[thelist] Jumping In With Both Feet

MRC webmaster at equilon-mrc.com
Tue Dec 11 13:23:49 CST 2001


> My point is that it's not a matter of whether I'm happy, it's whether
> are enough benefits to users. And I really haven't heard any yet.

    I've kept one ear to this discussion, interested in it but always wary
of great philosophical wars like this. If someone has already made this
point, I apologize.
    One obvious improvement in newer browsers, on the whole, is
accessibility. IE 4+ and Mozilla 6 provide support for attributes such as
title and accesskey, and elements such as label, which *can* improve the
usability/accessibility of sites if they are implemented consistently and
    Also, a robust implementation of CSS makes it easier to implement
user-switchable style sheets to, say, improve visibility (e.g., to switch
from a standard style sheet to a high-contrast style sheet at the click of a
button), or for the user to attach a style sheet within the browser that
applies to all web sites.
    One other thought is that newer browsers are generally more capable with
non-Western character sets, providing a clear benefit to those who are most
fluent in, say, Arabic or Chinese. And increasingly, CSS implementations
allow better formatting of non-Western languages.
    Lastly, browsers that implement a higher-order DOM (which includes IE 5+
and Netscape 6, with IE 4 getting an honorable mention) allow far more
robust interactivity at the client end, potentially avoiding costly return
trips to the server to perform some pretty useful functionality. Granted,
many users may be unaware of why a particular site is instantaneously
responsive with a late-model browser, but they may still see the resulting
    You make an excellent point that most of the advances in newer browsers
are far more evident to -- and useful for -- developers rather than users.
Some of them, such as an integrated media bar or colored scrollbars, are
little more than frosting in any case. But there are exceptions, and valid
arguments that newer browsers can offer actual benefits to users, and not
just to code monkeys.

James Aylard

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