the reason i started ...

13 August 2001

the reason i started messing around with all this making my html and css meet standards is that i happened upon the browser upgrade initiative. on the face of it the concept of asking people to upgrade to recent software is just about as close as anything gets to being against my religion. the software that you have ought to be usable forever. you don’t need to change it to incorporate the latest technology gimmicks unless you desire those gimmicks. the copy of wordstar that you’ve been using since 1983 will still print out your letters on your daisy wheel printer from now until forever, and if you never want to do more then there is no reason you should buy the latest fancy multimedia pc. this is what i believe in. your software should never become obsolete.

the same should be true of browsers. the markup on this site which features fancy stuff from the html 4.1 specification and uses cascading stylesheets ought to display just fine on a web browser out of the ark. fire up netscape 1 or 2 and i’ll bet you it’s a pretty readable example of mid nineties web browsing. the problem is that web browsers all started doing their own damn things, adding tags and gimmicks and only implementing half of the standard specification. which means that stuff doesn’t degrade gracefully in half of the old web browsers.

i’ve been a netscape fan since it was in beta. i was loyal for a long time after they started producing rubbish, for a long time after there was no longer any netscape to be loyal to as it got swallowed up by shark after shark. i felt i’d had a microscopic part in the rise of netscape using their software from afar, but time warner don’t inspire allegiance in me. but that’s not the reason i’ve finally, just about, chucked netscape 4 in the bin.

netscape 4’s just not good enough. it was never standards compliant. i was blind to it back when i thought ie was the instrument of satan but it’s a bloody lousy browser to design anything for. html is supposed to be a browser independent standard. i’m fed up of making web pages and having to check them in numerous different browsers because you aren’t just checking that your standard html works, you’re checking that the browsers work everytime. and life’s too short to go round making up for the fact that netscape 4’s programmers arsed up. they could’ve done it properly and saved us all a whole caboodle box worth of time.

so i’m abandoning netscape 4. sorry. it’s not that it’s obsolete software, it’s that it should never have been made to start with. it was never right. there are better browsers out there that try to meet the standards. i’m using ie 5.5 and opera 5 on windows platforms. netscape 6 has some way to go but netscape 6.1 on linux looks lovely. so it’s more important to me than ever that the html on the web meets the standards that are written doen for it. i’ll keep my end of the standards bargain and the browser makers had better keep theirs. i don’t want to see any software in this state again.