George Hayhoe's Observation

Subject: George Hayhoe's Observation
From: Tim Altom <taltom -at- IQUEST -dot- NET>
Date: Sat, 11 Apr 1998 15:59:36 -0400

-----Original Message-----
From: George F. Hayhoe <george -at- GHAYHOE -dot- COM>
Date: Saturday, April 11, 1998 1:47 PM
Subject: Re: TECHWR-L Digest - 9 Apr 1998 to 10 Apr 1998

>When redesigning my own site recently, I discovered that specifying a
>"default" page background in FrontPage 98 will result in a gray background
>when viewed with Netscape 3. (Remember all those dreadfully unreadable gray
>pages from the early days of the WWW?) For the page background to display
>white in all browsers, you must choose "white" not "default."
>It's advisable to test your site with multiple computers, multiple
>platforms, and multiple releases of multiple browsers. Unfortunately, the
>browser manufacturers don't seem to make it easy to do the last of these.

Nor is it easy even if the browser manufacturers collaborate and cooperate.
Most shops don't have all three Big Sisters: Mac, PC, and Unix. And within
them the various Mac OS's, Windows variants, and Unix flavors. And within
THOSE the different browser versions.

Of far more usefulness, it seems to me, is a) an extensive working knowledge
of HTML and how it affects browsers (hard to acquire unless you do web
coding a lot), or b) a tool that can spot such problems for you. So far as I
know there isn't a web authoring tool out there that's always on top of
everything and capable of making bulletproof web pages. The problem only
surges when we try to provide our websites with automatically converted
manual or catalog pages. And add to that the need for special frames or
scripting, and the potential for mischief approaches certainty. Something's
going to get hosed.

Supposedly validators do this job, but then you're trusting the guy who
programmed the validator, which isn't always a good thing to do either. Many
validators don't validate complex scripts, for example. And of course
there's Java applets that require download and ActiveX controls that you
need for some special effects, and on and on. That's why I still believe in
keeping the flashier effects away from web pages and keeping the sites as
simple as possible. There are too many chances for things to og wrnog.

>--George Hayhoe (george -at- ghayhoe -dot- com)
>George Hayhoe Associates
>Voice: +1 (803) 642-2156
>Fax: +1 (803) 642-9325
Tim Altom
Simply Written, Inc.
Creators of the Clustar Method for task-based documentation

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