[thelist] Tip o'the day (x2)

James Aylard jaylard at encompass.net
Sat Feb 17 10:06:03 CST 2001

First, my apologies: I posted this yesterday, and although it appears in the
archives, I never saw it posted to the list (btw, that's not the first time
that's happened -- anyone know why?)



> when NN6 first came out there was a lot of comments about the layer tag
> working and having to recode. Those seemed to last only a week.

	There could be another explanation for that: most web designers who
would notice that Netscape 6 doesn't display <layer> elements (meaning, who
downloaded, installed, and tested their pages in the thing) probably knew
that it wouldn't long before its final release ("final" being a relative
term, of course). And how many of them even designed pages using the layer
element. Let's face it: that's a fairly compact universe.
	How many home-grown, hot-dog developers out there don't even realize
that their FrontPage designs don't work in Netscape 4.x or on the Mac, much
less in Netscape 6? (Granted, FrontPage designers aren't likely to be using
layers. But the "layers" point was only one facet of this discussion. :) My
guess is that there is an ocean of ignorance out there for whom Netscape 6
is only a whispered notion -- to be found somewhere between the distant
worlds of the Wasp and the W3C.
	Even among established developers (for lack of a better
description), Netscape 6 has not been terribly well received. It has some
horrendous bugs that still make it dangerous and a bit disappointing to code

> The commentary regarding client site recoding is a dog that won't hunt. If
> you haven't already been giving your clients sites that degrade
> someone else will.

	Of course, to "degrade gracefully" usually implies
backward-compatibility, not forward-compatibility. Traditionally, most web
developers have assumed a certain level of legacy support in new browser
releases since they could not presume what future capabilities would be.
Netscape 6 broke from that tradition in a big way, and that is no small
	It is not inconceivable that Netscape 6 could have supported all of
the community standards that it now supports while at the same time
providing some semblance of backward-compatibility for Netscape's legacy
features. After all, for the most part, IE 5 and 5.5 provide
backward-compatibility with IE 4's proprietary DOM.
	I'm not sure that the full burden of Netscape's decision should rest
on the shoulders of web designers. The slow adoption of Netscape 6 may well
be part of the price.

> I think that the wasp campaign will bring folks on to the same page
> standards wise much faster than any other form of education.

	I hope that it works. Ultimately, however, I think -- and many will
hate to hear this -- that the future of standards support lies in
Microsoft's hands. The Wasp can be a constructive irritant, but if IE 6
releases with only slightly improved standards support (not that IE 5.5 is
so terribly bad, IMO), then few but the idealists will push the envelope of
standards-perfection. If, on the other hand, IE 6 provides the same level of
support that Netscape 6 does, but with greater stability and while
maintaining legacy support, the cause will move forward.
	Don't get me wrong: I agree with the goal. I just don't think
achieving it is so straightforward.

James Aylard

<tip type="Netscape 6">
	If you feel tempted to hide form controls by setting their display
property to "none" (or if you include them within other elements for which
the display property is set to "none"), don't. Netscape 6 has a bug that
prevents such controls from submitting successfully
(http://bugzilla.mozilla.org/show_bug.cgi?id=34297). Your form-processing
script will never see them. BTW, the Mozilla engineers hope to solve this by
release 0.9, but it's unclear when, or whether, that will impact Netscape

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