected to - they see the web as printed paper and if it looks broken they believe it's your fault (and it is).

As someone else said: "The lack of attention to standards by browser developers is not the users' problem. Like it or not, it's the developers and the designers who have the responsibility for ensuring it doesn't affect the users' experience or the site will fail and they'll all be out of a job."

A backlash against webdesigners has caused a far-swing to the other side - most people will jump off a cliff for standards. Rather, throw users off a cliff for standards. The user isn't at fault - smoke and mirrors are required for several years yet to ensure the user isn't hurt by bad browsers.

OT: CSS helps a little in seperating content from design but various platforms need their own style-sheets to specify colour depth, font-size, etc. Unless the website is entirely text then HTML cannot be cleanly seperated from design. CSS helps, but HTML defines the width of images which may be too big for a small display, or too small for a big display - or too colourful for a black and white display: for example, a red and a green appear as a indistinguishable grey when viewed on a black and white display. Many decisions are device dependant and browser dependant even in the reign of XHTML/CSS. Everything's different, everything's the same.


== Human's wear pants, if they don't wear pants they stand out in a crowd. But if a monkey didn't wear pants it would be anonymous

[ Parent ]

tcejbuS :eR (4.00 / 2) (#34)
by eLuddite on Mon Feb 19, 2001 at 09:40:58 PM EST

I certainly hope you never run a businesses website ;) Having an ugly website because of some markup language standard isn't something the public can understand and they shouldn't be expected to - they see the web as printed paper and if it looks broken they believe it's your fault (and it is).

Wrong answer; I wouldnt design anything fancier than Yahoo! or eBay, anyway. Designers routinely overestimate the importance of their design thinking that it "breaks" if it isnt pixel perfect, or that anyone gives a damn if it is.

The user isn't at fault - smoke and mirrors are required for several years yet to ensure the user isn't hurt by bad browsers.

It's appropriate that you (generic "designers" you) lie in the bed you make for yourselves. This wouldnt be an issue for _me_ because _I_ design popular sites, not pretty sites. Furthermore, because I design to the reference (w3c) instead of the implementation (browser), I design them exactly once. I measure my skill as a designer according to how well it degrades in less than optimal browsers, not that it look the same in all browsers.

---
God hates human rights.
[ Parent ]

You are missing the point (1.00 / 1) (#39)
by Jim Dabell on Sun Feb 25, 2001 at 06:54:23 PM EST

Just sit in your castle in the clouds and code for the latest hardware because you have it and in your geekdom don't have better things to waste your money on but bragging with your latest acquisitionse with X GHz

Oh, stop whining. Promoting standards that the latest browsers support is not wrong. The standards are written to degrade gracefully, so browsers that don't support the standard will work fine. The problem browsers are those that are just plain broken when it comes to the "newer" standards. Read that as meaning "it's OK to use Netscape 3, but be warned that if you use Netscape 4, it has bugs which will stop this site from rendering properly".

On the subject of money, do you know how expensive it is to cater to broken browsers? How much time is spent on finding nasty hacks that obscure the design, just so that Netscape 4 can actually view a site? Do you know how much money could be saved on development costs, if separating content from presentation was easier, and you didn't have to hire people who know every single browser bug just to get a decent layout? Did you stop to consider that the average quality of non-professional websites would only increase if the general public could understand the code, instead of relying on substandard "wysiwyg" tools?



[ Parent ]
WASP? Uh oh... (3.00 / 1) (#4)
by ncohen on Sat Feb 17, 2001 at 11:59:04 PM EST

WASP? Uh, for all the pretty, non-functional graphics these web designers can come up with, they sure don't check their acronyms often. Reminds me of a Simpsons quote... (from snpp)

Announcer: It's the Krusty Komedy Klassic!
Krusty: Hey, hey! It's great to be back at the Apollo Theater, and... [notices the letters behind him] K-K-K? That's not good...

-----
"(A+Bn)/n = x, hence God exists, reply!"

Not all designers are evil, some are just wicked. (3.75 / 4) (#5)
by Jin Wicked on Sun Feb 18, 2001 at 12:52:05 AM EST

I personally think that having standards and encouraging them is a good thing. I'm not a web designer professionally, but I do maintain my own homepage, and it's terribly frustrating making a webpage that I can be sure works in every browser. I especially care that my site works in a text-only browser, like Lynx, because I want visually impaired people or those on very slow connections to be able to access it. I always make it a point to use alt tags now, and I check my pages in multiple browsers, including Lynx. (Ok, well, my friend does that last one for me.) I am slowly learning CSS2. I want to keep up with standards.

If I have an element that I am aware works only in one browser or another, I don't use it. If there could be some general agreement on what is and isn't compatible, and that's actually followed, it would be alot easier for me to design things. Right now I'm in the process of redoing my whole site, and the new one is going to have my artwork come up in pop-up windows. The menu also has some javascript mouseovers. For a very long time, I've tried to keep my sites as simple as I could, and I realize that there are many people that hate javascript or have it turned off. I've finally "outgrown" the limits of simple HTML, though, and I can't hold out on using these things anymore. You can't expect me to sit there and not want to push what I can do to the limits. Still, I try to be considerate about it...

I'd REALLY appreciate some consistency between these browsers, and some sort of statistics, possibly, on what the average level of adherance to the set standards is. I'm not sure what the solution is, but something needs to be done about this. Everytime something new comes out that old browsers don't support, it just compounds the problem and makes my and thousands of other people's hobbies and jobs that much more difficult.


This post was probably not written by the real Jin Wicked. Please see user "butter pie" for Jin's actual posts.


Heh. (2.50 / 2) (#9)
by evvk on Sun Feb 18, 2001 at 04:43:45 AM EST

Maybe they'll (wasp) buy me a new, quiet computer (I don't want all those fans most new computer have!) so I can run bloatzilla on it? Otherwise I'll keep running netscape 3.0. It is much nicer than the newer versions anyway. I'm not going to buy a computer for running a browser. After Opera deciding to put banner ads in the free version, I'm not going to give them any money even if the Linux version ever becomes usable (read: when there's SDI version). Ads are just absolutely evil.

A better solution than users upgrading browsers would be to downgrade HTML to 2.0 (perhaps simple tables for tabular data, not layout kludges what they're now used for.) Or upgrade the web designers to ones that don't care about fancy crap but usability. Wait! No one that cultivated would want to do something as lowly as design web pages.

So, what do you do for a living? (3.00 / 2) (#16)
by regeya on Sun Feb 18, 2001 at 01:36:43 PM EST

Ads are just absolutely evil.

So what's your chosen line of work? I'm wondering so I can so denounce it as being pure evil without learning a damn thing about it first. (Granted, I'm not working in the world of advertising ATM...but it still annoys the piss out of me when people talk out their asses about ads being "pure evil" when they don't know a damn thing about the business.)

[ yokelpunk | kuro5hin diary ]
[ Parent ]

It isn't easy being a ... (4.00 / 1) (#20)
by mdavids on Sun Feb 18, 2001 at 06:33:40 PM EST

And I once heard a small-time gangster in my local pub complaining about what a day he'd had, and how hard he works. Nearly broke my heart. People who don't understand a thing about the thuggery business can be so insensitive.

Same thing probably goes for advertising branch of the propaganda industry.



[ Parent ]
Re: It isn't easy being a ... (none / 0) (#23)
by eLuddite on Sun Feb 18, 2001 at 09:18:15 PM EST

I hear you, brother, stroke that mojo genie. We really should have a Ministry of Product Information instead of "advertising branches of the propaganda industry" cuz like, you know, how's a poor oppressed victim of capitalist banditry going to learn where to spend his zlotys.

---
God hates human rights.
[ Parent ]

Uh.... (5.00 / 1) (#24)
by regeya on Sun Feb 18, 2001 at 10:33:26 PM EST

Damn you. I am NOT a fucking GANGSTER!

So what the FUCK do you do for a living?

[ yokelpunk | kuro5hin diary ]
[ Parent ]

Whoops, sorry (none / 0) (#30)
by mdavids on Mon Feb 19, 2001 at 07:07:55 AM EST

Sorry about that. In retrospect I find I should have been a bit less offhand in the way I put that.

I didn't mean to imply that advertising is necessarily morally equivalent to protection racketeering, merely that one doesn't need to know every detail about how an activity is carried out before one can reasonably form a moral objection to the practice.

Now there is a case that can be made, and in my view a persuasive one, that influencing public opinion through appeals to emotion rather than reason is a dangerous practice. Arguably it doesn't matter whether I choose to drink a particular brand of cola based on an assessment of it's taste and nutritional value, or based on my emotional attachment to the brand, what the brand says about my self-image and so on. But it seems pretty clear to me that when we step into the territory of "advocacy advertising" serious moral questions arise.

And there is the broader issue of what happens to a society where the culture is immersed in messages of "happiness and self-fulfillment can be attained though buying products".

None of these concerns about what the industry does are addressed by an examination of how it does it.

The "what the FUCK do you do for a living?" question is a legitimate one. Nobody who earns a wage can be morally pure. We do what we're told or we're out on our ass. I don't think there are many people who don't recognise this. I think that it's probably safe to assume that in most cases a criticism of advertising isn't a personal criticism of people who work in the industry. We all live in glass houses.



[ Parent ]
OT: I'm SO happy. (none / 0) (#32)
by Holloway on Mon Feb 19, 2001 at 06:07:01 PM EST

And there is the broader issue of what happens to a society where the culture is immersed in messages of "happiness and self-fulfillment can be attained though buying products".

Slightly OT: One thing I dislike about some anti-advertisers is that there's the idea that people are ignorant of what they really want; that products can't make them happy. Products do make me happy - and other things too - but every time I get into my new red car (BROOOM!) and think of my old muddy-green 1982 Ford Laser it makes me smile and makes me happy.

I am not mistaken in my happiness.


== Human's wear pants, if they don't wear pants they stand out in a crowd. But if a monkey didn't wear pants it would be anonymous

[ Parent ]

OFF-TOPIC tangent: Evil Advertising (none / 0) (#38)
by spaceghoti on Fri Feb 23, 2001 at 02:09:42 PM EST

...it still annoys the piss out of me when people talk out their asses about ads being "pure evil" when they don't know a damn thing about the business.

Let's talk about this for just a moment, shall we? I know it's dreadfully off-topic, but it's near and dear to my heart.

I'm a LAN Admin for a small development group at a World Famous Company (I shan't mention names). This development group develops and supports software for massive data entry and tables. Oracle is our friend, believe me. The problem is that the data entry tables are used exclusively by telemarketers. You know, those guys who call up and ask, "are you satisfied with your long distance carrier?"

Given the admission above, I now freely admit that I support and make possible one of the greatest evils of our time. Telemarketers are a logical extension of advertising. The problem is whether or not the consumers are given a choice about the advertising pushed in their faces. Nobody likes to be waiting for an important phone call or simply to be eating dinner when the phone rings and the caller asks if you're interested in taking part in a marketing survey. A lot of people are taking advantage of options provided by the phone company to block telemarketers. People don't like pushy, aggressive advertisers. We call it spam and we want it to die, die, die.

So let's look at the world of the Internet. I have an email address I'd prefer to use as my primary, but it keeps getting flooded with advertisements. "Find Out Anything About Anyone!" is a favorite. "Spend only a few (hundred) dollars to buy millions of email addresses!" is another one (and boy do I hunt down those guys). As a result I tend to ask my friends to email me somewhere else and consider killing that one account just so I won't have to wade through those spam emails all the time.

That sets the scene. Given all of that, why in the world would I want to suffer banner ads on my browser? I can't turn them off. I can't make them go away. I either suffer with them or I uninstall the browser and use something else that doesn't have them. I don't use Juno email anymore, largely for that reason. I stopped using a wonderful proxy service because they started forcing a frame onto my browser for advertising. I migrated my website two times because the host started forcing banner ads I couldn't disable, and I don't want my website associated with advertising. I don't even watch television that much anymore, partly because I find that the quality of content is demeaning and partly because the amount of advertising is insane. If I want to advertise something, I'll choose when and what I wish to promote.

Advertising isn't inherently evil in and of itself. I'm all for supporting everyone's right to make a buck. But advertising is evil because it's abused way too much. I shouldn't have to go to extreme efforts to not have to listen/read to someone's Deal of the Century, but a lot of advertisers seem to consider it their god-given right to post their ads without any recourse but to shut down the program you wanted to use for other purposes. It's very simple: if I'm interested in a line of products, I'll go look. If they're pushed on me, I don't want any. That concept seems to escape far too many people.

Okay, I'm done ranting now. We now return you to your regularly scheduled topic.



"Humor. It is a difficult concept. It is not logical." -Saavik, ST: Wrath of Khan

[ Parent ]
CSS is always optional, and Netscape 3 is fine (none / 0) (#25)
by driptray on Sun Feb 18, 2001 at 11:16:33 PM EST

Maybe they'll (wasp) buy me a new, quiet computer (I don't want all those fans most new computer have!) so I can run bloatzilla on it? Otherwise I'll keep running netscape 3.0.

You misunderstand. There is no major problem with Netscape 3. The problem that WASP is trying to alleviate are the browsers that have buggy support for CSS. Netscape 3 has no CSS support, and therefore is perfectly capable of viewing sites that use CSS.

Read that last sentence again - it's not a mistake. One of the valid ways for a browser to deal with CSS is to ignore it. Netscape 3 and Lynx are perfectly CSS compliant, and the new ALA pages should render fine (if differently) in them.


--
We brought the disasters. The alcohol. We committed the murders. - Paul Keating
[ Parent ]
Not even the lowest common denominator works (4.40 / 5) (#10)
by jesterzog on Sun Feb 18, 2001 at 05:34:57 AM EST

I usually don't agree with WASP's often forceful way of campaigning, but I still can't wait for the majority of people to upgrade to a point that proper standards are actually usable - if that's even possible. I can sympathise with the To Hell With Bad Browsers thing.

In the last few months I've been putting together a small informational campaign website, for which I decided to go the full distance with standards: pure markup at the lowest common denominator. I'm just sick of having to put kludges everywhere to make up for kruddy browser designs.

The html all over the site validates to xhtml 1.0 strict. Tags don't go beyond the very basic.. (body, p, ul, ol, li, etc), with some spans and div's thrown in there too. I've steered completely away from tables, and I'm only planning to use them for anything that would actually fit in a table logically. (No layout.)

Now in theory, any browser since mosaic should be able to comfortably show this site, barring a potential clash with the xml system of having a / at the end of solo tags. I've made it so without the css, it's still very readable.

It's too bad that after all I've done that isn't the case. I had to put in an ugly kludge to get around Netscape 4 to force it to ignore the style sheets altogether, because I've given up on trying to work around all it's css mis-interpretations and bugs. It was just lucky that NS4 has another bug that prevents it from finding the style sheet under certain circumstances.

Just a few days ago I had a report from someone using IE4 that it wasn't displaying properly. I can't conveniently replicate it because of all the hassle downgrading IE, but it just sounds strange. According to his report, the first 10 or so words of one paragraph has been chopped off, even though there's nothing in the html markup to make that particular point in the paragraph significant.

Remember that this is fully validating xhtml strict. I'm guessing it's just another transitional browser bug, where IE4 thinks it knows more than it does about css, and as a result has randomly screwed up lots of other things.

This is the reason that I don't ever want to be a commercial web designer. It's too stressful, and it's awkward explaining to friends why I don't want to design websites for them. Even the lowest common denominator isn't working properly.


jesterzog Fight the light


Standards don't work yet -- expect breakage. (4.00 / 1) (#12)
by Holloway on Sun Feb 18, 2001 at 06:23:06 AM EST

(OT: That's what I don't get about many webdesigners. Programmers, in general, love hacks that get software working better. Most web designers get annoyed at having to write four versions. I regard this as part of the job and love trying to understand the logic and process of various rendering engines. Many webdesigners are a moaning bunch, that's for sure.)

I don't tease myself thinking that standards work in browsers, or that one page will ever work in all of them, so I don't get annoyed at the hacks. I think the hatred of webdesigners fueled a mindless love of web standards which will eventually pay off but at the moment do not (for many types of browsers). You cannot obey the standards and have it work in browsers. Hacks will stick around for a while longer.

A lovely quote on this HTML list: "If you're not coding for what works, then to some degree, I think you're just jerking off."

ps. What's the URL of the page broken in IE4? I have that pesky browser on a machine here. IE4 sometimes has a problem with aligned elements masking others.


== Human's wear pants, if they don't wear pants they stand out in a crowd. But if a monkey didn't wear pants it would be anonymous

[ Parent ]

the broken page (none / 0) (#29)
by jesterzog on Mon Feb 19, 2001 at 05:58:43 AM EST

ps. What's the URL of the page broken in IE4? I have that pesky browser on a machine here. IE4 sometimes has a problem with aligned elements masking others.

It's the one I lined to in the original message: http://homepages.paradise.net.nz/~zog/lowlight/

The person was reporting that it was 1.5 times the width of his screen at 800x600, and for some unknown reason the first 10 or so words in the first of the two quote paragraphs weren't printed. He checked the source and it was completely normal, so I'm assuming it's some sort of rendering bug.

Thanks for the input.


jesterzog Fight the light


[ Parent ]
curious (none / 0) (#35)
by gregholmes on Tue Feb 20, 2001 at 05:55:04 AM EST

Just out of curiosity, why does each menu item need its own DIV?



[ Parent ]
No special reason (none / 0) (#36)
by jesterzog on Thu Feb 22, 2001 at 08:57:04 PM EST

No particular reason. It's partly because I'm still working out good strategies for completely formatting things with external css. There was a reason for giving each menu item it's own block element, but right now I forget exactly what it was.

I think it might have been something about being able to easily classify different blocks of things as menu items, no matter where they were on the page.


jesterzog Fight the light


[ Parent ]
... what about the users? (5.00 / 4) (#11)
by Mabb on Sun Feb 18, 2001 at 05:59:28 AM EST

You know, the issue of programmers/developers/designers gold-plating a web site is one that I deal with all the time as a project manager with a huge interest in usability issues.

Both parties are as guilty as each other of wanting to play with groovy toys when the site owner just wants a site that's "good enough" and on time (shock!).

The worst scenario is when the owner is also either in truth or in desire, the designer. ergl.

In all of these contests, the user is the forgotten element. What do they want? What do they need? Why should they visit the site? Why should they come back? Why shouldn't they go elsewhere for the same thing?

One of the biggest usability no-no's is attempting to force browser/resolution/colour/font/text-size/I-could-go-on conformation. It doesn't work and pisses people off.

WASPs campaign is NOT an excellent goal. As Holloway points out, their justification is spurious. The lack of attention to standards by browser developers is not the users' problem. Like it or not, it's the developers and the designers who have the responsibility for ensuring it doesn't affect the users' experience or the site will fail and they'll all be out of a job. We've all seen plenty of examples of that - boo.com for one.

WASP (of whom I have never heard) should be lobbying NS, MS and others to change, not the users. Their program is a lost cause anyway since the average joe and josephine out there on the net has probably never heard of them either.

Anyone connected with developing a web site should be focussed on the goals of the site (which of course are the same as goals of the users if they're smart developers), not the toys they can use to impress their friends. Browser compatibility is frustrating, but it's a fact of life. Build a bridge!




QuiltBlog: WIP, SEX, WOW, MQ, LQS, HST...

WaSP do lobby browser makers (4.00 / 1) (#13)
by Holloway on Sun Feb 18, 2001 at 06:33:43 AM EST

WaSP do lobby browser makers with the thwock of enrolled web developers. They review browsers and often blast them for breaking standards. I think they were the main ones that asked Netscape/Mozilla.org to scrap the old netscape codebase. They pop up regularly on Slashdot just search for "Web Standards" - and you might be interested in their interview with Zeldman where he mentions WaSP a little.


== Human's wear pants, if they don't wear pants they stand out in a crowd. But if a monkey didn't wear pants it would be anonymous

[ Parent ]
Re:...What about the users? (none / 0) (#37)
by SubtleSeer on Thu Feb 22, 2001 at 09:05:17 PM EST

I think that the trade off should be based on usability and creativity. The web has evolved from being a platform that merely exchanges information, to a medium of mediums.

So creating an effective website hinges on the ability to harness the capabilities of the browsers because the "standards" are not what the user is being exposed to. Many project managers go on and on about what they want, but they are not usually doing the designing. Being a programmer and a web designer, I like having the option to design in Flash, or plain HTML. I agree that 300k Flash movies are just ridiculous.

I actually favor doing hybrid sites where flash is used for the creation of versatile user interfaces that control and expose html to the user in a more interactive manner. I have found that using some of these technologies in relation to one another is better than opting for one technology because we have our self-righteous preferences. The SWF format is wide open, so what is preventing Web Programmers from extending it to be more user friendly on the UI and code level? Indeed, these questions should be made in a development environment.

It is a fact that at least 85% or more of all web users are surfing with Internet Explorer 4 or higher, and the cross browser problem can easily be solved by developing and optimizing code that has been tested to work on most major browsers and reusing it. It is not difficult to write a JavaScript, Vbscript, or Perl script that detects the objects of the browser and loads the appropriate page, CSS, and User Interface. All of this should be processed on the server side and dumped to the client. That way they never know the difference.

[ Parent ]
Bad browsers do need to die (4.00 / 7) (#14)
by Delirium on Sun Feb 18, 2001 at 07:08:54 AM EST

While I agree that WaSP may be a bit unrealistic or overly forceful in their methods, they do have a valid point. Several widely-used older browsers are simply broken. This is not a problem with them being old per se, but with them actually being broken - if they only supported up to HTML 3.0, but supported it properly, that would not be nearly as much of a problem. In particular, Netscape 4.x is utter crap. Nothing renders properly in that monstrosity except for things specifically designed for Netscape 4.x. The sooner it gets replaced, the better.

While there are problems with all of the modern browsers, for the most part if you are using Opera 4 or 5, IE 5, or Netscape 6 (or Mozilla), most standard HTML will render reasonably close to how it should.

So please, don't run Netscape 4.x.

There is a lot of confusion on this issue (4.50 / 6) (#15)
by gregholmes on Sun Feb 18, 2001 at 11:08:50 AM EST

In fairness, the WASP initiative isn't very clear about it. The problem isn't old browsers per se, it is buggy browsers ala Netscape4. Merely old browsers can be perfectly usable with standard compliant pages. NS4, however, thinks that it can do, say, CSS-positioning, and makes a Dali painting or crashes. Lynx ignores the positioning styling and displays a perfectly usable (if properly designed), although boring, page.



Browsers claimed to support the standard long ago. (3.66 / 3) (#22)
by mdavids on Sun Feb 18, 2001 at 07:09:39 PM EST

Of course browsers didn't adopt the standard until late 1999, they weren't vaguely stable until 2000.

That's not true. Microsoft CLAIMED to support CSS Level 1 from IE3 on; Netscape from Navigator 4. I don't know where you got 1999 from.

I agree that the WaSP color scheme is appalling, but that's a reflection of Zeldman's personal tastes, not anything to do with CSS.

The goal of separating style from content in a way that maintains backwards compatability with HTML3.2 was not an inevitably unacheivable pipe dream. The standards work fine, but the problem is that Microsoft and Netscape deliberately sabotaged the process by circulating broken implementations of the standards.

If they simply chose not to implement these standards until now (as you seem to believe is the case), we'd be fine. If they'd bothered to implement them properly, even better. But they pursued partial compliance, with the inevitable proprietary extensions, presumably fully aware (unless they're total idiots) that the consequence would be that CSS would be rendered unusable for years.

In this context, the WSP's position is not unreasonable, although the headline-grabbing way they've framed their arguments is regrettable. Something must be done to educate people that they are using software that was designed to be broken, and that they have other options. Web sites can't continue to carry the cost of Microsoft and Netscape's destructive folly.



An explanation. (none / 0) (#27)
by Holloway on Mon Feb 19, 2001 at 12:47:23 AM EST

Microsoft didn't support CSS level one in IE3, it has numerous errors [proof]: "In addition to these deficiencies, Internet Explorer3.0 seems altogether incapable of cascading. For instance, it will not combine (and duly cascade) styles included in either multiple STYLE blocks, or a combination of a linked style sheet and one or more STYLE blocks.". Netscape 4 didn't support CSS-1, everyone knows it was a buggy and inconsistent implementation; Mozilla is better. Internet Explorer 4 didn't support CSS-1. Internet Explorer 5 supports it enough. Opera 4 supported some (I think). Which is where I got got my fuzzy 1999 from.

I have no problem with ALA's colour scheme, Netscape 4 (win32) overlaps the two divs and makes the text illegible.

Making a site unusable in any browser at the expense of standards is similarly dumb to putting an entire site in flash. Implement standards by all means - but don't run off a cliff for them. 4.0 browsers are a pain, but they are the legacy webdesigners have to deal with.


== Human's wear pants, if they don't wear pants they stand out in a crowd. But if a monkey didn't wear pants it would be anonymous

[ Parent ]

ARgh... make that.. (none / 0) (#28)
by Holloway on Mon Feb 19, 2001 at 12:49:30 AM EST

http://www.endoframe.com/css/ie3.html


== Human's wear pants, if they don't wear pants they stand out in a crowd. But if a monkey didn't wear pants it would be anonymous

[ Parent ]
WASP has made a big mistake (4.16 / 6) (#26)
by driptray on Sun Feb 18, 2001 at 11:51:39 PM EST

While I support the general aims of WASP here, the way they use their "ahem" class shows how they have badly misunderstood the solutions to the problem. They have forgotten that CSS is, by definition, optional.

See their tips page, and in particular their "Method 2". The "ahem" class is used to hide their browser upgrade message from CSS conforming browsers. It works on the principle that any browser that supports CSS will parse the display:none style, and therefore not show the upgrade message.

This is both wrong in fact, and in intent. Here's why:

  • A CSS supporting browser may have CSS turned off by the user. This user will then get a message to update their browser, despite the fact that it is perfectly good.
  • Browsers that have no support for CSS will see the browser update message, yet there is no reason for these browsers to be updated. Browsers are free to ignore CSS, and this is explicitly allowed in the CSS specs! It is actually an intrinsic part of the CSS philosophy - that CSS consists of presentational suggestions that users/browsers can freely ignore. The content will still shine through.

WASP claims to want to open the web for the new range of browsers on the horizon, running on PDAs, cell phones, in cars etc. Unless these new browsers support CSS (and there's no reason why they have to), they'll be getting an ugly "browser update" message that will be completely irrelevant to them.

I can only guess why WASP has made this error, but it seems to me that in their new-found love affair with CSS, they have become unable to imagine their web site without it. They advocate "liquid" design, yet have forgotten that one of the characteristics of that "liquidity" is the end-user's decision whether to use a CSS capable brower.


--
We brought the disasters. The alcohol. We committed the murders. - Paul Keating
Version 5 brosers?!? (5.00 / 1) (#40)
by Ronin SpoilSpot on Mon Mar 05, 2001 at 08:32:40 AM EST

Just one rant... WHAT THE F.... IS A VERSION 4.0 BROWSER? ...and version 5 too. Is Galeon v0.10.1 a version 5 browser? (yes, I guess so, at elast it accepts the same HTML as Mozilla). There is no Netscape v5. Is Mozilla/Netscape 6 a version 5 or a version 6 browser? For some unobvious reason people equate browser version numbers with browser features (browser writers included), even though there is no sane reason to do so. Apparently you have to have the same version number as the newest MS browser or people will think you are obsolete. Ofcourse this is in no way a new idea. Wordprocessors and office packages have been doing that until Microsoft started using years instead. Guess we just have to wait for Mozilla 2001 , IE 2001, Galeon 2K1 , Opera Milennium Ed. or whatever. Anyway... just needed to scream! /SS '90% of everything is crap'
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WaSP urges users to upgrade their browsers. | 40 comments (36 topical, 4 editorial, 1 hidden)
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