How many browsers are on your Mac? For most of us, there’s Safari, perhaps Firefox, maybe even Google’s new Chrome.
A few diehards hang around Camino, SeaMonkey, OmniWeb or any one of a dozen or so Mac browsers. For Windows PC users, the choices or greater and worse. What we need is a web standard for browsers. Here’s why.
The Elusive Web Page Standard
In short, HTML is the code used to frame and structure the content of a web page.
The standards body is W3C which provides detailed documents and instructions on how the various forms of HTML, XHTML, or CSS should be displayed by browsers.
If you’ve ever noticed that some web pages don’t look the same in different browsers then you’ve experienced the problem with the so-called W3C standards. There’s a standard but not every browser maker follows it.
The Worst Culprit of All Time
Extending the standard of how a web page should be viewed started with Netscape back in the day. Netscape got tired of waiting for new and more capable standards to emerge so they made their own extensions.
Microsoft got on board and created proprietary extensions for Internet Explorer. Added functionality is nice, of course, but over the years the lack of adherence to standards meant that some web pages would work only in some browser, and perhaps not in others.
It was a mess. It is a mess. Microsoft has been the worst culprit, choosing proprietary rendering vs. adhering to the W3C web page display standards. There are a dozen or so popular web browsers, and all choose to display a web page differently.
The Browser Version Wars
In the earlier part of the 21st century, Mozilla introduced Firefox and Apple introduced Safari—both for Mac and Windows PC users. Firefox and Safari adhered closer to those web page rendering standards than any previous browser.
In other words, a web page viewed in Firefox and Safari would usually appear the same in layout, style, and color. Not so with Microsoft’s once dominant Internet Explorer. MSIE, in various flavors from version 6, 7, 8, and soon 9, was the de facto standard because more users viewed web pages in Microsoft browsers.
The problem is that even Internet Explorer can’t agree among its various versions how a web page would look. Web page coders had to build in all kinds of tricks and hacks to account for the wide variety of page renderings in all the browsers.
For those Mac users who actually use two or three different browsers, we do so because of features, and not so much how pages are displayed by the browsers.
Poor Windows PC users have it worse with MSIE, which often doesn’t display web pages the same in any version, causing even more nightmares for web page coders.
What we need is a standard that actually works. Why?
Coming Together To Bring Us Apart
Wait. Isn’t that what HTML5 is supposed to do? Yes. But it may take a decade for widespread implementation to occur.
Today’s soapbox diatribe began a few weeks ago as the Mac360 web site went through some code housecleaning and code refreshing, in an attempt to adhere more closely to the web code standards flaunted by Microsoft and most sites.
For now, Mac360 uses valid XHTML (except for some 3rd part advertiser code) as the framework instead of HTML5 because it renders better on more browsers. Our CSS adheres to the 2.1 standard and pending 3.0 standard.
The problem is this. Even when a web page adheres to both valid XHTML and CSS code, it may display differently in various browsers. That’s a problem for readers and coders. If you view Mac360’s new look it different browsers, you’ll see that it’s about the same in Firefox, Safari, and Google Chrome, Mac or Windows. After that, it gets messy.
Mac360 usually looks acceptable in Internet Explorer 8 and 9, less so in version 7, and hardly at all in version 6. Fortunately, readers using Internet Explorer make up barely 5-percent of Mac360 readers, and version 6 less than 1-percent (version 7.x accounts for almost 25-percent of all Windows PC visitors to Mac360; less than 2-percent total).
Lines have to be drawn in the sand somewhere so we’re drawing the line at Internet Explorer 6 and 7. If you use those browsers you need to upgrade to a better browser (Firefox, Safari, Chrome), or to MSIE 8 to enjoy Mac360. The world will be a better place.
Paying Tribute With A New Look
The Mac360 design for the new year is a blend of old and new. The familiar color scheme is similar, but tweaked, yet retains and pays homage to the unique look designed by Tera Jean Patricks in the early days. The layout is much wider, more open, more accessible; every page is but a click or search away.
We’ll do our best to adhere to advancing internet standards and only wish that other browser makers would do the same (Microsoft, we’re looking at you).