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davorg (18)

Yahoo! ID: daveorguk (Add User, Send Message)

Hacker, author, trainer

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Journal of davorg (18)

Thursday May 27, 2004
03:02 AM

Browser Wars Followup

[ #18961 ]

The Guardian today published two letters continuing the browser debates that I mentioned last week.

Unfortunately they thought better of publishing my letter, so I'm sharing it with you here.

Walter Gladwin suggests that web sites which only work in Internet Explorer are not broken and that rather than using an "inferior browser" we should all use IE and email Netscape telling them to improve their browser. This argument is flawed on many levels.

Firstly, Internet Explorer is only available on two platforms (various versions of Windows and the Mac). Many people who are using other operating systems or who access the web from devices other than PCs (PDAs, mobile phones, WebTV, etc) do not have the option of using IE. This is obviously a small proportion of the web-surfing public, but their numbers are growing.

Secondly, many non-IE browsers are not "inferior" to IE. While it's true that only IE has support for some Microsoft technologies like ActiveX, other browsers like Mozilla have far superior support for web standards like CSS and Unicode.

Thirdly, many of the sites that claim not to work in other browsers will, in fact, work very well. They simply check which browser you are using and display a "not supported" page if it isn't IE. If you tell your browser to pretend to be IE then you can often use the site without problems.

It is, of course, the webmasters choice which browsers are supported, but non-IE users is a group that will only get bigger. Why would you possibly want to ignore them?

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  • please keep us informed :-)
  • I wish the Guardian would generally get a clue with their site. It's like the whole thing got cryonically preserved in 1997.

    I'm sure they have pounds and pounds of snarly HTML templates they're digging their way up out of and it's all very complicated and all; but I have the persistent feeling that in just a weekend I could fix a good half of it, throw out the proprietary code, turn on the RSS, and cut their HTML bandwidth at least in half.

    • Two words - Vignette Storyserver.
      • aaaaaaaa not the Vignette aaaaaaa

        (But even that could be coerced into producing less bloated HTML.)

        • A company the size of Guardian should benefit from producing pages that are compact and optimised, they must have sufficient trafic to make it worth their while. Someone their should read the "Orange Hat" book [].

          However, can it be persuaded to produce valid HTML? I think not []. Vignette are yet another W3C member that couldn't produce decent HTML/xhtml to save their lives. The Guardian's Vignette produced RSS feed for a long while wasn't even valid XML, let alone valid RSS...

          -- "It's not magic, it's work..."
          • Someone there should read the "Orange Hat" book.
            I know that there are people at the Guardian who are intimately acquainted with the contents of the Orange Hat book.
            • But, do they have any influence?

              -- "It's not magic, it's work..."
              • Oh, absolutely they do.

                Obviously I can't speak for the GU project managers, but I suspect it comes down to the old problem of persuading the business to allow them to spend time on changes to the site that have no visible benefit.
                • Making the pages more compact may save them money from bandwidth charges. A small site will see no benefit from this, but the Guardian may be large enough to benefit. Whay pay to transmit data that isn't needed?

                  The current site isn't very usable or accessible. It's also painfully slow, which doesn't help usability or bring back customers. On the accessability front it's probably in breach of the UK Disabillity Discrimination Act, so a legal threat for a organisation that likes to maintain the moral high g

                  -- "It's not magic, it's work..."