September 15th, 2002, 02:19 PM
99.9% of Websites Are Obsolete
These sites may look and work all right in mainstream, desktop browsers whose names end in the numbers 4 or 5. But outside these fault-tolerant environments, the symptoms of disease and decay have already started to appear.
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September 15th, 2002, 02:30 PM
Indeed, this is a real problem that noone (apparently including AO) really seems to have got the idea of how to write modern sensible and standards-compliant HTML.
Part of the problem is that they often test it using browsers with broken CSS implementations - want to centre an element in the page? In all versions of IE that support CSS the standard way of doing it doesn't work (i.e. set left and right margin widths to auto) - therefore for the majority of users, centring your element the "correct" way won't actually appear. Instead you end up using deprecated elements to do the same thing.
Quite a few browsers have working CSS implementations - for instance Konqueror, Opera and especially Mozilla - however designers ignore them because they're generally outside of the mainstream.
The main problem isn't with unsupported CSS styles (CSS is fairly good at handling this), but with browsers with completely broken CSS implementations (notably the terrible and now completely unsupported Netscape 4 - to a lesser extent many versions of IE which have more subtly broken things)
The other snag, is that designers who come along and *INSIST* that your site looks pixel-perfect to their design they've come up with (which of course looked right in Photoshop and IE5.5 exactly on their Mac) to every punter on the planet.
Therefore, to prevent them from being annoyed when people with obsolete browsers turn up, you end up with heaps of legacy HTML to make tiny visual adjustments for a tiny proprtion of users - which just clogs the page up for everyone else.
I think they should
1. Use CSS
2. Abolish the use of <font>, <center>, align= and other similarly deprecated elements (there are a few cases where align isn't deprecated in HTML4)
3. Ideally write XHTML and ensure that it's well formed XML
4. Ignore user agents with broken CSS implementations, but don't ignore ones with partial CSS implementations (this is surprisingly easy)
Look at the source for this page. Don't you just *love* the way "AntiOnline dynamically created this page for you in 0.304062 seconds : 56 queries executed" appears after the end of the <body> and even <html> elements?
September 15th, 2002, 03:18 PM
This is a very interesting article and I think that it's scope extends beyond web browsers. A lot of the mainstream software manufacturers have to deal with this kind of problem as well by being forced to write code to be backwards compatible with old operating systems and prior versions of thiers and other companies products. Examples are Windows95 and Microsoft Word. Because there is some portion of the population that has just never upgraded some companies feel that they must support every OS API implementation there is. Microsoft includes compatability in Word with WordPerfect 5.0. Everywhere this is done leads to bloated code and wasted space on your PC's hard drive.
I believe that the main problem is that technology evolves faster than the general population's ability to keep up with it. Companies can't really justify telling people that in order to upgrade products they have paid for that they have to upgrade hardware and OS every year. So we are in the situation that we are in because of that.
In regard to the article and what we can do? First I believe that the responsibility for maintaining clean and efficient code is the responsibility of the developer. If a company wants to have it's website appear the same on every flavor of browser then they need to write separate versions for each browser. When a browser makes a request to a server for a page, the server should take the header information and decide what markup to return to the browser. This is definitely possible because the industry standards require browsers to send the browser type as part of the HTTP request. As for websites like AntiOnline that generate markup dynamically, their code producing algorithms should be written to take the browser version into account when building markup. All decision making needs to happen on the server side, because the browser should be regarded as more of a dumb terminal than a client-side processing tool.
I think that the only other option is to force every browser developer to conform to the same standards and force every user to upgrade to the latest version, which I think we all know will never happen.
September 15th, 2002, 06:17 PM
I don't know if XML will ever really catch on. Yeah its supposed be the next generation of HTML but who uses it. I worked a a web hosting company that hosted over 200,000 websites and I don't remember any websites that used XML. Frontpage is by far the most common generator type of program. PHP and ASP have really taken of in the last couple of years. So who knows what the next standard will be.
September 15th, 2002, 10:14 PM
Totally true. I am currently designing and I make good use of CSS. I try to have the least possible font tags etc. Mostly its <span class="class">text</span>. Eventually, everyone should make the switch. Browsers are evolving, and they are going to set requirements on inputted code. Its just a question of who going to begin with it and loose customers because in their browser, "sites look crappy". While its actually the site that fails and not the browser. But hey, Its just a matter of time.
September 16th, 2002, 12:53 AM
Very informative post, the_JinX, this is the kind of information and attention to the point that I like to see. Thank you for this info. I have been jumping around most of the day after following the link you gave. I have learned alot about web design I never even thought about. This will definately save me time developing my site. I have my own web server on a fiber connection to the internet, I am just now finalising the software installations and configs. I will be using this server to build an auction/classifieds/message board e-commerce site.
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