Skip

Netscape 4.77???
April 2, 2001 4:23 PM   Subscribe

Netscape 4.77??? Apparently someone at Netscape/AOL thinks they can polish a turd. KILL IT ALREADY, and end this sham. NS4.x just isn't viable anymore, and continually repackaging it fools no one.
posted by darukaru (62 comments total)

 
Actually, this reminds me of the saga of one of the contenders in the crowded Mac MP3 player arena. All the programmers abandoned the company, and all that was left was a marketer. Since he couldn't actually enhance the product, he threw some extra plugins and skins into the distribution and triumphantly released it as 1.0r2. No one was fooled then, either.
posted by darukaru at 4:29 PM on April 2, 2001


Any thoughts on the Opera browser? I understand a new final version was, or is about to be released?
posted by ParisParamus at 4:33 PM on April 2, 2001


>polish a turd

Truly, one of my favorite phrases.
posted by jessie at 5:10 PM on April 2, 2001


In the world outside of MeFi, continuing to fix bugs in a product still used daily by tens of thousands of people would generally be considered to be a good thing.
posted by kindall at 5:23 PM on April 2, 2001


Are they really fixing bugs though? When I used Netscape after AOL bought them out every upgrade would have a new 'shop' button or bundle with AIM, etc while memory leaks and instabilities were never addressed.
posted by skallas at 5:39 PM on April 2, 2001


A .01 increment is usually a maintenance (mostly bug-fix) release, yes.
posted by kindall at 6:17 PM on April 2, 2001


ParisParamus: I use Opera and I'm very satisfied with it. It has some really cool features that neither IE or NS does. However, it occasionally crashes when it encounters stuff like Java. (My current install is on top of NT, and I suspect that is at least part of the problem.)
posted by Witold at 6:27 PM on April 2, 2001


Opera feels much faster than IE5 on my Mac. Unfortunately, their software doesn't work under the Classic environment in OS X so I have to resort to using an inferior browser.
posted by gyc at 6:31 PM on April 2, 2001


Witold: I have the same problem with Opera while working in Windows ME. I like the browser, but a crash when trying to work in, say, Atom Films can be highly annoying. I say only annoying because the thing's so fast otherwise. For non bigtime Flash-y pages it rocks.
posted by raysmj at 6:33 PM on April 2, 2001


But Opera's so ug-lee.
posted by rodii at 6:49 PM on April 2, 2001


Kill it? How pompous. For many people older browsers are the only thing that will run relatively quick on their machines. It's nice to live in a world where you have the money, huh?

Clue: most people don't upgrade because they see no need and the things made possible in the newer browsers are simply not compelling. Understand that you are not average. You are an advanced Internet user and the world does not revolve around you. As much as you scoff at people using older browsers, they scoff at you.
posted by fleener at 7:05 PM on April 2, 2001


As much as you scoff at people using older browsers, they scoff at you.

Yeah, but we scoff twice as quickly as they do. thanks to our advanced machines.
posted by rcade at 7:13 PM on April 2, 2001


I compared the binaries of 4.76 and 4.77 on my Mac, and discovered less than 128K of difference between them. And yet, this 128K difference requires a 15-meg download for the full Communicator package or an 11-meg SmartUpdate. It was slow for me, and I'm on cable. I shudder to think how long it would take on a 28.8. And this is helping people with older machines?

I have no beef with Netscape releasing patches to fix bugs and security vulnerabilities. Heck, I wouldn't mind the giant package downloads if each 4.x iteration offered something new. It's the continual repackaging of the 4.x series as if it were under active feature development that burns my bacon.
posted by darukaru at 7:16 PM on April 2, 2001


rodii: on full screen, they all look the same anyway. (Pause.) I was trying to make a pun out of that, but time is short.
posted by raysmj at 7:54 PM on April 2, 2001


So all mudslinging aside, does it *work*?
posted by Lynsey at 8:34 PM on April 2, 2001


Define work. It still has lousy (read: almost none) CSS support and is no where near close to standards compliant at all. Which begs the question once more - why the hell are they bothering? Work on something *useful*!
posted by Dreama at 8:54 PM on April 2, 2001


Lynsey, it depends how you define *work*.

Will it display the majority of web pages out there right now satisfactorily?
Yes, most of the time.

Will it occasionally hang?
Maybe.

Will it consume an ever increasing proportion of your resources as it leaks memory, forcing periodic reboots?
Probably.

Will it be incapable of displaying more and more sites as time moves on and developers educate themselves about the opportunities available from a well scripted site using the latest W3C standards for the Document Object Model and CSS2?
Undoubtedly.
posted by normy at 9:06 PM on April 2, 2001


Darn it, normy, I thought you were gonna post that all those problems had been solved. I hoped someone would post that it's way better than 4.75 and more easily usable than 6. I guess I just wanted something more like IE in a non-Microsoft environment that *does* work with Java and other plugins, but I guess there's no way to have that without entering AOL hell. Can't anyone make a browser that isn't a mem-hog that people actually like to use, that will run on anyone's machine and dislay all the latest in web design standards?
posted by Lynsey at 9:18 PM on April 2, 2001


banging my drum

I've downloaded 4.77 and I can't tell the difference - it's doesn't seem to be crashing on a few CSS pages. Considering 6 and 4 are different teams (mozilla.org vs aolised netscape) there's no divided effort. I'm glad they released it.
posted by holloway at 9:46 PM on April 2, 2001


Can't anyone make a browser that isn't a mem-hog that people actually like to use, that will run on anyone's machine and dislay all the latest in web design standards?

I suspect 'they' probably can and probably will, eventually. But we're maybe a few years away yet. The problem is twofold and founded in the way the web evolved, rather than being designed in any meaningful sense:

Firstly, any browser in the current marketplace must not only meet the standards we all want, but must also support all the proprietary dross and odd markup thats out there already (or at least a generous portion of it).
Secondly, from a software company's point of view, there simply isn't a profit to be made by investing the resources necessary to make a 'good' browser (by anyone's criteria). Making a browser rendering engine is a very difficult and complex design problem and the competition is giving them away. Why even try?
posted by normy at 9:47 PM on April 2, 2001


Will it be incapable of displaying more and more sites as time moves on and developers educate themselves about the opportunities available from a well scripted site using the latest W3C standards for the Document Object Model and CSS2? Undoubtedly.

Feh. A well authored page will be accessible and usable in Lynx, you can simulate Lynx and see what your favorite sites work like in Lynx.

The folks who complain that a particular browser should just die already are whiners.
posted by artlung at 10:22 PM on April 2, 2001


I have to say, having used Netscape, Opera's Tech Preview, IE for Windows, AOL's IE, and IE 5.0 for Mac, the last of these is amazingly more pleasant and enjoyable to use, even running over AOL with a modem. Now, if only the rest of Microsoft would disappear....
posted by ParisParamus at 10:42 PM on April 2, 2001


artlung, its my experience that well authored sites that use CSS to its fullest are interpreted better by Lynx than those that are a mess of HTML formatting tags and tables. Its yet another benefit of that 'separating style from content' thing.
posted by normy at 10:44 PM on April 2, 2001


has anyone thought to examine the changelog?
posted by titboy at 12:17 AM on April 3, 2001


to normy:

well authored pages degrade gracefully. whether they use tables, or css, or both. Netscape 4 is indeed a possible target worth considering for web authors.

my contention is that the change in authoring style is to be determined by individual authors. web authoring techniques should is not one defined by dogma, it's defined by use.

Web browser adoption can't be mandated.
posted by artlung at 12:57 AM on April 3, 2001


actually, i rephrase my question.

has anybody found the changelog?

am i just looking in all the wrong places, or have netscape made it completely non-obvious as to how to how to check what has been changed between versions.
posted by titboy at 1:46 AM on April 3, 2001


I wouldn't say it degrades "gracefully" - it degrades, and one can still read the text - but the coding style changes from DIVs to TABLEs isn't a graceful one (as the change from HTML 3.2 to 4.0 was). HTML isn't a brittle binary format, sure... it's markup, but it can still be badly rendered by an old browser (similarly an old page and a new browser).

It certainly results in a less usable webpage when a three-column layout becomes a three row layout without colour and appropriate fonts and font-size. Most users won't be as happy with these new standards because browsers such as N4 haven't got a successor yet (N6 wasn't ready and we all know it - I'm waiting for Mozilla 1.0).

The worst thing about the webdesigner backlash of a few years ago is people's mindless embrace of standards[*]. Users don't give two hoots about your markup elegance or coding style - and right now this doesn't help them.

[*] sanely applied standards are another thing.
posted by holloway at 4:45 AM on April 3, 2001


from alistapart.com, the KILL IT ALREADY link:

> If this site is readable, but looks as plain as an Amish
> coat, your browser does not support web standards.
> Fortunately, you can easily upgrade to one that does.

Not bloody likely. The plain-Amish version of this page looks better than the correctly rendered one -- which (like 99.999% of the professionally designed web pages that exist) looks like an ad flyer some flack handed you in a parking lot and that you threw in the trash without looking at it.


> The content of this site will be accessible in any
> browser, but the design will only work in browsers that
> support CSS-1.

I think I'll start collecting noncompliant browsers right now and see which one does the best job of displaying content while discarding "design." (I know, I know, Lynx...) That one little word "design" accounts for most of what makes the www slow-loading, and tacky as Cosmopolitan.


> This is not about graphic design. It's about the
> separation of style from content...

Exactly. Keep the content, ditch the "style." If your content doesn't stand on its own without an overlarding of "style" then it's catshit anyway, and I prefer catshit to look like what it is, rather than being concealed under a banana split. Is there some special school where web designers go to learn Angry Fruit Salad(tm)? Because that's sure what's on the menu from one end of the web to the other.


> Who cares?
>
> If you're a web designer, you do. In six months, a year,
> or two years at most, all websites will be designed with
> these standards. (Or they will be built with Flash 7.)
> We can watch our skills grow obsolete, or start learning
> standards-based techniques now.
>
> Given the dot-com economy's recent woes, counting on your
> existing skills to keep you employed does not look like a
> promising strategy.

Here's alistapart's agenda right here. Note that it has nothing whatever to do with improving the web for users. It's "Everybody out there upgrade your browsers RIGHT NOW to keep us employed."
posted by jfuller at 6:27 AM on April 3, 2001


jfuller, your view has been a minority one for years. Get over it.

The beauty of separating markup from content is that you can have it both ways. That's a great step forward, and you shouldn't scoff at it just because of your personal preference for that retro "1995" look. Turn off your images, turn off stylesheets, that lets you get the web that YOU want.

Content is content -- it's just a commodity. Design is about communication. Bad design communicates poorly. The fact is that content without good design can communicate just as poorly as content with bad design.
posted by dhartung at 6:46 AM on April 3, 2001


Note that it has nothing whatever to do with improving the web for users.

It's got everything to do with improving the web for users! As dhartung said, if you do follow the standards, people can have the web as they want it. Want it on a browser? Sure. Want it on a cell phone? Sure. Want it on a device that hasn't been invented yet? We're ready. So long as we stick to silly stuff like FONT tags and the ilk, and Netscape continues to bungle simple CSS, we're screwed.

OTOH there's nothing wrong with developing things on the web for aesthetic beauty. Embracing the standards such as CSS encourages pages that not only have great content, but also look damn good (depending on the designer :P) and are portable. I'm all for that.

I'm apalled that 4.77 exists at all. If you can't run NS6, try Opera. AOL is trying to squeeze blood from the turnip, but the turnip has been entirely dehydrated from sitting out in the sun for two friggin' years.
posted by hijinx at 6:55 AM on April 3, 2001


Gee... Separating content from design.

Sounds a lot like XML to me... which uses stylesheets... and wonder of wonders, that doesn't work either in NS4.x!!!

Has anyone ever thought that the design itself is part of the content? I know a lot of exquisitely designed sites that don't have much content, and yes, I don't go back there every day, but I do go back whenever the design changes to look at the new stuff.
posted by SpecialK at 7:17 AM on April 3, 2001


dhartung:

> jfuller, your view has been a minority one for years.
> Get over it.

Heh heh. As Lincoln said, one man plus the truth makes a majority.


> Content is content -- it's just a commodity.

Truly spoken like a "visual thinker." Pull out your dictionary. Commodity items are fungible -- that is, functionally indistinguishable like dollar bills or clone-brand PCs, such that you can substitute one of them for another without making a difference. Any dollar bill will buy what any other dollar bill will buy. Any bushel of soybeans is just like any other bushel of soybeans. Any new pc-clone will run Redhat. Fungible. Mutually replaceable without difference. Commodity.

Now then: if you really think content is a fungible commodity -- that is, if you really believe you can replace one site's content with any other site's content and it won't make any difference -- then I'd say your processor is stuck in powersave mode. I'll just charitably assume you didn't know what "commodity" means.


> Design is about communication. Bad design communicates
> poorly. The fact is that content without good design can
> communicate just as poorly as content with bad design.

By "communicate" you mean "get across the message the sender wants to send." The paradigm of this form of communications is salesman-to-sucker -- that is, cases where the recipient of the communication is basically offline and the sender must do something to open up the channel. That kind of communication is invasive and manipulative and all of us put a great deal of daily effort into jamming it.

The kind of communication that interests intelligent people is cases where the recipient opens the channel and slurps up the desired data -- very often data the sending party didn't intent to let loose, all the batteries-not-included gotchas. Any "design" effort you, the sender, expend to open a channel on your terms, emphasizing some of the things I might potentially learn from you while eliding or concealing other things, is just so much handwaving and of course it annoys me. Just lay out your content plainly and simply, please, and let me do the selecting. If you've got anything I want, I promise you can trust me to find it. If you don't have anything I want, I won't think well of you or your organization for trying to feed me Flash 7 over catshit in place of substance.


hijinx:

> As dhartung said, if you do follow the standards, people
> can have the web as they want it. Want it on a browser?
> Sure. Want it on a cell phone? Sure.

I find myself the opposite of impressed by this. It's not at all clear that 8 billion naked apes should have what they want, just because they want it. People want cheap Brazilian beef, and damn the rainforest. People want shoes with a swoosh, and damn the kids in Asian sweatshops. Millions of people want Budweiser, gag. Give people the web on a cell phone and they'll be at the Southpark site playing games when they should be watching the road and steering.


> there's nothing wrong with developing things on the web
> for aesthetic beauty.

Not available, and it has very little to do with browsers. A graphics guy's bandwidth is measured in square inches of display area even more than in bps, and as long as you're dealing with a display area the size of a toilet seat (and shrinking, viz. www on cellphones) you must resist the impulse to clutter it up with "design."


> So long as we stick to silly stuff like FONT tags and the
> ilk, and Netscape continues to bungle simple CSS, we're
> screwed.

That's, like, OK, y'know. I recall Heisenberg's principle of scientific progress (namely that mature scientists are never really convinced of anything new, and that scientific progress depends on the current generation of tenured professors dying off so that people exposed to new ideas at the outset of their careers can take over.) If the generation of designers that gave us the current visually-indistinguishable-from-Cosmo www wind up on the streets then maybe a new cohort with a cleaner and simpler visual sense can take over. Here's hoping, anyway
posted by jfuller at 8:49 AM on April 3, 2001


jfuller: I find myself the opposite of impressed by this.

Where you see the potential botches, I see the potential successes. Yes, I do agree that there are people who are going to want to design Flash interfaces for sites designed to run on Pocket PC; those people could potentially be run out of town on the proverbial rail. The information in a site can be one resource, yet I see no reason why the interface shouldn't adapt to where it's being used.

That said, there are purposes for the web on cell phones (Yellow Pages, etc.) - this opinion coming after I'd said, at some point, that the web on a phone was silly. I don't think that web designers should be held accountable, for instance, if someone pulls up a zany game site on a phone while driving... you should, you know, drive while you're driving.

...you must resist the impulse to clutter it up with "design."

Eh, thin ice here, because design can also apply to the presentation of information - in which case, you need a good design to present the information. But, since you're leaning towards pure aesthetics... there will be tons of sites devoted to WAP art. There are tons of sites devoted to web art. This shouldn't change; you simply don't have to visit those sites.

Integrating the two is tough. While it sounds like you lean more towards a Jakob camp of things, I like to take a middle ground... a site can be aesthetically pleasing, easy to use, and content-rich. These are currently the exceptions rather than the rules. With the advocation of standards, these sites can become more commonplace.

And, if you want to turn off the pretty pictures and stuff and get straight to the info you want, you can do that, too. I like that idea, and I wonder if you do, too.
posted by hijinx at 9:00 AM on April 3, 2001


Much as you may have a hard time with the concept, jfuller, every single page on the web has a style. Even a page of plain text. Somehow your browser has to know what font, what font size, what colors and what margins to use to display it. The only page without style is a minimised browser window.

Web developers want to be able to control that style reliably across different user clients and platforms, to have the peace of mind that comes from knowing whoever access the content will be able to see it in a way suited to how they are accessing it. With version 4 browsers, its a lottery. A lottery that makes the production of pages more technologically complex than it should be for their creator and adds significant development time (=lots of money) to the production of commercial sites.

If you don't like the "look and feel" of a site, don't you want to be able to blame the designer, rather than the technology?
posted by normy at 9:02 AM on April 3, 2001


titboy, it's been standard practice for quite a while now (since 4.x at least) for Netscape to release the new version without a changelog. They put out a changelog a few days after, but usually it only lists the few most important things changed.
posted by caveday at 9:02 AM on April 3, 2001


> Much as you may have a hard time with the concept,
> jfuller, every single page on the web has a style.

Of course every page has a style. That's true by definition, exactly as a Botticelli painting has form and a quadratic equation has form and a rock has form and tire tracks in the mud have form. But some things have designed, contrived form and other things have undesigned form.

Since you've brought up the kind of style all web pages have by definition, whether or not they were created by paid page designers, I take it you're saying that the existence of paid designers is not necessary to the existence of web-page style. Heh, heh. Fuller agrees! Fuller agrees!
posted by jfuller at 11:03 AM on April 3, 2001


As a lawyer (sorry!) I find it odd that AOL shouldn't be pursued for Antitrust violations the way Microsoft was. AOL controls a significant portion of the Web world in its subscriber base AND uses an anemic version of IE as its browser AND owns Netscape. Thus it has no incentive to take Netscape seriously. It's a very suspect concentration of technology/marketshare.

Also, why is IE for Mac so much better than IE for Windows? Just my opinion.
posted by ParisParamus at 11:16 AM on April 3, 2001


IE 5 for Mac is basically a different product from IE/Win; it doesn't share much (if any) code. It's got its own rendering engine (called Tasman) that's 99% there on HTML4+CSS1, but which can also render pages as if by a broken browser, for back-compatibility. It switches modes depending on whether or not a valid HTML4 DOCTYPE declaration is included. Plus it has funky customizable toolbars, 'text zoom' capabilities (increases/decreases the size of all text, even tiny CSS text) and other shiny bells and whistles. It's not perfect, but it's pretty danged good. (Mac Opera still kicks it in the groin, though.)
posted by darukaru at 11:55 AM on April 3, 2001


jfuller: Are you arguing that web standards would be a bad thing? Without standards, different devices and browsers could display the same 'content' in wildly different ways... In ways that the creator of the 'content' never imagined.

Now, can you please explain why you think standards would be bad? Other than a few thousand people having to upgrade their browsers? :)
posted by Neb at 12:03 PM on April 3, 2001


Darukaru, when you refer to an Opera browser for Mac, are you referring to the TP2 currently on their site or something else? And if so, where do I get it?
posted by ParisParamus at 12:11 PM on April 3, 2001


> ...it sounds like you lean more towards a Jakob
> camp of things...

For anyone who doesn't know Jakob Nielsen, here's the revised Top Ten Mistakes list. As regards writing pages that are broken if the users don't upgrade their browsers, note especially the following (under "Bleeding-edge technology"):

> If anything, users have less patience for bleeding-edge
> technology these days as the Web gets dominated by later
> adopters and the upgrade speeds for new browsers and
> plug-ins slow down. Users who encounter as much as a
> single JavaScript error usually leave a site immediately.
> It's just not worth the time to figure out how to make
> something work when there are 5 million other sites to go
> to.
posted by jfuller at 12:15 PM on April 3, 2001


The TP2, ParisParamus. Even in beta it's pretty keen. (Ok, so I'm not using it as my everyday browser yet. It's still good.)
posted by darukaru at 12:32 PM on April 3, 2001


Opera 5 has become my primary browser on Windows. I got over the weirdness and retrained my keyboard shortcuts to maintain my browser habits. It works with nearly every site I visit - sometimes I change the browser ID string to work with browser sniffer scripts - I always change it back to spread awareness of alternate browsers.

I'm of the opinion that most if not all Netscape 4.x users should upgrade to Opera 5 if they don't have the system resources for Mozilla and the mind to deal with Microsoft. I'm also of the opinion that many of the IE users should take a look, they might be very pleasantly surprised if they can get used to it.

Note I'm using it on a PC so Mac/Linux users may have a different experience.
posted by mutagen at 12:38 PM on April 3, 2001


When I read "Opera" I think not of music, but this kind of French ice cream cake--yummy. Sorry for that detour.
posted by ParisParamus at 12:48 PM on April 3, 2001


jfuller, you seem to have an objection not only to improvements in web technology that have the potential to improve accessibility, promote reliable presentation and make building and maintaining sites easier for more people, but also to people being paid to develop and use that technology.

Have I misunderstood something?

As for Mr Neilson, I think that a lot of what he says, in general terms, makes general sense for a lot of sites. What bugs me immeasurably, however, is his remarkably polarised attitude to web design. He presents his opinions as stringent rules and, critically, never contextualises. A naive reading of his articles suggests that there is one and only one way to develop a site, regardless of its intended purpose or audience. Any deviation is a 'Mistake'.

Yet any application of his advice can only be validated in the context of an individual site's goals and audience. A notion that he rarely, if ever, discusses or promotes.
posted by normy at 1:01 PM on April 3, 2001


Mr. Neilson said: Users who encounter as much as a single JavaScript error usually leave a site immediately.

Most javascript errors I've encountered have resulted from scripts not being written to work in multiple browsers. The different renderings of Javascript in different browsers is yet another why web standards would be a good thing?
posted by Neb at 1:35 PM on April 3, 2001


Using it for the first time this afternoon, Opera for Windows is better than IE for Windows, but not IE for Mac (from a non-technical perspective).

Any thoughts on the idea that IE for Mac is Microsoft's way of preempting Apple from doing their own browser? Seems like an Apple's priorities would inspire a killer Browser.
posted by ParisParamus at 2:06 PM on April 3, 2001


> can you please explain why you think standards would be
> bad? Other than a few thousand people having to upgrade
> their browsers? :)

Standards do their job only if they're widely adopted. Zillions of standards in all areas of engineering have been dreamed up and then forgotten because nobody adopted them. In the present case your adoption problem is twofold: A) get the browser writers to support the standards and B) then get large numbers of the folks out in userland to install the new browsers.

A) may happen but as for B) I hope you're not holding your breath. Non-geeks (the vast majority) use the browsers that came preinstalled on their systems. Therefore the browser replacement rate is not going to be much higher than the rate of retirement of old machines and the purchase of new ones. It's not that I'm against standards per se, it's that you don't have new standards here, you merely have proposed new standards that are only spottily adopted by the eyeballs that count. No matter how many technical committees have signed off on them, they're only proposed standards until userland is using them. If your pages target these proposed standards you're just writing broken pages. Of course, that's your choice...

It's also worth noting (if you really do want to write pages that display the same for everybody who views them) that standards are inherently perishable. I grant you that proprietary extensions of browser rendering abilities are a crock but if you hope that standards are the answer let me warn you that as soon as you get XML and CSS-1 and HTML 4.01 people will want to start patching them (give me XSLT, give me XPath) and then a whole new bunch of people will come along who'll bitch that Netscape 6 and IE5.5 don't properly support Extended XML or CSS-3 or HTML-Turbo.

There's a wonderful (and famous) book called The Visual Display of Quantitative Information, by Edward Tufte, which I mention because of Tufte's useful concept of "chartjunk." If you really want your pages to render the same for everybody, the best answer is to get rid of the webjunk. Don't use all those different fonts and point sizes and colors, they're ugly and distracting and bad. Don't use shockwave or embedded midi or realaudio or popup windows or frames or animations, they're webjunk and they're bad. Keep it simple and it will render.

Incidentally, as a geek of long standing I'm not infrequently asked to help folks (or their parents) do stuff like set up new systems, install software, etc. When I'm asked to install a browser I guarantee you I leave both Java and Javascript turned off and cookies disabled. If that breaks your site I don't care.
posted by jfuller at 2:24 PM on April 3, 2001


Seems like an Apple's priorities would inspire a killer Browser.

Apple had their own browser at one point, and a certain number of people are still partial to it. I never did care for it myself, though, because it wasn't even as good as the Netscape of its day at rendering pages, and it was dog-slow. (A pun, since the product's name was CyberDog.) It was based on OpenDoc, a technical disaster which Steve Jobs mercifully shot in the head soon after his return to power.
posted by kindall at 2:30 PM on April 3, 2001


Contextualising. That's what I wanted to point out, halfway through the middle of this thread. I'm vexed by jfuller's point of view here: it rather presupposes the idea that everyone everywhere should have exactly the same ideological and perceptual spectra...with their minds configured to the exact same values. Some brains are going to get more out of looking at a neat-o design and some are going to find that completely uninteresting.

Should every website, regardless of its purpose and its intended audience, be only minimally visually oriented, just because some sort of "golden age of wireless" exists (or is "right around the corner"?) Or because it's easier for browsers to render them all if they're "Optimized for Dullness"?

In essence, it seems the "standards" jfuller is talking about aren't browser standards at all, but rather some sort of aesthetic standards that don't exist, and shouldn't.
We're not all cardboard cookie-cutter people who'd want cardboard cookie-cutter websites, giving us the same sort of pages in front of our faces whether we'd logged onto the web to look for a job, meet friends, buy mail-order catalogue products, entertain ourselves with witty, humorous verbiage, or trip out our brains with complex artworks and animated spectacles.

Or - and I'd surmise this is a rather common pastime - to just run around linkhopping and globetrotting...looking at the webbifications of the lives of random persons in parts of the world other than those we ourselves live in. I mean that in both the literal sense involving geographical borders, and the figurative one, involving borders of age, class, general interests, affiliations and opinions.

Where else but on the Web could I - a 35 y/o unemployed, overweight female San Francisco hallucinographer get such revealing views of: (A) - the day to day life of a twentysomething "information architect" from a Tokyo/New York corporation (B) a teenage girl from France who's a prodigy Javascripter and techno-performance artist, of sorts (C) a Latino elementary-school kid who lives about two blocks away from me, but who'd likely be too smart not to avoid talking to someone like me on the street...or (D) another spaced-out thirtysomething digital artist/acid casualty so much like myself it's spooky, who lives on the other side of the globe - and who has wanted to communicate with someone like me forever, but never could before?

If all these people had web pages that essentially LOOKED the same, and followed the same structural rules, do you think I'd get as rich an experience of opening my mind to the differences between people, while also getting the right signals to flock to birds of my own special blindingly-iridescent feather? I doubt it.

Design has purpose: it is not the entirety of content, but neither is it wholly separate from it and thus extraneous. Ideally Content and Design can exist in a happy marriage, in which neither tries to subjugate the other.

I'm willing to be patient and deal with the inadequacies of browsers: though I'd like a perfect one as much as the next guy or girl, what I don't want is a "perfect" flaw-free Web.
posted by monde at 2:39 PM on April 3, 2001


Titboy, the README (or one of them, anyway) points to a release notes page that doesn't exist. It might show up soon enough, but from looking at the previous release notes, there won't be much info.
posted by whatnotever at 2:39 PM on April 3, 2001


Assuming the Microsoft case isn't dead, why not give IE for Mac to Apple as part of the case's remedy? This may seem unfair, except when one considers that some sizable counterweight to Microsoft is necessary for the market to have any chance to be corrected.

I would be curious how much (aesthetic) design input (i.e., how much of a joint venture) Apple provides to IE for Mac.
posted by ParisParamus at 2:52 PM on April 3, 2001


> Have I misunderstood something?

Only partly, perhaps. If you can suck somebody into paying you to build a site for them then more power to you. On the other hand, if I ever find the button that will nuke the entire .com domain you can count on me to push it. Oh, y'know, that ad-killer proxy server I just started using may be the very button I've been looking for.

> Yet any application of his advice can only be validated
> in the context of an individual site's goals and audience.
> A notion that he rarely, if ever, discusses or promotes.

Nope, I don't believe in situation ethics. Viewing webjunk is like jerking off, fundamentally damaging to the character, rots your teeth and grows green hair on your palms. If a bunch of webjunk happens to fit a certain site's goals and audience then it's an evil site put up by evil people to attract degenerates. Lightning bolt, please.

> He presents his opinions as stringent rules and,
> critically, never contextualises.

You vant context? Here's context (though I fear he isn't adequately anti-flash.) Just before I vaporize all the dotcoms (the ones that haven't already imploded on their own, that is) I'll let Webpagesthatsuck move over to the .us domain.
posted by jfuller at 2:58 PM on April 3, 2001


adfsdjk jajdf jlaksdfj jfuller laksdjf lka lkjasdj fjlkasfd you lk;asjd flksajdf lksadj are lkjasfd kjlasdf jlksadf l jadsklfj fdjklj welcome lkj;sakdf alskdjf lkjsadfj to lkjasdf ja slkdfj ajkljfaklsdhkjashdf pick a jfdslkjalfd jasd out f ajdklf jdakfljfd lkad fjklasjfd lkasdj whatever flksa fsadjklfjaslkdf adsf lkjsadf content alkdsf ajdsfl lkjfds from akjfdsjasdklfj lkjfdalkdfjasljfksad fjklasdjf lkasdf this aljdsf jdsalfjaslkdfj jdfla morass fasdjklfjasdlkfjasldkfjalsd fadsf asdfjjdfjkdj that a;sdfkasdlkfja asdfjasdflkasd a you fdjjkfdjf a;kdaslkasd jkfdjasjajkflaa like ajdksfjkasdf asdjjfdkasj fads as fjla and fasdf ads fasdf asldf pat a a dfaslfjkasldkf asf asldf yourself las dflasd flkasj lsa on dflkasldk flkasfd lkas dfjlkasjd the flkasj flkj alkjdsf alkjsf back lkjasd fjlkasdj flasj for flkjalskfd jalkjsfdjalsj flkjsalkjf aflkjaslkjfjalksf jlk doing ;as fjlkajslkfajsljf so ljkasdjf ljaksf.

Plus, if you think I'm an "overly visual" Flash developer, just because I believe that design and presentation have a place (what the hell is the "M" in HTML for, anyway?), you're smoking your own particularly weird form of crack.
posted by dhartung at 3:24 PM on April 3, 2001


Ummm, jfuller, metafilter is a 'dotcom' (by your definition, as it belongs to the .com domain)... I think you'd get a ton of hateful email if you tried nuking it. :)
posted by Neb at 3:35 PM on April 3, 2001


A random sampling from the source of this very page:
<script type="text/javascript" src="http://www.metafilter.com/scripts/form_shortcuts_ie.js">
<script type="text/javascript" language="javascript" src=http://www.metafilter.com/spch.js>
also: <style>[...a big style sheet I'll spare you...]</style>

If your pages target these proposed standards you're just writing broken pages.

Viewing webjunk is like jerking off.

Apologies to mathowie

posted by normy at 3:52 PM on April 3, 2001


This applies as much today as it ever did...and then read my thing.

HTML and CSS are a better way of deciding layout and fonts but images and many other page elements are unremovable and are themselves much of the layout. Any abstraction is an excellent goal and CSS is a step in the right direction (there are better style sheets ideas though).

For some reason telling every single person to upgrade their browser sounds plausible (well, to most people). Yet telling every single person to install some patch for the latest hole in MS Outlook doesn't.

> Viewing webjunk is like jerking off.

ALA/WaSP's authors became programmers admiring their lushous indentation curves and beating off as their page complies. The most usable webpage will always be a smart mishmash of official and unofficial standards.
posted by holloway at 4:24 PM on April 3, 2001


dhartung:

> adfsdjk jajdf jlaksdfj jfuller laksdjf lka lkjasdj

Copy text block, paste into comment editor, hit spellcheck, words and non-words clearly differentiated, two seconds. I said you could trust me to find what I'm looking for. You don't have to make any extraordinary effort to help communication occur.


normy:

> <style>[...a big style sheet I'll spare you...]</style>

Say, I'm reading and posting in Netscape 4.7. Wasn't the initial KILL IT ALREADY link to alistapart moaning that 4.x level browsers should die because thay don't, um, render style sheets right? Looks like somebody knows how to do it, eh? If others don't, could the problem be with the coders and not the browsers? Just asking.


holloway:

> ALA/WaSP's authors became programmers admiring their
> lushous indentation curves and beating off as their page
> complies. The most usable webpage will always be a
> smart mishmash of official and unofficial standards.

Heh. Fuller tips hat!


I'm going to dinner now, see y'all another day. What Phrenzy Hath of Late Posses'd the Brain! Though Few can Write, yet Fewer can Refrain.
posted by jfuller at 4:55 PM on April 3, 2001


Among Edward Tufte's six books, Envisioning Information, which Tufte wrote, designed, and published, has won ten prizes for design and content.

Says the man you quoted, "Write and design together -- even down to the level of where hyphens should go."

jfuller, make sure you bomb Tufte while your at it.

I'm off to look at porn and rot my teeth!
posted by Mick at 8:15 PM on April 3, 2001


I would be curious how much (aesthetic) design input (i.e., how much of a joint venture) Apple provides to IE for Mac.

It's my understanding that Apple officially provides little to none of the direction for Mac Internet Explorer, although the team that develops it is in Microsoft's San Francisco outpost, far closer to Apple than to the Mothership, so I wouldn't be surprised if there was a good amount of unofficial cross-pollination.

If I remember correctly, the appearance for Mac IE was largely designed by a UK firm, which Microsoft turned to because they wanted far more than an incremental improvement to their product's UI, and the Mac developers happened to like this outfit's work.
posted by kindall at 11:41 PM on April 3, 2001


I'm off to look at porn and rot my teeth!

Geez. I thought that just caused blindness!
posted by kindall at 1:53 AM on April 4, 2001


I'm sorry, I'm coming into this pretty late and all the good stuff's been hashed out, but it seems to me, jfuller, as though you're working under an assumption that isn't true.

This quote pretty much sums up the problem we're having get our message across, I think.

(if you really do want to write pages that display the same for everybody who views them)

See, that's not what standards are about. The standards those of us who are behind (uh, philisophically I mean, I don't have anything to do - other than the standard slobbering fanboy thing - with the WaSP :-) the WaSP's Upgrade mission (hereafter referred to as "we", not to be exclusionary but because it's just so much easier to type)

umm... I lost myself in parantheticals. God I need an editor.

Anyway, what we're aiming for is the ability to create something and have that content available to anybody. There are people out there who like jerking off to a sweet-ass visual image, and there are people out there who like beating off to black Times New Roman (or whatever your default font is, mine's Arial actually) on a white background.

Either way, pretty much all of us who are creating content (the value of said content is certainly up for debate) want that content seen by as many eyeballs as possible, especially the important ones (by your definition).

I've got a nice little layout on my site (and it took me so long I was ejaculating spinal fluid I was so damn pleased with it) but if a NN4.x (or any < 5.0 browser user, really, especially lynx using folk) user visited my site they wouldn't be able to make out the navel-gazing mental ejaculate I write.

Since I'm looking for those eyeballs, I use a method of implementing those standards that allows older browsers to see the words - I don't load my stylesheet if they can't handle it.

It's about making our content accessible to as many people as possible. Weblogs are about the hits, remember? :-)

By following these standards it's a fairly trivial process to let people look at a site the way they want. By having a message like "You're viewing this site in a browser that doesn't support standards. Here's why upgradingwould be nifty" then those poor li'l users you're so concerned about being confused get the chance to learn a little something about the web, and they then get to make an educated choice.

Users already have the choice, they just don't know it. We'd like to see them aware of it.
posted by cCranium at 6:41 AM on April 4, 2001


« Older Government GPS surveillance through your digital...   |   What the Pentagon has lost Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments



Post