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Deliver separate styles for Netscape 4

By MaryWeilage Editor ·
This week's Design and Usability Tactics e-newsletter states that valid CSS styles that render properly in other browsers often produce very different results in Netscape 4. Author Michael Meadhra explains how to deliver separate styles for Netscape 4.

Do you design Web pages with all browsers in mind, including Netscape 4? Do you think you'll incorporate the methods described in this column into your designs?

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Why support NS4?

by Pifalo In reply to Deliver separate styles f ...

I don't understand why some developers make a blanket statement that 'you must support all browser variants'. According to my site's stats, only 1% of all visitors use NS4.

While I certainly see the need to make certain that at the very least your pages 'fail gracefully' in odd browsers (and I definately include NS4 in that category), I feel that the bulk of my efforts should be placed on making well-designed pages for my main audience. The truth is that at the end of the day you only have some much time and resources before you need to move on; applying the 80-20 rule simply leaves NS4 users in the dust.

And with good reason - the browser is pitiful by today's expectations of users. I can't count the number of times senior management has viewed developing Web pages and given us feedback such as 'can this move' or 'can you make the display a little more dynamic'.

I'm more concerned with the Safari browser; it's gone from 3-5% visitors to now just under 30%. It's completely replacing the NS and IE browsers on the Mac. As more people finally part with their money and get Apple systems capable of OSX, more visitors will be using Safari. It's puts us at a disadvantage because we don't always have the money to buy new Macs just for the latest browser - granted we need to get rid of the iMac anyways.

Sorry for my rant. I'll just stick to designing for Mozilla and tweaking for IE and Safari.

Pifalo

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Why support NS4?

by patenai In reply to Why support NS4?

I agree - we don't.

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Re: Why support NS4?

by frank_vollono In reply to Why support NS4?

>I don't understand why some developers make a blanket >statement that 'you must support all browser variants'. >According to my site's stats, only 1% of all visitors >use NS4.

I agree with you 100%. A business must weight the cost vs the benefit when allocating resourcing to making a page compatiable with other browers. My companies statistics are 96% IE 5.5/6 and the other 4% is split among e all the other browers with no clear leader. We've only had 1 vistior with IE4 or less in over a year.

So, with that 4% non-IE users evenly split, how do we spend our valuable time testing and fixing our sites to work correctly in non-IE browers? We don't. It's been decidied it's just not worth it. It is more valuable to use CSS to made the page load quickly and add better features for our user base than to code table-heavy JS hacked pages in order for other users to view our pages.

Now I'll go as far as Making sure the page at least remains usable in Netscape 4 by using @import and the few various hacks, as this doesn't take too much extra time but that' about as far as I'd go for my current employer.

You just have to decide if being backwards complient is going to make you more money or cost you more.

Frank Vollono

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NS4 vs Safari

by SWThomas In reply to Why support NS4?

Pifalo indicates that 30% of his site's visitors use Safari. Wow! That's not our experience. We still have 2.2% on NS4 and under 1% using Safari. So we still need to consider the NS4 users, unfortunately.

=S

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Why not just follow standards?

by robsutherland In reply to Why support NS4?

The w3c w3.org has done a great job of setting standard for Web developers and browser deverlopers to follow. Most popular browsers today (IE 5+, NS6+, Safari, Mozilla) support most of the w3's standards.

If you follow the standards of html or xhtml and css then your pages will be readable and usable by all browsers including NS4 -- most pages that follow standards even degrade well in browsers such as lynx (old text based browser).

If we developers will follow the standards then the browser developers will be more likely to follow suit.

I do know that IE and NS/Mozilla don't follow the standards in the same way and there are *some* workarounds that have to be made, but it is much easier to do the workarounds when following the standards.

As programmers, designers and developers we use "best practice" login all the time. But I have known a lot of Web develops who completely ignore the "best practices" -- standards -- set up by the w3c. Why? Following these standards, or extending them the right way, will only lead to a better Web in the short and long run.

Any thoughts.

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W?C standards

by pvandck In reply to Why not just follow stand ...

"I have known a lot of Web develops who completely ignore the "best practices" -- standards -- set up by the w3c. Why?"

Imo, it's because they don't know the standards or why they exist. Perhaps they think they are "designing"!
Btw, I agree with you. It's much easier to follow the standards.

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Safari ~ Konquerer

by NEGustafson In reply to Why support NS4?

If you have that many users using Safari coming to your site you obviously can't ignore them. But keep this in mind: Safari is based on KHTML, the rendering engine underlying Konquerer, the browser developed for KDE. The two browers of course are not identical, but if you feel you can't justify the cost of new Macs just to ensure Safari compatibility you might consider seeting up a cheap PC with *nix and KDE. I'm guessing the main differences in rendering will be related to fonts, as is the case with gecko-based browsers when going between MS Windows and XFree86.

Of course your other option is just to do everything in Flash (puke) and make sure the majority of your visitors are all using platforms for which the plugin is available.

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NS4?? I just wish a Mozilla 1.x!!

by smchris In reply to Why support NS4?

My wife's a web developer. She says, "I have to. I hate it. I wish it would just die."

Conversely, I can't believe the IE only sites. Shouldn't job 1 be maximization of access to at least all _current_ browsers?

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NN4 & CSS2?

by webmonkeyBUILDER In reply to Deliver separate styles f ...

Will this work for webpages made without tables and using CSS2?

Basically, I'd just like all my table-less content to appear left-justified in NN4 so users can read the content. It doesn't have to be pretty; it just has to be legible, which it is not currently.

Cheers

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Make it legible for NN4

by Meadhra In reply to NN4 & CSS2?

>> Will this work for webpages made without tables and using CSS2? <<

Yes, it will.

You may not be able to create a separate CSS style sheet that duplicates the look of your page in a modern browser, but it's fairly easy to create a style sheet that makes the page legible in NN4.

One way to do it is to make a copy of your main style sheet and edit it to keep all the selectors but strip out all the positioning and fancy formatting attributes. Save the stripped down style sheet and use the technique described in the column to serve it to NN4 while still providing the regular style sheet to other browsers.

You may be able to create an even simpler NN4-only style sheet if your page uses a consistant markup scheme that relies on a few basic tags. In that case, you can create a style sheet for NN4 that makes those tags legible and just omit all the other selectors that create the fancy formatting in your regular page.

Cheers to you
Michael Meadhra

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