[thelist] browser upgrade campaign gone wrong

Ben Henick persist1 at io.com
Fri Jan 3 10:31:01 CST 2003

On Thu, 2 Jan 2003, Tom Mallon wrote:

> Hi all!,
> Here's my take: I have a bunch of pages that use applets, all of them
> will report that you can't se the page if you lack/ have disabled Java.
> It only states a fact- you can't view the page unless you get what is
> required- it does not make me rude!
> I don't much care for frames, but I have never disabled it on any of
> the five browsers on my 'puter- if I want to view the content of a
> framed page- I need to play by their rules, they are not rude to inform
> you!  It's just "the facts of life".

FWIW - I gave up on frames ages ago.  I've been called upon to use iframes
a couple of times for applications where I know the user is on IE with
JavaScript enabled (rationale below),

As for customizing UA identifiers... evil, evil, evil.  While it does
force sneaky developers to rely upon object detection, there's a lot of
stuff that can get gummed up.

If an Opera 6 user with "Opera" remuved from the UA string, for example,
DOM stuff will go splat in their browser - and I for one go to great
lengths to make sure that doesn't happen.

If you twiddle the UA identifier, or advise your clients to do the same,
bear in mind the full range of consequences.

In regard to Adrian's original comment... since I'm part of the Web
Standards Project, I get to see the messages people send when they've hit
the BUC notice on account of abuse or poor implementation.  I've seen an
average of probably three to five per week.

Jt annoys the hell out of me - and everyone else who fields those
messages.  But it DOES give a thoughtful out to people who are done
playing for the Lowest Common Denominator, and are still willing to make
their content accessible to everybody.

Meanwhile, I have a special dark pit in my heart reserved specifically for
Opera 6.  Why?  Because it acknowledges document.getElementById() but
can't really do anything useful with it.  (Kinda like IE3.01 and the
document object, for those who remember.)  Thus for that browser, object
detection isn't adequate and the only way to distinguish it from IE5 is to
check against navigator.userAgent.  (If someone has a better suggestion,
let me know.)

Opera 7's supposed to be a lot better.

Likewise, while Gecko is for the most part copacetic, one occasionally
runs into differences in the way it handles {x} or {y} that can trash an
entire presentation.

And dare I even raise the subject of IE5/Mac?  Yikes.  (Not bad, just
full of differences from its Windows counterparts that are poorly

If anyone knows of objects that are at the present time peculiar to those
browsers, let the whole world know, please.

Above, I mentioned that there is a use for iframes, when you know that
they'll be available in tandem with JavaScript.

In short, suppose you want to retrieve a dataset (that could potentially
contain several thousand items) for client-side manipulation, without
loading a brand new page into the main browser... the best way I've found
to accomplish this is to do a replace() in an iframe's location object
and take it from there.   The iframe would presumably be set to a
miniscule height or width.

Otherwise, I can't immediately think of a use for frames on the part of a
designer who's at least dipped their toes into server-side stuff.

Ben Henick                     "In the long run, men hit only what they aim
Web Author At-Large             at.  Therefore, though they should fail
http://www.io.com/persist1/     immediately, they had better aim high."
persist1 at io.com                 -- Henry David Thoreau

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