[thelist] Site redirect check : old browser

aardvark roselli at earthlink.net
Tue Jun 5 23:30:26 CDT 2001

> From: "Mark Cheng" <mark.cheng at ranger.com.au>
> I didn't say it wasn't.  What I said was that I was looking for the
> benefits of separating style from content.  As I have no backend
> skills whatsoever I didn't need the complication of a backend template

i wouldn't refer to it as complication, nor is a data source being 
separate from the content genuinely analogous to a page with CSS-
P handling layout...

> and sourcing the content from a DB.  However, I achieved much the same
> effect with CSSP.  Why not a table?  Because with CSSP I can move the
> design of all the pages just by changing the stylesheet. I don't need
> to change my HTML at all.  That seemed like a great idea to me.

yes, you are correct, you can modify the appearance using your 
linked CSS file... but your content is still married to the mark-up... 
this would make it difficult to push your content to alternate 
platforms (via WAP, for example)...

i think the confusion here is that you are using the wrong 
terminology, and possibly believing that you've got something else...

what you have achieved with the CSS-P and <div> is *not* a 
separation of style and content, it is a separation of style and 
*mark-up*... your content is still inextricably woven into the 
markup, meaning your content is not separated from anything at 
this point...

> > in fact, if it was truly
> >separate, you should be able to slap a new template on that page and
> >show us...
> Actually, you can slap a new "template" on it - just insert a color
> change (or a positioning change, or a font change) into a user
> stylesheet for #content and mark it !important.

ok, push it to WAP... or slap an HTML2 template on it... or output 
your content as an RSS feed... all without touching a line of 
markup in your HTML pages...

*that's* why your content is not separate from your mark-up... but 
your mark-up is separate from your style... which is really irrelevent 
as far as separation of content goes...

and let's not forget that <div>s in and of themselves imply no 
structure (like a <p> implies a paragraph, for instance)... by using 
<div>s, you are, in fact, embedding style into the content, because 
you are inserting something other than structure and semantic 
value...  now if this were XML, i'd take a different tack on that...

> I'm looking forward (as in I'm eagerly awaiting - not "you are
> backward looking")  to the day when we have a naming convention so
> that all content is in a div id="content" or somesuch.  Then in my
> user stylesheet I can set the preferences I want for the content (like
> moving it into the center of the screen and blocking out ad banners :)
> ).

heh, that would be nice, but never happen... trying to standardize 
how people name classes is unlikely... but it would be nice... as it 
is, you can at least define all the HTML tags that exist through a 
personal CSS doc and handle those... you think ad-driven sites will 
create a 'spam' class?

> Actually the Divs in the content are for emphasis, floating pictures
> etc. Should we have those?  We could have had images inline, but these
> need to be wide and high and would be a PITA if you were trying to
> read the text.   I don't see a difference between <divs> in content
> and <a> or <strong> - you are going to get that in content in most
> pages.

again, <a> is structure (a hyperlink, and can often be used with 
<cite>, which has semantic meaning) and <strong> is also 
structure (as opposed to <b>, which is just style)... both of those 
serve a purpose... aural browsers use them, WAP-ready browsers 
can use them, they have definite implications with their use... 
<div>s exist *only* to delineate content for styling, thereby 
imparting no structure, no semantic meaning, and instead weaving 
style throughout the document under the guise of separation...

if down the road you need to modify your classes, perhaps rename 
them, you still have to go into each content page and change your 
class names... maybe you'll have to add a new one, which means 
you still have to go into every page...

> Absolutely - its the easy way out.  From my point of view, I had a
> couple of months to get up to speed on HTML, CSS, Javascript, DOM so
> that I could put this site together.  One of the first things was to
> select the browsers to support - That was simple - anything with
> getElementById.  Why? - because it made the javascript easier.

without listing them, do you have an absolute list of what those 
browsers are?  does the client (or is it your boss?)?  i don't 
consider that too simple (seen browsers.evolt.org?)... in fact, most 
of my sites eschew any kind of client-side script, beyond 
rollovers... relying on the client like that can be problematic...

>  I'm not trying to get the *exact* same layout.  I don't even have the
>  box
> model hack on most Divs in the CSS.  If you mean that I've ensured
> that I can't get the same layout because I've used CSS-P - True.  I've
> explained the reason for that above.  There is nothing complicated
> about that layout - you could do it in a table easily.  But - the
> flexibility offered by CSS-P to change it is a key thing that we
> wanted to keep.

i guess i can see your point for the short-term... yes, it seems to 
address what you need now, but i think you are possibly doing 
yourself a disservice by ignoring not only some of the users, but 
also by believing that you've actually achieved that separation of 
style from content...

> I don't consider using the full potential of the standards available a
> "failure" because I *can't* get the same layout in a browser that
> predates the writing of the standards.  That's like saying no-one
> should produce wide screen videos (haven't got a DVD :( ) because
> millions of TV's don't support widescreen and get an ugly black band. 
> Whilst it costs money to upgrade a TV, it costs nothing to upgrade a
> browser.

not quite a good analogy... when color tv came out it was built to 
be backward-compatible with black and white tvs... believe it or not, 
that was the first major upgrade campaign we've ever seen...

and is using the 'full potential' of the standards worth it when only 
the latest versions of three browsers are capable of rendering it 
even remotely correctly?

> Basically, that is a user choice - I'm not shrouding my "failure" -
> I'm pointing out to users who don't know/realise a simple fact.

and you think they'll listen to you?  or care?

> >how is that caring?  you've told them to bugger off... if you cared,
> >you'd let *them* decide, not dictate to them...
> I didn't tell them to bugger off - I point out a fact, give them
> options to upgrade for free, give them an option to go in anyway and
> give them an alternative.  They can decide.  The only thing I have
> taken away from the user is the opportunity to hit this site with no
> warning about what may happen.

this is where i truly take issue with your points... you incorrectly 
assume that all users can upgrade, and all users have no reason 
not to...

let's disregard users who:
- cannot upgrade due to corporate policy...
- do not have a powerful enough system to upgrade...
- can't get their kids over to do it...
- surf at the library...
- don't want to stay online for 3 hours to get a browser...
- don't want to futz with their system, now that it's stable...
- don't understand the message you're sending them...

in addition, the 'fact' you point out is that their browser is not W3C 
compliant... guess what, neither is the new one they'll download... 
that's a fact... but you don't mention that... your fact is a 
conveniently placed massaged bit of information to bolster your 
argument, but in reality, its implication is not true, so i wouldn't 
qualify it as fact...

so, you have actually taken away important information about the 
browsers out there (by presenting some, but leaving other 
information absent), and you've told them to upgrade, like it or 
not... you purport to educate the user, but give inaccurate and 
inadequate information...

> Actually this discussion has made me realise that the issue with this
> site is not the positioning - its the javascript.  I wrote the
> javascript using DOM and getElementByID.  The nav menu, expanding divs
> and rollovers rely on DOM support.  So - as long as I put in
> appropriate capability checking - and a warning that some things won't
> work - I don't need a redirect.  I think that I'll still keep it, but
> a wording change may be appropriate.

agreed... capability checking would help a lot, as well as a clean-
up of wording... i think the site can still work when linearized, 
although that's where you may want to explain why it doesn't look 
like eCompanyFoo.com...

> >table could have sufficed... (btw, i'm not altogether sure it's
> >rendering in IE5 as you intended, the pictures are stacked in the
> >upper left corner, and in content pages the headers are clipped)
> You make it sound like so much work.  The conditional code is three
> lines. The text only page is going to have 1 list, it's not a replica
> of the site. Testing was confined to ie55, ns6, op5 win. (I don't have
> a mac, but I am led to believe that there is a prob with the css -
> I'll look into that.)

the problem cited on the mac is the same one i saw on IE5 (i don't 
have IE5.5), which, by the way, is still in the 5.x chain... are you 
not supporting IE5?  hmmm... if not, your assumed saturation is 
going to go *way* down...

either way, no, it may not be much work to you now, as i 
mentioned above... but in the future, be aware that you haven't 
separated your content from your markup, *just* your CSS...

> As I said above, yes a simple table would have sufficed, but we wanted
> the flexibility.

of...? are y'all gonna change the layout and colors on a daily 
basis?  just *what* flexibility are you going to be using on a highly 
regular basis?  yeah, you can change the positioning and color via 
the CSS file, but are you going to?  and if so, how often?  will it 
have been worth it?  (considering you probably could have done a 
tabled layout in the time spent discussing this with me)

> >btw, let's not forget that not everyone can upgrade their browsers...
> Disagree - if you are referring to businesses, in today's e-world
> businesses are more likely to upgrade faster than the general public.
> They need to to maintain their information distribution systems.  (I
> used to work for PricewaterhouseCoopers - their spending on knowledge
> management was vast.)

heh, PwC... the Lotus Notes shop (they call *that* knowledge 
management)?  at least i know a european office (and no, not the 
one the scot on the list works for) that is still running IE4 over all 
their desktops...  you don't work for PwC now, don't make 
assertions for them and use them as an example...  hell, you know 
ernst-n-young?  there are some interesting browser stories in there, 
especially after their failed attempt to hire 1,000 e-commerce 
developers last year... can you believe there are companies that 
only allow NN3.04?  it seems they didn't know the browsers were 
free, and now that they know, the UI and support hassle scares 

> Everyone else can, just choose not to.

yep, that's the part that bugs me... not only is it categorically false, 
it is also highly arrogant...

guess what, slugger, i can't run IE5.5 on this machine without 
major memory issues... and try getting the library in Austin or 
Buffalo to upgrade their browsers -- not gonna happen... i have no 
control over that... oh, and i know of a few multi-million dollar 
companies that won't let their staff upgrade, especially when it 
comes to IE, since their intranet applications rely on it and a new 
version could create help desk nightmares... and my parents 
certainly have no clue how to upgrade... and my aunt with her 
WebTV, how can she get IE5.5? and those kids at the public 
school?  the guy in the coffee shop with that old laptop he had me 
look at?  the center for blind, at which half their users use screen 
enlargers on IE4?

yeah, i suppose we've all chosen not to sneak into the library and 
upgrade their systems, or not to bypass corporate policy, or not to 
spend $800 dollars to get a system to run the latest browsers... 
but we *can*...

seriously, don't trot that argument out again, it won't fly here...

otherwise, keep the feedbakc coming... it's interesting to hear your 

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