[thelist] backwards compatibility vs standards compliant

AtdtXav atdtxav at yahoo.com
Sat Feb 17 14:12:48 CST 2001

> But this is the case all over the web:
> "this site best viewed in Internet explorer 4.0" for example
> or
> "this site uses flash, please click here to download the
> plug-in"
> If they can't have the latest browser, they can't have the
> full experience of your site is all.  Standards compliant with
> content and style separate will make having a content only 
> version of your site very easy.

We're all pretty hardcore when it comes to trying to do that, I
think.  Most of us on this site are pretty heavy into IA and
usability... however this just isn't possible.  Even if I said
to myself "Ok, work with ONLY IE 5.5 and the latest beta of
Mozilla", I'm still screwed when it comes to the complete
separation of content and style unless I want to use a
complicated content management system.  I suppose I could go
through and separate ALL of my content out into server-side
includes, and then I could make two sets of pages, but I spent
two weeks creating duplicate pages for the flash and print
version of lear.com, and I am NOT about to do that to my own
sites. UGH!

> And I think that's what we'll have to do, but it's not as hard
> to build two copies of your site as it is to fudge it to work
> in a range of old and new browsers.

Ok, It's not difficult to create two copies of a site.  It's not
even the actual time lost in modifying two pages for every
one... it's more the idea behind it that makes me want to hide
under my desk until the Bad Ideas Go Away.

> And this is a case where we need more standards - why should
> *users* with a disadvantage be restricted by the poor quality
> of the tools they're forced to use.  IMHO the legislation is 
> pointing in the wrong direction.  A more humane judgement on
> would have been an order to develop efficient software for the
> users you describe *for free*

Hm, this is an intriguing idea, i think.  What I think you're
not getting is that the lot of us adults are no better than
children.  People are angry, darn it, and Someone Must Pay! 
Microsoft must be punished.  Doing something that would make
them look very, very good is the antithesis of this, even if
it's much more likely to accomplish our goals in general, in the
long run.  

Me?  I don't like MS.  They make crappy programs that
continually frustrate me with stability issues and a SEVERE lack
of user control.  They hide things from me (I'm strictly talking
software now), and nothing makes me feel more suspicious.  
Regardless, if we all kept the goals we have in mind (ease of
use for all people, including coders), we wouldn't have to go
around punishing.
(that's a very longwinded way of saying I like your idea)

> But, in any case, your simple, standard, content only site
> will fit the bill meantime.

> I don't believe in exclusion, I believe in simplifying the
> number of
> options.
> by simplifying to a standard compliant site and a simple
> content only site we have only two jobs to do.

By creating a site that fudges for all browsers, we're still
creating only one site, it's just a hell of a lot more

> In all honesty I'd like to see content only versions of all
> sites (and yes I know some sites are devoid of content and are
> all entertainment, but that's another story, a bit like 
> listening to a spoken word cassette in the car and watching
> DVD of the film of the book.  Both meaningful experiences at 
> different ends of the spectrum.

What about more complicated sites?  I created an independent
film site, and true, there is a -lot- of detail about the films,
the cast and crew, resumes and such, but some of this content
includes images, audio files, and hopefully streaming video. 
It's an entertainment company, but this isn't an
advertising-driven site merely meant to entertain the usual
end-user, it's a display of their talents, and as such is much
more Content than "flash".  How does one handle such a thing in
the current state of the webworld?  Is this always a simple
black or white?

> But wouldn't it be better to educate them that switching to
> standards would be more cost effective in the long term?

This doesn't happen.  This assumes that the standard client is
more interested in knowledge than confrontation.  Clients say
"Why does this not work?  Can you make it work?"   You're
already in hot water, and few clients (I find) will accept the
answer of "the browser's broken.  My code is right.  You should
stick to my code, because it's the right way to do it."

I had a horrendous experience trying to convince a client that
it was much easier for him and his staff to add new "random
taglines" to his page through javascript than through creating a
new image for each tagline.  His peeps are -not-
photoshop-savvy.  In the end, the less elegant solution

> I'm happy with this, but we all make a decision about where
> the degrade will stop being graceful.   All I'm suggesting is
> that we move the threshold forward to speed up the process.

I admit it, I'm trying.  However, I find it's not a simple
decision that can be stuck with like a moral code.

Scott Kennedy

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