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Re: [css-d] Divergence between compliant browsers

Sent by Shirley Kaiser on 29 January 2002 12:12

Hi, Jeffrey,

I was hoping you'd pop in with some discussion on this new list. :-)

I'll discuss below within your note.

At 11:07 AM 1/29/2002 -0500, Jeffrey Zeldman wrote:

>Eric's fine article 
>( is 
>helpful and was needed, but in illuminating a difference in CSS 
>interpretation between Mozilla and IE, it raises troubling practical questions.
>Will clients allow us to go back into existing sites -- sites that are 
>already published and paid for -- and modify their Style Sheets to prevent 
>Mozilla and its derivatives from "breaking" table-based layouts?

This is indeed a good question. A common question would be if it's worth 
doing or not, and they'd ask about numbers using it now, projected numbers, 
how it may apply to them. Then there are the other questions, too, so I'll 
continue below.

Before I get to that, though....

This is also an important reason for considering a forward compatibility 
approach. This doesn't take care of so many sites at the moment, obviously, 
but we can start now with designing with forward compatibility in mind, 
getting away from reliance on tables except for their intended tabular data 

But on to what we're faced with for the present with so many of our 
existing designs....

>Will those clients who allow us to do so pay us for our time? If not, can 
>all of us afford to do this work without compensation?

I'm taking this on an individual basis. Some will compensate, some don't 
want to bother. For those that don't want to compensate, I consider the 
time necessary, if it's worth that, projected lifespan of the site if a 
redesign is anticipated, for example. I've also been talking with clients 
about forward thinking design to try to avoid these problems in the future.

>Will less-than-knowledgeable clients (i.e. many web clients) blame us for 
>for "not having done it right in the first place?"

Possibly, depending on the client, the relationship, their confidence in 
their designer.

>Will less-than-knowledgeable clients think Mozilla is broken?

Possibly, and some already do.

>Will they write off Mozilla/NN6 as "too little used at this time to worry 

Some already have that I'm aware of right now. Some also have lost faith in 
Netscape, especially those who rely on the e-mail client.... which has been 
riddled with problems with NN6.x. They relate to their own browser use, 
which usually is often combined with the e-mail client, and often whatever 
comes on their computers or is dictated by their day job's company.

>If clients do not permit designers and developers to go back into existing 
>sites and alter their Style Sheets to accommodate the way Mozilla/NN6 now 
>renders table-based layouts, will users think Mozilla/NN6 is "broken?"

Most likely... or they'll blame the designer... or both.

>  If so, will this decrease user adoption of Mozilla and its derivatives, 
> thus driving even more users to IE?

Logical outcome.

>(And what impact would such a result have on the future of standards 
>compliance across all browsers?)

<sigh> Seems like part of that would depend on how IE continues to evolve 
in its compliancy. This also opens the doors more for alternative browsers, 
such as Opera, iCab, and others that are striving toward compliancy and 
continue to build positive reputations.

>Will designers and developers who haven't read Eric's article and the 
>related quarreling in www-style 
>( think 
>web standards are broken/not ready for Prime Time?

My own observations are that
<generally speaking>
many who support web standards feel that the software programs and browsers 
are broken/not ready for Prime Time rather than web standards. However, 
here are a few things I've also observed (but in much smaller numbers):

1. _some_ don't think standards are worth the time and effort and that it's 
too complicated to achieve a good design and still validate.
2. _some_ think that standards advocates are too radical and unrealistic.
3. _some_ think standards are only for purists.

  _Most_ of my observations are that those who know about web standards 
feel they are important and that we need to continue to push for standards.

Many really don't understand what web standards means, most have heard of 
W3C, some of them know they have validating tools.

Many of us here on this list, of course, are well aware of all these 
things. I'm addressing other lists I've observed, for example, with many 
newbies to intermediate designers, many who design their company sites even 
though their main jobs are something else, or those volunteering to design 
a site for some non-profit organization, and similar pictures like that.
</generally speaking>

>Will those who've read Eric's article and the related quarreling in 
>www-style come to the same conclusion?
>I've read the relevant www-style threads, respect the intellect and 
>integrity of all concerned, and fully appreciate that they know more about 
>CSS than I ever will. I also appreciate that Mozilla/Netscape is doing the 
>right thing in fully complying with CSS according to the best 
>interpretation of its experts.
>But the practical implications of this divergence between IE and Mozilla 
>concern me per all the unanswered questions asked above.

Quite understandably. Me, too.

As we've previously discussed elsewhere, this is another reason why I see 
the strong need for more education about standards and real world, 
practical solutions and examples. This needs to be in layman's terms, too, 
not just for us geeky ones. <grin>

>Particularly as I don't see sliced image layouts going away any time soon, 
>I fear that this divergence between our most compliant browsers will make 
>development more, not less, costly and complex.

That's certainly a potential possibility.

>I also worry that it may negatively impact the already-slow adoption of 

Me, too.

>and could convince some clients and developers that web standards are 
>unnecessarily complicated and more trouble than they're worth.

I'm interested in feedback about this, too, of course. Many haven't even 
tested with Netscape 6 yet, but many who do are faced with this table gap 
issue. That's the common question I see about Netscape 6.

>If these questions were inappropriate to this list, please let me know. I 
>do not intend to stir up theoretical arguments on this list, whose ground 
>rules ( clearly 
>indicate a preference for practical discussion over theory -- a preference 
>I share. As a working stiff trying to move my clients closer to W3C 
>compliance, I raise these issues in hopes they may generate practical 
>discussion and experience-based tips.

Personally, I'm thrilled to see this important issue raised. These are the 
critical questions we're faced with and must answer. And I also feel we 
must come up with practical solutions that are forward thinking and 
standards based. I've mentioned above and elsewhere how I feel about 
education, and I know you also feel it's critically important.

I look forward to some good discussion about these issues, too.


>as needed:
>design & consulting:

Shirley E. Kaiser, M.A.,  SKDesigns  [EMAIL-REMOVED]
Web Site Design, Development
WebsiteTips: Design Resources
Brainstorms and Raves
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