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W3C On How To Fix Browsers 343

Posted by Hemos
from the makin'-things-better dept.
kellan1 writes: "The W3C has published a note Common User Agent Problems, aka why do web browsers suck, and what can you do about it?"
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W3C On How to Fix Browsers

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  • Yeah this sucks. Most people (including me ;-) no longer use HTTP authentication for security critical applications for this (and a other) reason -- much better to write your own auth (or use a library) as part of your session management. That way you can simulate a stateful connection reasonably well.

    Oh, another thing that pisses me off about IE on the Mac (probably most other browsers as well, but I'm running into this now on Mac IE5.0) -- why the hell can't I use the standard editing conventions for my platform in a TEXTAREA? There's no way to move a word or paragraph at a time (like option or command arrow...)

    Oh well....
  • This would be a biting and insightful comment if Internet Explorer didn't have the most comprehensive support for W3C standards of any browser in existence.

    What do you think point 3.2 [w3.org] is referring to? As far as I know, IE is the only browser that departs from the HTTP standard by ignoring text/plain as a content type. I don't consider a browser that thinks "Sure, the server says it's text/plain, but I know better" to have "comprehensive support for W3C standards".

  • by plaa (29967) <sampo.niskanenNO@SPAMiki.fi> on Thursday February 08, 2001 @12:47PM (#445744) Homepage
    Keep the TEXTAREA, add a new one <FORMATTEXT> , or something similar.

    Just a quick correction: Use TEXTAREA, but add an option to it, eg. <TEXTAREA FORMAT=HTML>. That way old browsers still support it, only the formatting is missing. Also the format would be extensible.
  • Konqueror is great. The only place where I have trouble with it is a nytimes.com for some reason it puts the text of the article in the wrong place.

    One thing that I really like about Konqueror is that you can set the browser ID tags. Most of the time I leave them set to "None of your fucking business (Mozilla 5.0 compatable)" but if a site that I actually want to see gives me trouble I can switch over to being IE 5.5 pretty easily.
    _____________

  • by rho (6063)

    Actually, XEmacs has an API by which X apps can embed XEmacs as a text editor. That would be fine with me, I'm a Emacs whore...

    However, I do NOT want to run an Emacs key-binding tutorial with each client of mine. "No, see, to make the text bold, you have to have the hm--html elisp package, load it in your .emacs file, and the key binding is [ctrl-x, ctrl-w, b]" I don't have that kind of patience...

    I'm talking simple, simple stuff. Bold, italic, headlines. Keep the TEXTAREA, add a new one <FORMATTEXT> , or something similar. You get a textarea-like window, but when you type it shows the text in the font that the stylesheet gives it, you can bold or italicize text, etc.

    Actually, something a lot like AOLpress would be nice...

  • And just so I can say it: fear my low slashdot uid!

    So how much did that cost you on eBay?

  • I disagree. Maybe we need a new HTML rendering widget similar to <TEXTAREA> but it's just wrong to say that the widget is broken.

    I need the <TEXTAREA> for many things, such as posting application forms, stuff that sends e-mails---most of the stuff is not in HTML. If you restricted it to HTML rendering then you've removed the flexibility of the widget.

    • when there is a web browser that is isn't brainsick...

    It's not the fault of the browsers that they were implemented to specification. If they did in fact implement HTML rendering in the TEXTAREA widget or even if they added a HTMLAREA widget in a certain brwoser it would only cause webmasters more grief since it would be another thing which "Works in IE, doesn't in Netscape" or vice versa. If anything, blame the W3C for not coming up something that people need.

  • by Chris Pimlott (16212) on Thursday February 08, 2001 @11:45AM (#445757)
    "This user violated our Acceptable Use Policy and has had their account terminated. The page you are looking for is gone for good."

    In that case, the proper status code would probably be 410 Gone [w3.org]
  • by deft (253558) on Thursday February 08, 2001 @10:33AM (#445760) Homepage
    im a web designer currently living up in san jose. on my way to work at our clients site, i pass netscape's headquearters every day.

    we take great joy in yelling a different fix for their broswer every day out our window;
    "how about rendering tables correctly?!"
    "how about filed widths being consistent?!"

    id be happy to yell any fixes anyone would like to see implemented.
    oh the headaches of netscape. keeps me with a job though.
  • by CaseyB (1105)
    You're right, I was assuming he was talking about getting bit while authoring pages.

    But now I'm confused. IE is better than most browsers as displaying broken HTML -- why is he mad at MS?

  • I love comments like these:

    "Browsers started going to hell in a handbasket when they forgot why HTML was around in the first place - to make a platform-independent system for sharing information. Thus, a web page in Netscape *should* look different than a web page in IE, *however* the content should be the same. "

    Coming from somebody who's complaining about the fact that webpages don't look the same on all browsers, because they don't adhere to the standards.

    News flash. Content is not the most important part of a website. There goes the karma. But hear me out. Content is one of two things that are equally important, and if either are lax your website is useless. The other is user experience. You may have the most content-rich site in the world, but it doesn't matter if it looks like shit. And you can have the nicest looking site in the world, and it won't matter if it's got a fucked up interface or you have no content. Just look at some of the more abstract graphic artists' homepages out there.... They look great, but when you can't tell where to click or what clicking there's gonna do, you head straight for that little x in the corner.

    When will you people learn, that the look and feel of a site Is just as important as it's content?

    Frankly, I love explorer, and they do a lot more complying (is that a word?) to standards than netscape, and a whole truckload more than they have to.... W3C can jump up and down, but as it stands, IE is the standard, and it ain't gonna change for a while, because users are happy and that's what counts the most.

    </rant>


    --Gfunk
  • .. is the fucking advertising shit they put on them like the "Shopping bar" and all that 'I'm an AOL user-I don't know how to go to ebay myself' crap. If all the browser makers would just strip down the interface to the essential stuff for going to web pages, they could focus more on fixing the damn inconsistencies with the spec's.
  • Well, you must have been asleep when this was covered in class, as you appear to be confused about what a 404 page is. Browsers are perfectly capable of differentiating between a 'page' (ie, a 200 or 304 code) and an 'error' (a 404, 403, 500 or any other error). A 404 is not a web page, it's an error with a (hopefully) descriptive message which is usually displayed as a web page. The browser sees that it's a 404 way before it gets the rest of the page (byte-wise speaking) as that information is the first thing the web server transmits.
  • I've heard that you could do that, but I've never tried it. Unfortunately, that takes the cooperation of the designer of the site, and it's not something that the user can do on his own.

    Thanks for the tip, though.

    All your dangifiknow [dangifiknow.com] are belong to us.

  • by jandrese (485)
    Er, I don't think Netscape 1.0 supported bgcolor (and I'm fuzzy on tables, but I don't remember it supporting tables). I remember for a while NCSA Mosaic was actually marginally better than Netscape 1.0 because it supported background colors (wooo!). Then Netscape 1.1 came around and blew it away. I can still remember the days when people tried to avoid using the table tag because of all of the problems it caused (not working in many browsers, slow to render on Netscape, forcing Netscape to load the entire table before it even tried to render, etc...)

    Down that path lies madness. On the other hand, the road to hell is paved with melting snowballs.
  • I'm running KDE 2.1b2 and it will resume, though I haven't tried it.

    I highly recommend turning on the option for having one file operation window. It will even tell you your total download rate if you're downloading multiple files.

    Another neat GetRight-ish feature (but better) is the little menu that comes up when you select a URL that isn't a link. Klipper, the ultra-neat clipboard tool asks if you want to open it in Konqueror, or (depending on availability) Nestcape or Mozilla, or it will let you pop up a window to edit your selection and then allow you to choose again. You can add more applications and regexes for processing. By default, mailto: links can be handled by kmail or mutt.

    There are some features that are lacking, however. I can't click on a partial file (Konqueror adds a .part extension) and resume it. I have to go to the site again and click on the link. I also can't give it a bunch of mirrors and have it calculate which is the fastest one whilst downloading. That was my favourite GetRight feature.
  • Why can't Microsoft make DAV:// work for a "web folder"? It's a protocol, with a different URI... clicking on a link of that format should open a web folder.

    --Mike--

  • by CaseyB (1105)
    Compare:
    ...the most comprehensive support for W3C standards...
    vs.
    ...better support for the basic W3C standards (HTML, CSS, DOM)

    I'm impressed that Mozilla has come so far in it's ability to render HTML, but that's only a small subset of the W3C stuff.

  • by Sanity (1431) on Thursday February 08, 2001 @11:51AM (#445782) Homepage Journal
    The problem is that HTML was originally intended to be a relatively abstracted specification of the content, but this wasn't what people wanted. TABLE tags weren't forced on people by browser makers, but were embraced enthusiastically by web site creators. Basically the mistake was thinking that content creators wouldn't want to control how that content was presented to the user. Of course standardization is a good thing, but people need to admit that the intention of HTML has changed from a way to specify text abstractly (like DOCBOOK), to a way to specify a layout for a page in a flexible and robust manner.

    --

  • That rant has no open tag.

    ;)

  • by CaseyB (1105)
    If you knew this was going to happen, then why did you start the dreaded chain of events by saying...

    Er, that was me, not Alan.

    And I do regret it -- if I could edit the original, I'd change "most comprehensive of any browser" to "...very comprehensive support...".

  • For example, a document might be available in several languages under the same URI, and the user might want to point somebody to the Canadian version of this document, which has a different URI.

    Since when is Canadian a language?

    --

  • Netscape stagnated however, not really coming up with anything new. Internet Explorer won out and the W3C had to conform to it. And this is not necessarily a bad thing. Think about how far behind web technologies would be if NS was the dominant browser? Sure, NS and IE can do a lot of the same things - problem is, IE does them more cleanly whereas equivalent NS implimentations are essentially big ugly hacks. And well, of course, there's a plethora of useful features that are in IE that you could never do with NS. And when is the last time NS introduced anything new?

    s/stagnated/suffocated/. The reason NS was stuck at version 4.x for so many years is because MS "cut off their air supply". They couldn't afford to develop a new version because there was no longer any way to recoup the development costs.

    That is why we have the situation we have today. A lot of people liked (and still like) Netscape but were stuck with the 4.x browser because of MS's illegal business practices. So a lot of web developers had to develop for a bitrotten browser instead of making use of new standards like CSS (yes, NS4 had some sucky CSS support (so did IE 4)). Finally, everyone said "fuck it" and developed for IE 5.

    If the browser war hadn't been "won", I'm sure we would have seen a lot more innovation from both NS and MS over the past few years. NS and MS would still be creating their cute little tags to one-up each other, and W3C, following their leads, would design an elegant solution to do the same things (and then some) The Right Way. I suspect we would've seen much more interesting developments from that competition than the relatively trivial things we have seen without it.

    Since the end of the browser war, what sort of developments have we seen? IMHO, the most significant developments in the web browser have been: HTML (duh :), client-side scripting (Javascript), integrated VM (Java applets), and style sheets (W3C CSS). How many of those happened after the browser war ended? Have we seen anything of comparable signifigance since? I mean, "hover"? Give me a break! CSS came about just as the browser war was ending, and that is where the real innovation stopped. I don't think that is a coincidence.

    When MS won the browser war, it wasn't just NS who lost. We all did.

  • Mozilla implemented then broke or removed

    IE supports the hover: property for links. Mozilla is attempting to support it for everything. That's just a teensy weensy bit harder. We'll get there, though.

    In addition, a Mozilla developer says "From reading the CSS WG mailing list, it looks like the exact definition of hierarchical hover is still being hammered out. I'm not sure we should put an implementation of it into our code until we are sure that we know how exactly this feature should work."

    It's Bug 5693 [mozilla.org].

    Gerv
  • This is part of the reason that web browsers suck: because people demand that they render broken content "nicely".

    Missing </td> and </tr> tags aren't broken, yet Netscape can't render the page. According to the specs, end tags aren't needed on table elements or list elements; it can easily be deduced that if you have a <tr> tag, the previous table row and any of its open columns have ended. If Netscape simply followed the specs I think we'd all be happier.

    But the bigger problem is broken HTML. While it may be the author's problem, your browser should render it as best it can. One reason is simply that today's HTML may be considered broken in a few years, and vice versa. At any rate, it's the right thing to do. If IE was the browser that didn't render broken HTML, we'd see all kinds of comments about how stupid that is.

    Michael

  • by swb (14022) on Thursday February 08, 2001 @12:02PM (#445807)
    Would be immensely more useful, in spite of the abyssmal formatting, if it was larger than 50 characters by 10 lines. I don't know if this puny size is a conspiracy to keep comments short and pointless or some vague attempt to keep it "useful" for Lynx or 640x480 display resolutions. Either way, it just seems kind of ridiculous.
  • by roca (43122) on Thursday February 08, 2001 @12:05PM (#445812) Homepage
    I guess it's biting and insightful then, because Netscape6/Mozilla have better support for the basic W3C standards (HTML, CSS, DOM) than WinIE. Check out www.richinstyle.com or some other independent site if you don't believe it.
  • And yet this is why W3C has a validation [w3.org] service that web page authors can use to check their own pages to make sure that they adhere to HTML 3.2 or 4.01 or whatever.

    Some people write pages that stick to the HTML standards, though for the most part they are simpler in design because that's the easiest way to stick to the standard. But quite frankly, it's also usually (not always) less interesting.

    The browsers will still render the same page differently because that's what the standard allowed them to do - it didn't dictate the exact appearance and left it to the browser implementors.

    Besides, they create the Amaya browser, which is supposed to render correctly, and you will see it looks pretty different from everyone else's browser. Maybe we should all just use Amaya?

  • Well, I don't know if it actually works or not, since I'm not sure how to test it ... but Mozilla has a "Log Out" option, under "Tasks, Privacy and Security, Password Manager".
  • by roca (43122) on Thursday February 08, 2001 @12:16PM (#445831) Homepage
    You're wrong for a number of reasons.

    There is no definition of how tags are supposed to be rendered. That is explicitly left open by the HTML standard, and for good reason. CSS specifies more of that, but it's still not complete, and again, there are good reasons not to fully specify the rendering.

    It is simply not true that the rest of the work is "a piece of cake", not when you're dealing with something as complex as the W3C standard definitions and all their interactions. If you don't believe it, try writing a browser yourself.

    But the biggest problem is that despite the fact that HTML 3.2 and 4.0 are specified, it doesn't matter because Web page authors DO NOT stick to the standards. They write buggy pages which more or less render OK in the browser they happen to be using, and then they're done. There are almost no pages which adhere strictly to the W3C definitions, and that's why results vary from one browser to the next.
  • Actually, I think this should be a user settable parameter, possibly on a domain by domain basis.

    When I'm browsing content on my own web site, I want malformed content to stink up the place, so I can call the person responsible and have them fix it.

    When I'm looking up emergency directions for performing CPR, I want the content even if the designer screwed up.

  • when there is a web browser that is isn't brainsick

    The browser you want has been out since 1996. I am using it right now. There's just one little catch, though: you need an Amiga.

    Whenever AWeb [amitrix.com] does a textarea widget, it has a little button in the lower right corner. If I click it, then the text is immediately loaded into the greatest and easiest-to-use text editor in the world. Whenever I tell the editor to write, the textarea gadget is immediately updated.

    What is the greatest text editor in the world? It's whatever you want it to be, set in the browser's preferences.


    ---
  • by Riomaggio (313955) on Thursday February 08, 2001 @10:40AM (#445840)
    When the user agent clicks on a broken link, return the user to their current page and inform them of the error. How many times have I clicked the BACK button because nobody has put this in? How hard can it be?
  • However, this is not how web browsers interpret the data, this is how the W3C thinks web browsers _should_ interpret the data.
  • by Glowing Fish (155236) on Thursday February 08, 2001 @10:41AM (#445844) Homepage

    The W3C does have a tool you can use to see if web pages are compliant with their html specifications. Which, of course, almost no one's are.

    As far as I am concerned, if this guy's [helsinki.fi] web page is not html compliant, I am not going to worry if mine isn't.

  • Content-Type: application/postscript; qs=0.001
    Content-Encoding: gzip

    If saved locally, the filename on most computers should be html40.ps.gz for the applications to recognize the file type.

    Wrong: Saving this compressed PostScript document as html40.ps is likely to confuse other applications.


    Surely the correct thing to do is to save the _uncompressed_ file as html40.ps? Aren't most html files sent over the web sent with gzip content-encoding?
  • I love the slashdot community. _That's_ why I read slashdot. However, in general, there is a lack of editing on the part of the people posting articles. If I were here just for the articles, I would have left a long time ago. When misleading comments appear about the articles, it often makes the discussion meaningless, because there's a lot of people talking about stuff that isn't true. I love the people of slashdot, and I get upset when the editors take their responsibilities so lightly.
  • Instead of using alt+F to find in document (I'm on Soalris here) you can use the following .Xdefaults:

    Netscape*toolBar.numUserCommands: 1
    Netscape*toolBar.userCommand1.commandName: findInObject
    Netscape*toolBar.userCommand1.labelString: Find
    Netscape*toolBar.userCommand1.commandIcon: Find

    I find it useful, at least...

  • There are even bug lists with examples for each and every bug like this one [richinstyle.com]. Other software developers can only dream of such detailed bug reports. The browser developers just don't regard them (or don't have time or have other priorities, whatever).
  • by Alien54 (180860) on Thursday February 08, 2001 @10:41AM (#445851) Journal
    This is not a Microsoft document.

    the behaviors described are not protocols officially accepted by MS. (just look at the behavior of the browsers)

    Given the dominance of MS in the market, is this document even relevant? [even though it is brilliant, insightful, and written by people who care about what is going on]

    I am just glad we haven't progressed to the point where Microsoft "red" is a shade between black and blue.

  • HTTP/1.1 [RFC2616] allows transfer encoding. An example of encoding is data compression, which speeds up Web browsing over a slow connection.

    The user agent should allow the user to set the transfer encoding in the HTTP requests sent out.


    I don't understand why this pref is necessary. Browser makers generally have a much better idea of what the best transfer-encoding types are than users, and most users wouldn't have any reason to change this setting.

  • It really is Microsoft's fault.

    Why? Because prior to the explosion of browsers and the web there was no good, ubiquitous technology that allowed platform independent distributed computing. There were plenty of technologies at the time, but you wouldn't find any of them on Windows machines. Rembember Bill's pre-Netscape attitude about the Internet? "Oh, it's just for hobbyists, the REAL *information superhighway* is going to be MSN!" Hence Windows had none of the built-in network-ready functionality that would help form a base for *real* distributed computing in a way that would actually work.

    Once browsers became widely available for Windows (i.e. Netscape) the web began its explosion because it enabled what everyone really wanted in the first place, but Windows wouldn't give it to them, platform-independent networking. Unfortunately, since the browser represented the only real choice to accomplish this, it started being used for EVERYTHING. Not just hypertext document traversal and simple form submission for which the web was designed, but full-blown remote applications for everything you could imagine. Hence the browser wars reached a feaver pitch because now everything under the sun had to be supported, but it was on top of a model (batch-style client fetch) that just wouldn't support it.

    And we're still paying the price today. My own job is in the development of a complicated user interface used to configure a complex system. Pretty much hell to do in a browser, but we break more than half of the W3C's rules because we need it to act like a real UI, and the decision to go browser-based stems ultimately from the fact that there really aren't many better alternatives (well, Java maybe, but it has it's own problems, --I won't get started on how Microsoft screwed that up, too). And now, God forbid, we're faced with more Microsoft "vision" in .NET.

    If Microsoft had the slightest CLUE about networking, the world would be a different place today. Hell, we probably wouldn't even be facing a possible recession, and the dot-com implosion most likely would have been much less severe if everyone had real tools and applications that interacted on the Internet in a sensible way.

    Sorry if this is just more /. sour-grape Microsoft bashing, but if anyone can't point out why I'm wrong, I'd love to hear it.

  • by Sethb (9355) <bokelman@gmail.com> on Thursday February 08, 2001 @12:22PM (#445854) Homepage
    I know, I wish Slashdot had the same type of WYSIWYG editor that my weblog [editthispage.com] does. It uses Manila [userland.com], from Userland [userland.com], to allow WYSIWYG in IE 5+ for Windows, at least. I know that isn't the Slashdot audience, but I'm betting 30% of the hits here come on IE...
    ---
  • by Frank T. Lofaro Jr. (142215) on Thursday February 08, 2001 @08:55PM (#445855) Homepage
    1. Have the web browser render correct pages correctly, as the #1 priority.

    2. Have the web browser try to compensate as well as possible for mistakes, as long as doing so doesn't interfere with #1, above.

    I.e. follow the Internet maxim, "be conservative in what you do, and liberal in what you accept"

    3. Issue a web page quality feedback to the user so if a site has bad HTML, the user knows, so she can fix the site if it is hers, let the web master know if someone else is responsible for the site, know that a company can't do web pages right (great if you are browsing a web page design company's site! ;) or at least know that the reason the page looks bad is because of the web page being poorly done, and not a browser issue.

    A good implementation would be, for example, an icon which shows quality, and when clicked shows any errors in the page. E.g. if the page is good there would be a smiley face and a tool tip would say "No errors - high quality page", and if the page was bad there would be a frown face and when you clicked it you'd get a window opening with a list of the errors in it. A really good implemenation would have a whole site of icons for perfect, good, ok, bad, and horrid HTML. Of course, the lower the quality, the more likely there are to be problems rendering the page...
  • by Enry (630) <enryNO@SPAMwayga.net> on Thursday February 08, 2001 @10:42AM (#445856) Journal
    Browsers started going to hell in a handbasket when they forgot why HTML was around in the first place - to make a platform-independent system for sharing information. Thus, a web page in Netscape *should* look different than a web page in IE, *however* the content should be the same.

    The DTD merely says that this text is in a paragraph. Unfortunately, most browsers have embraced and extended this to assume that all browsers have the exact same layout. Thus, changing font sizes or types in your browser makes the page look just plain wrong.

    Back when the DTD was being followed, *everyone* built web browsers, and all was good with the world. The content was similar, and no matter what the platform, you could still browse. Then came . And . And and all hell broke loose.

    Now we're in an IE world. One browser for everyone. Netscape is flailing, Mozilla is close, but MS has free run of the DTD.

    If you really want browser wars to heat up, you have to make usre that the browser followed the DTD properly so the display is not driven by the content, but is driven by the end user, as it should be.
  • by Mr. Slippery (47854) <tms.infamous@net> on Thursday February 08, 2001 @12:22PM (#445858) Homepage
    ...then there is no reason that the page should not display identically on each persons browser. I find it unfathomable that this is not the case.

    There are many reasons why two correctly-functioning browsers will display the same page differently. The <p> tag, for example, without style information, just means "paragraph" - there's no reason different browsers might not have (compiled-in or user configured) different default fonts, default spacing between paragraphs, default paragraph indentation, etcetera. Even with style information, the user can override the author's preferences.

    Web pages are not Postscript or PDF documents. HTML authors who try to make pages that look exactly the same in all browsers Just Don't Get It.

    Tom Swiss | the infamous tms | http://www.infamous.net/

  • by rho (6063) on Thursday February 08, 2001 @10:43AM (#445859) Homepage Journal

    Here I am, typing into a <TEXTAREA> , a widget so abhominably broken, it only understands the barest rudiments of text editing (hit key, print letter), and they're worried about broken or missing <A> tags.

    Come on, people... one of the most common uses of the web these days is to post messages on a weblog-type site (like, oh, Slashdot) -- and there isn't a widget that we can use other than the <TEXTAREA> so normal people can type text in, highlight a few words, and hit a BOLD button? They have to learn to use <B> tags? What is this, 1983?

    I'll tell you what -- when there is a web browser that is isn't brainsick, then I'll care about the UI implementation of broken <A> tags...

  • Goodbye HTML (4.0 is the final W3C specification)

    Hello XHML (HTML described in XML)

    As other posters have noted, a lot of problems have been caused by the so called "race to the bottom" where current browsers try to render the worst HTML code possible.

    That is exactly why we need XHTML where the authors are forced to write DTD compliant documents to start off with or they simply will not be displayed.

    This means that the people writing XML processors for a given browser don't have to worry about supporting anything outside the specification. (Although displaying useful error messages for incorrect documents may be a sticky point)

    For a good description on why we need XHTML, see http://www.webreference.com/xml/column6/ [webreference.com]

  • Give Opera a try. It has the capability.

    --
  • I think you mean Netscape 6.01, not 6.1. I've downloaded it, and haven't found any real differences as of yet...
    ---
  • Ahh, thanks, I remember getting those mixed up a while ago too.
  • Over time, the W3 Consortium's mandate has expanded massively - but I think they've gone way overboard in terms of trying to define usability. IMHO, it's very much the browser designers' choice whether to highlight links, report errors in a certain way, etc. The whole of section 1.x is entirely beyond their "jurisdiction" (let's remember that they're self appointed here, folks).

    Though I'm sure Jakob Nielson is delighted.
  • by ibpooks (127372) on Thursday February 08, 2001 @10:43AM (#445878) Homepage
    Here's one I'm surprised to see didn't show up: verbose page loading. What I mean by that is have the browser actually tell you what it's doing as it goes through the process of loading a page.

    I remember old browsers used to display information like:
    • Resolving name..
    • Contacting server
    • Negotiating connection
    • Downloading xxxx.html
    • Closing connection
    • Done.


    The trend I've seen in modern browsers simply say "Loading" or "Opening" without telling me what's happening. Having the extra information would help when troubleshooting what section of the content isn't loading.
  • by swordgeek (112599) on Thursday February 08, 2001 @10:43AM (#445881) Journal
    Why? What's so wonderful about Linus that his homepage should be the de facto standard for HTML? Sure he's done lots of great things in computing, but he's hardly an authority on HTML and web authoring standards.

    A little less hero worship, I think, would serve well.

  • by Anonymous Coward
    Bitch, bitch, bitch.

    "Oh so and so browser doesn't render properly"
    "Well, your browser introduced proprietary crap"
    "At least my company isn't co-opting the world"

    Blah, blah, blah. While I agree with many of the posts that lament about rendering and a lack of standards - I think we all need to get back to the basics: Useability. We've become so enamoured by our ability to 'do things', we've forgotten that the majority of people surfing beside us have little or no computer knowledge. They don't see the difference between a static HTML page and a page that was built on the fly using PHP and mySQL. What they do notice is incoherent navigation schemes and huge download times.

    Having worked extensively training new computer users of all ages, I think I have more hands-on useability experience than your typical Slashdot reader. The following are some improvements that need to be made (by browser authors and web designers):

    - 404 Errors, 500 Errors and so on. As one poster mentioned already: provide more information about these errors. A 404 File Not Found error means absolutely nothing to an 85 year old man. Make your own set of error pages that explain the error and how it could be fixed. Also provide a listing of other resources that are available on your site.

    - Information Architecture: Make the information on your page easy to find. Don't bury your content underneath a pile of Flash animations. Sit down and plan a navigation scheme that will allow users to easily find information on your site. Any first time computer user should be able to find the most obscure piece of information on your site in under a minute.

    - Another poster brought up another great point about . This is a terrible way for people to enter information. A first time comptuer user has no concept of HTML tags, as simple as they may be. We need to develop something that will allow them to highlight text and make formatting changes like they would in a word processor.

    - Cluttered Browsers: Most of the browsers available today are cluttered with buttons and advertising. Keep It Simple Stupid. People become easily confused by a wide variety of buttons. ICQ is a decent example. You have Basic and Advanced Modes. Web broswers should be the same. A basic mode has your most rudimentary buttons (forward, back, stop, bookmarks) while your advanced mode allows access to the "Search" and "History" 'tools' ahem.

    - Documentation: Provide some damn documentation with your browers. The current documentation is terrible. People can't find solutions to their problems... Mainly because the current documentation is poorly written and the information architecture of the documentation is terrible too. Make it simple. Have a list of "How-To" guides that explain basic concepts and provide screenshots.

    They may sound like inane suggestions, but they're improvements that would go a long way in making the surfing experience of beginners a lot more enjoyable.
  • by po_boy (69692) on Thursday February 08, 2001 @10:43AM (#445886) Homepage
    If it matters, I personally consider this one to be the most important:
    1.8 Provide a mechanism to allow authentication information to expire.

    Many browsers allow configuration to save HTTP authentication [RFC2616, RFC2617] information ("remember my password"). They should also allow users to "flush" that authentication information on request. For instance, the user may wish to leave the user agent running but tell it to forget the password to access the user's bank account.

    Wrong: Most user agents consider that authentication information (e.g., password) provided by a user for a server/realm pair during a session is immutable for the duration of the session.

    I don't think I'm the only one that finds it quite annoying to have to exit and restart my browser in order to make it forget my HTTP authemtication information. I believe Netscape and IE both have this problem.

    All your dangifiknow [dangifiknow.com] are belong to us.

  • I mean: the HTML syntax is so full of stupid things a normal standardisation organisation like ANSI or ISO would never include. Example? when you add a textbox to a page, you have to specify the LENGTH of the textbox in characters but you do that with the parameter 'size'. The MAXIMUM LENGTH of the textbox isn't maxsize or something, but maxlength... erm... first it's size now it's length.

    And there are a lot of these small things. An organisation that calls itself an official standardisation organisation should first think if they're capable of doing the job correctly before stepping forward with all kinds of 'do this and do that and everything will be allright'.

    Until then, I don't see HTML as a 'standard' which is standarized by a standardisation organisation, but 'just a propriatry language'.
    --

  • by techmuse (160085) on Thursday February 08, 2001 @10:44AM (#445893)
    More flexibility in caching algorithms - for example, cache images but refresh content would speed many browsers. IE5 caches based on time periods, which are either too long or too short for many sites. Allow users to define behavior of typing in a name into the url text box. Some browsers assume that this means that you want to search, or go to a database such as realnames. Defaulting to www..com (or .org or whatever) would simplify and speed browsing.
  • G-funk wrote,

    When will you people learn, that the look and feel of a site
    Is just as important as it's content?

    This is just wrong.

    If look and feel is just as important to you, the provider of the information, then the WWW with HTML is not for you. You want a flash presentation or a PDF.

    HTML is rendered on multiple platforms, on different media, for people with different requirements. There is simply no way one can ensure that the look and feel of a site is preserved. None. Not only that, but the attempts by authors to make them so generally result in making the content itself inaccessible to between 5% and 20% of readers. This is obviously screwy.

    I'm sure there are some applications for which the exact presentation of content is a crucial component of the content itself. I can't recall the last time I came across such a web page though. While there are thousands (millions?) which do sacrifice accessibility and usability on the altar of `user experience'.

    If you need exact presentation, use flash and PDF. If you actually have anything important to say, use HTML and live with the fact that it won't look (or sound, or print) the same to every reader. Just cope.

  • by thinmac (98095) on Thursday February 08, 2001 @10:47AM (#445897) Homepage
    These days, your browser is a tool you use with your computer, in the same way a text editor or ftp client has been for a while. This is especially true for many users of free software, since the documentation is, by and large, on the web. Browsers, on the other hand, have grown much like a microsoft product -- more complex, more bloated, and with more features rather than simple and functional. I would love to see a browser with the html rendering abilities of mozilla or internet explorer, but without all the other functions. Such a browser might still need frames support, and possibly javascript, but it wouldn't need to be your chat program, your html editor, or your kitchen sink. It seems like most browsers fall on either end: lynx which is stable but which can't see many of the sites which are written these days, and mozilla which takes up a lot of RAM and does everything you'll ever need to do on your computer.

    -thinmac
  • by AME (49105) on Friday February 09, 2001 @07:51AM (#445902) Homepage
    Content is not the most important part of a website...if either are lax your website is useless.

    Baloney. This is the information age, not the presentation age. I never go to a site to see what it looks like today. I want to find out what information is there today. If I'm interested in a 'user experience' I'll watch the commercials during the Super Bowl.

    If the presentation is poorly done (the definition of 'poorly done' is different for different people) then it might be useless to some people. If there is no or low quality content then the site is useless to everyone, except perhaps to those who visit sites just to see what they look like.

    Consider how cleverly crafted presentation will be lost on someone who is blind, color blind, epileptic, deaf, accessing the sight from a mobile phone, or some low bandwidth connection, etc.

    Most people don't go to the internet just to look at the pretty pictures.

    --

  • the ideal width of text lines is not as long as possible. The eyes have to scan too many times horizontally.

    Agreed. The concept of user interface design did not begin at Xerox PARC in the 70s. It goes back to stuff like stone tools and papyrus manuscripts.

    Ever wonder why magazines and newspapers break text up into columns rather than letting a paragraph run the entire width of the page? Hint: it's not because of adverts, or because their machines couldn't handle it. It's because they realized that eyes can't handle that much text all at once.

    BTW, median screen resolution is 800x600, and it's likely to get smaller in the next few years. Think Palm.

  • If saved locally, the filename on most computers should be html40.ps.gz for the applications to recognize the file type.

    This section bugged me too. IMO, the real mistake in that example is theirs by choosing an inaccurate file name. If it's a gzip archive of a postscript file, it should be named html40.ps.gz on their end, not html40.ps.

    BTW, most HTML files are sent without the content encoding command. Here's some example HTTP headers passed when I hit the Preview button:

    HTTP/1.1 200 OK Date: Fri, 09 Feb 2001 18:25:37 GMT Server: Apache/1.3.12 (Unix) mod_perl/1.24 Cache-control: private Connection: close Transfer-Encoding: chunked Content-Type: text/html
  • Until my boss gets a message saying that I made a "bad page", because <center>, <u>, <font>, and all the other tags I've been using for 5 years are depricated in HTML 4.0. And in another 5 years the page wont render because <p> and <br> have been depricated to support IE's new <div windowsaction='I Pressed the Enter Key' clsid='08D4326-09871254-00FA56D-33737'> tags.

    The biggest user agent problem I see is resultant from plugins. (and *cking Java applets) Most plugins only work with IE, and then after you download and install them to view the page, you are forced to reboot, then come back and re-find the page. And for all of that, you get a 3d rendered penguin in Metastream.

    And Java applets... Talk about "Is my computer locked up??" kinda days.... Egad...
  • by CaseyB (1105) on Thursday February 08, 2001 @10:49AM (#445922)
    How about not refusing to draw anything because an element isn't closed?

    This is part of the reason that web browsers suck: because people demand that they render broken content "nicely". I would much rather they render correct content properly, than do a half-assed job of rendering everything. "Best guessing" is precisely what leads to the non-deterministic behaviour the original poster complained of.

    If malformed content doesn't show up correctly, it's the author's fault, not the browser's.

  • by jandrese (485)
    No, frames didn't come along until the 2.x series. I remember when 2.0 came out and I discovered frames (only to be appalled at them and hoped they wouldn't be used). The 2.x series had terrible frame support though, the back button would bring you to the previous non-frame page you were on, it was really annoying. Thank you Netscape.

    Down that path lies madness. On the other hand, the road to hell is paved with melting snowballs.
  • id be happy to yell any fixes anyone would like to see implemented

    Support the font*: tags in CSS1 correctly so my pages don't look like garbage on Linux boxen.
  • One of the main problems with browsers is that the big players want to offer product differentiation, so people will design web pages that are "Best Viewed With BloatBrowser" and so they can leverage their free browser to get people to pay money to buy their non-free BloatAuthor HTML-plus-bloat-objects authoring tool and BloatServer web server and KitchenSinkWare email/calendar/dogwalking product.

    A related problem is that the Sun+Netscape Java Browser Conspiracy threatened to create a Runs-Almost-Anywhere programming environment that would make the underlying operating system mostly irrelevant, so software buyers and software users wouldn't have to care if they were using MacOS, Linux, FooBSD, Solaris, or those products from Redmond, which forced Microsoft to invade the browser market to keep from getting killed.

    Support The AnyBrowser Campaign at www.anybrowser.org [anybrowser.org]

  • by Gendou (234091) on Thursday February 08, 2001 @10:51AM (#445930) Homepage
    We're always arguing... "NS supports the standards." "IE supports the standards." Well, the thing is... it was a rush to become more popular with the standards that your browser introduced. In the case of IE vs. NS, the two biggest players when a lot of our standards were being formed, IE introduced the features that made webpages more flexable and dynamic. Netscape stagnated however, not really coming up with anything new. Internet Explorer won out and the W3C had to conform to it. And this is not necessarily a bad thing. Think about how far behind web technologies would be if NS was the dominant browser? Sure, NS and IE can do a lot of the same things - problem is, IE does them more cleanly whereas equivalent NS implimentations are essentially big ugly hacks. And well, of course, there's a plethora of useful features that are in IE that you could never do with NS. And when is the last time NS introduced anything new? *pfft*

    What makes browsers suck now? Everyone who makes a browser is very reluctant to follow the path of the ones who won the war. I can think of a few examples - specifically a few that IE introduced to CSS standards that Netscape rejected, Mozilla implimented then broke or removed, and no other browsers will do. I'm referring to the :hover property. Is this feature a bad thing? Absolutely not! Better than making a big hacky JavaScript solution to do the same thing. But will any other browsers support this? No. That's just stupid - and it's not the only example.

    Well, this post may jump around a lot and lack consistency, but I'm rushing to the point and I think the point is clear. Browsers suck because web developers want to use new technologies being developed by companies who build web browsers that introduce them. Then the other browsers refuse to adopt the new technologies - in several cases simply because the authors hate the company *coughMicrosoftcough* that introduced them. That's just stupid.

  • A quick search turned up this:
    http://www.php.net/manual/en/features.http-auth.ph p [php.net]
    Which shows how to get browsers to forget, by sending a 401 status at them...

    Hopefully this helps someone...
  • What you want is a really smart server. If User-Agent: == a certain set, say Mozilla or IE format the content a certain way and include stylesheets and JavaScript and the like. If the user agent is a Palm VII or Nokia phone format the content differently. This of course requires way more work on the part of the server and web admin. Separation of content and presentation is a good thing for high availability web sites. HTTP has lots of possibilities that haven't been explored in nearly enough detail yet.
  • Actually, what the W3C recommends is that the browser FIRST check to see if the link works, then take you to the page. If the page isn't there, just display an error pop-up message.

    --Chris ^^
    darkstarpro.com [darkstarpro.com]

  • Right on - The "recognized link types" have been in the HTML spec for a loooong time, and as far as I know they've never been implemented.

    I've been known to suffer brain farts when reading structured sites like documentation or other chaptered text where I think "I want to go and look at the last chapter" and I go and click on the back button taking me somewhere else. This usually happens when there is no navigation links constantly displayed in the window. (For example, in the common HTML rendering of the Linux HowTo format.)

    One implementation I could see is that the browser could display a special toolbar with Next Section, Prev Section, Contents, Index, etc when it encounters these link types on a page. I can't be too hard to do -- for example Windows Help has a similar implementation where pages know about the site structure. (And sure, this problem could be solved by Frames, but why not present this knowledge to the browser and let it deal with it.)
  • i remember reading up on these error messages a LONG time ago (at least six years) and thinking about how rarely i see 410 Gone. nowadays i sysadmin a couple of domains: do you know how to properly set this up in apache? i'd like to stick to the standard error codes as much as possible.

    - j
  • But the thing is, we don't want to have unpredictable UIs at the whim of the browser designer -- we want our web app to behave the same on every browser.
    That's stupid. If you don't want to make use of these 'unpredictable' browser UI features, then simply don't use the link elements, but don't try and screw it up for those who do want to use thes features.
  • I'm surprised that they didn't say anything about Microsoft's Embrace and Extend program. I've seen Netscape get a bad rap ALOT because it poorly renders poorly written code.

    I'd say it does the right thing alot and guesses a lot less at what the developer was trying to do. But the way it looks to the average user is "This site works in IE, but not in Netscape, Netscape must suck." Usually its the page that sucks in my experience.


    Now I think that somethings could be done better, but we get these developers who write everything only looking at IE and then when their code doesn't work in Netscape, again Netscape gets a bad rap. But doesn't Netscape hold developers to a higher standard than IE?
  • 1. That would be Transfer-encoding, a Content-encoding is not supposed to be removed by the UA, (except to display it) while a transfer encoding is transparent and should be removed.

    2. AFAIK almost no-one uses compressed HTML because of a Windows IE bug. Blame Bill.
  • s/stagnated/suffocated/. The reason NS was stuck at version 4.x for so many years is because MS "cut off their air supply". They couldn't afford to develop a new version because there was no longer any way to recoup the development costs.

    Netscape were doing well for a while - but they too had their dominance in the industry. They were so smug with what they ahd accomplished, they saw no need to improve. Communicator was an attempt to fight back at MS, who were building an impressive web browser. And, NS only went half-way with it. It was hardly anything new and impressive.

    That is why we have the situation we have today. A lot of people liked (and still like) Netscape but were stuck with the 4.x browser because of MS's illegal business practices. So a lot of web developers had to develop for a bitrotten browser instead of making use of new standards like CSS (yes, NS4 had some sucky CSS support (so did IE 4)). Finally, everyone said "fuck it" and developed for IE 5.

    Totally wrong. IE4 was probably the first browser to actually do CSS right. Now granted, IE2 and IE3 were worlds behind NS2 and 3 respectively, but IE4 is the one that sped away in the technology race. But you're only partially right on the issue of NS4 having some sucky CSS support... it had VERY sucky CSS support. Btw, you're comment about the hover function. Geez dude. Are you so myopic that you could only get that from the statement? The point was is there is a lot of very basic simple support that Netscape just neglected to product. Duh.

    When MS won the browser war, it wasn't just NS who lost. We all did.

    Pffft... You know, as a Linux user and open source advocate, the only things I find myself jealous of Windows users are their web browser and well design multimedia architecture. IE is so incredibly nice and it's such an excellent browser - faster, more stable, and cleaner overall. The only way we've lost is that we just don't get the source to IE and someday, that might even change. *shrug* Of course then again, I'm building my own technologies that are 100% browser independant (thankfully there's no conflicts over ECMA standards :-).

  • Yeah, but some people just cut and paste from other people's web pages the DOCTYPE tags (with no understanding whatsoever of what it is all about) and then code to a different standard. Just heard about that this week. Sad but true.
  • Sorry, you caught me in beligerent mode. I figured you were accusing one browser or the other of being broken because the images were different.

    when i look at some website, i'd like too see it just the same no matter what browser i am using. Pictures included.

    You'll never ever fix pathological cases like this one, unless every browser uses the _same_ rendering code. (On the same hardware, for that matter...) You can always exploit differences in implementation.

    are there still standards?

    Sure! If you use conservative HTML 3.2, or even most of 4.0, you can show a page that looks nearly identical on most every browser. Oh, you want to use your new Java-Flash-PNG-Javascript-whizbang navigation system? Sorry. If you want nonstandard functionality, you have to take advantage of nonstandard features.

    What people seem to have trouble understanding is that most sites that are "incompatible" with one browser or another are that way because of a _conscious decision_ on the part of the authors!

    And I saw the elephant. Does that mean my browser "lost"? :)

  • There is something in the specifications that says you can't have a spell checker in the text area widget?

  • by CaseyB (1105) on Thursday February 08, 2001 @10:56AM (#445978)
    This would be a biting and insightful comment if Internet Explorer didn't have the most comprehensive support for W3C standards of any browser in existence.
  • by Enry (630) <enryNO@SPAMwayga.net> on Thursday February 08, 2001 @10:56AM (#445980) Journal
    Ooh....my tags got taken literally. Rats. Should read:

    Then came <blink>. And <center> . And <font> and all hell broke loose.
  • Just to be clear, I think that it IS a good idea for somebody to have a rudimentary knowledge of HTML markup.

    Regardless, I don't count on anybody having that knowledge. You liken the concept of HTML to the knowledge of the difference between the clutch and the accelerator. If you base your argument on this comparison, you're correct. However, the comparison is erroneous.

    The functioning of a car is dependant on the proper use and understanding of the clutch and accelerator. There is no way to operate a car successfully if you don't know how to use them properly.

    On the other hand, a Web page can be successfully navigated without the use of the keyboard at all, much less the need to type HTML tags. A "talkback" section can disallow HTML completely. You can function FOREVER on the Web without knowing how to type HTML tags.

    The clutch/accelerator analogy is closer to the Back/Forward buttons on a browser window. Not knowing how to use those will stall you fairly quickly on a typical web site, just like the improper use of a clutch will. A more proper analogy for HTML tags to a car would be the wiring behind the dashboard that makes the radio or the spedometer light up. It's not complicated, and a few days spent studying it will familiarize you with how it works, but is completely unnessecary to the proper operation of the car.

    Thus, my argument still stands -- why must we force non-mechanics learn the language of mechanics in order to write simple notes on a Web site?

  • by WindowsTroll (243509) on Thursday February 08, 2001 @10:56AM (#445983) Homepage
    is that so many browsers don't render pages correctly.

    - There is a clearly articulated definition of what tags are supported
    - there is a clearly articulated definition of what the tags are supposed to do and how they are to be rendered

    My question is why do so many browser not render correctly? What is so hard? One of the hardest parts of programming is requirements definition for the software being written, and getting the customer/boss to clearly articulate what they want the software to do and how it should perform. Once you have the iron-clad requirements written down, the rest of the work is a piece of cake - it is implimentation and testing against the requirements.

    In the case of HTML, where there are clear definitions for 3.2 and 4.0, a list of what is deprecated and what is supported, if web page authors stuck to the STANDARD and not use browser specific tags, then there is no reason that the page should not display identically on each persons browser. I find it unfathomable that this is not the case.

  • I strongly disagree... Any webpage author should know in detail how web servers communicate and how web browsers interpret the data. I think that this document is important to everyone!

    --Chris ^^
    darkstarpro.com [darkstarpro.com]

  • I hate web sites that give you a 20 characters wide textarea when most of us are using at least 1024x768 for browsers. I personally use 1600x1280.

    You shouldn't.
    I think that scientific design says that the ideal width of text lines is not as long as possible. The eyes have to scan too many times horizontally. It is better to keep the number of scans per line to 2 or 3 (from memory).

    So even when I have a big monitor, I don't maximize my browser window.
    __
  • by joemaller (37695) on Thursday February 08, 2001 @11:01AM (#446004) Homepage
    This attitude about Web design is one of the reasons the Internet went broke. (another one is lame, hopelessly flawed business plans)

    Web designers need to remember that Web design is not print. Documents will be changed by users and users should have that freedom. Worry more about information architecture, it's the content that ultimately matters. Design shouldn't just be decoration that viewers have to conform to, design should help viewers to better comprehend the information they're seeing.

    What about handicapped users? Or those who need larger type to see? What about celphone browsers? PalmOS? WebTV? Crappy WindowsCE appliances in the airport business lounge?

    Web design extends traditional design towards architecture and engineering. Good Web design is flexible. It doesn't matter what the building looks like if it falls on your head.

    Strict adherence to standards is the best thing we've got. Letting go of the bells and whistles is better for your clients, your audience, your bottom line and your sanity.
  • Actually, Netscape 4.76 still does this... At least on my SPARC Solaris version. The only thing is that since the connection to the internet is so darn fast, the messages flash by faster than you get a chance to read them.

    I think the argument that browsers only say "Opening page..." is because that person is using Internet Explorer.
    --

  • This would be a biting and insightful comment if Internet Explorer didn't have the most comprehensive support for W3C standards of any browser in existence.

    i don't know about you, but I get bit by web pages that have incomplete tags all the time. That, in the context of this recommendation:

    1.7 Warn users about incomplete documents and transfers.

    sort of like saying "it is not completely bad, just mostly"

    I just get bent out of shape by MS abuse of the standards process.

    pardon me.

  • Amiga Voyager [vapor.com] has a little bank of dots on the status bar, which show a colour to represent each concurrent connection. The primary connection (ie, the page being loaded in that window) gets to write 'looking up', 'reading', 'stalled', etc, into the status bar. Would that help?
  • This is actually already available in the browser I use daily; Opera (yes, it has some good ideas built into it too).

    You can specifiy time periods for when it should check whether the document, image or "other" has been modified in days, hours, mins and also "always" and "never". I've seen it cache CGI-output and not bother to contact the server, which of course gives a blazingly fast loading of pages.

    It's already been thought of, at least on the client-side, but not in one of the "major two" browsers.

  • by krappie (172561) on Thursday February 08, 2001 @11:04AM (#446018)
    What I dont understand is why browsers don't have better support for downloading and resuming of files. Why do programs like GetRight and Gozilla have to exist, catching clicks in browsers and downloading for us? And it would be twice as good if the browser could crash, and your download window keep downloading. I personally run mozilla and I'll use wget for huge files and resuming. It would be nice if I could do it right in mozilla.
  • by Alan (347) <arcterex@uf i e s.org> on Thursday February 08, 2001 @11:16AM (#446026) Homepage
    Now don't get me wrong, I'm a mozilla supporter, but it really pisses me off (and wastes time) everytime someone says that, because this is what happens:
    • Someone says IE/mozilla is the most standard compliants brower
    • Someone else says that mozilla/IE is the most comliant
    • Someone quotes a webpage that confirms their view of IE/mozilla being the most compliant
    • Someone accuses that page of being written by IE/mozilla supporter/bigot and posts a page to another unbiased view showing that mozilla/IE is the most compliant
    • Someone else discovers that that page is written by a company or supporter of mozilla/IE, and posts their own rant, quoting pages where IE/mozilla won't work.
    • Rant about pages where IE/mozilla won't work.
    • Name calling starts.
    • The sane people continue to surf on, and accept (grudgingly) the fact that no matter how standards compliant something is (or isn't) there are still pages that won't render right, and until everyone gets to the same point of standards compliance/un-compliance, anyone writing web pages is still hooped as far as making everything look the same for everyone
    • If we're lucky, everyone reverts to tableless pages with grey backgrounds.

  • by ChaosDiscord (4913) on Thursday February 08, 2001 @11:18AM (#446032) Homepage Journal
    Actually, most users are confused by verbose details. If you present the information, they assume it must be important and that they should understand it. "It says it's 'negotiating connection.' Is that good or bad?" If you tell the user to ignore the messages, you're reinforcing the perception that computers are very complex and the user isn't really smart enough to use them. Hiding the unnecessary complexity makes the experience more comfortable for the user.

    That said, having an option "[ ] Show me details when downloading a page" would be great for those of us who can use the information.

  • by kyz (225372) on Thursday February 08, 2001 @11:08AM (#446039) Homepage
    Braille? How's that supposed to work? Little pimples raise up on the screen?

    ...pimples on a screen reader, actually. Most screen readers plug in the serial port and display one or two horizontal lines of text. Linux supports this for the console, in fact SuSE 7 automatically runs its installer in text mode if it detects a braille screen reader.

    More advanced software for Windows writes what line is currently under the mouse pointer, provided it's text and not a graphic.
  • by Alan (347) <arcterex@uf i e s.org> on Thursday February 08, 2001 @11:08AM (#446042) Homepage
    Which is nice and good, but the problem is now the web is not driven by content any more. If the web were driven by content, (as a poster above notes) it wouldn't matter that netscape didn't follow w3c standards perfect, or if IE actually was the best browser in the entire universe, because I'd still be able to view every page I wanted to, and get the content therein.

    Too bad now that 99% of the surfers out there don't care about content, but instead want their flashy, bullshit "user experience" to make it easier for them to read the bullet points of the information they're looking for. When was the last time you actually *read* a page full of content, that wasn't marked up to hell and back. I'm not saying everything out there should be block text for pages and pages, of course :) Just that that sort of page is slowly dissapearing.

    Sometimes I *do* want the web to go back to the netscape 1.0 days (tables! wow!) where everything was grey (well, 1.0 had bgcolor I guess, so pre-1.0 days) when you surfed the web for information, not "experience". If I wanted experience back then I'd go outside and take a walk, watch a movie, or whatever.
  • by ChaosDiscord (4913) on Thursday February 08, 2001 @11:26AM (#446063) Homepage Journal
    It's dangerous to second guess the web designer. The 404 page may contain useful information for the user. Sure, most pages unhelpfully state "404 File Not Found" and little more, but it's possible for a page to be much more helpful. A site could have their 404 page automatically do a search to find the requested resource. Here is a good example at Wizards of the Coast [wizards.com]. A site could present a list of resources the site does, since one of them is likely to be helpful. Perhaps the page is gone because the client's account was terminated. I'd like to receive a message like "This user violated our Acceptable Use Policy and has had their account terminated. The page you are looking for is gone for good."
  • by Mike Hicks (244) <hick0088@tc.umn.edu> on Thursday February 08, 2001 @11:35AM (#446074) Homepage Journal
    I found section 1.3 interesting (``Allow the user to retrieve Web resources even if the browser cannot render them''). In my experience, it's often not the fault of the browser maker, but the site designer. How many times have you tried to view a video or audio clip, only to be diverted away because the javascript on the web pages can't tell if your browser has a plugin for the media type (as if you really need a plugin in the first place...)
    --

Unix is the worst operating system; except for all others. -- Berry Kercheval

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