the nightmare of netscape

once upon a time, in 1999, i used to toss and turn at night trying to work out how to make my web pages look the same in netscape 4 as they did in internet explorer. nowadays, while i now sweat over producing valid code and still sweat over screen resolution, i allow myself to forget that netscape 4 ever existed.

until the other day that is, when somebody viewing a test web page of mine in the DIT (Dublin Institute of Technology) seemed to be seeing something very strange indeed. i feared the worst and i was right. netscrape is alive and well! while i was aware that netscape 4 was still used in some academic institutions, i was picturing a few clapped out pcs that nobody used in dusty libraries!

yet out of sight is out of mind, and i consoled myself that since it’s years since netscape 4 was out, i could never find a copy on the net. and even if i could, i’m sure windows xp would not be happy about it. well, guess what? i was wrong for a change 🙂 the kind volunteers at evolt maintain an archive of every browser under the sun, old and new, including a huge selection of netscape versions. in addition, it’s early days but it seems to run fine on windows xp.

what does not get along quite so well with netscape 4 however is every web page i’ve ever made! things looked a bit off in the old days, when i used lots of tables and no stylesheets. but i was not prepared for just how ugly a page of valid xhtml and css could look!! i decided not to take screenshots and display them here as some web dev monkeys are of a sensitive disposition!

still, at least you could technically read all the content on most of the sites using netscape 4, just about! so i suppose it could be worse! still, my initial reaction was that i would have to start making my pages look ok in netscape 4. however, i’ve decided it’s not worth throwing away the web standards handbook and common sense for the sake of a few poor souls who are stuck in a time warp, even if not by their choosing. i’m prepared to edit some of my css styles so that all text will be legible in netscape 4 but that’s as far as it goes! according to browser news, only between .35% and 1.4% are still using it anyway. although, that figure is higher than i expected. it just goes to show there are some crazy people out there 🙂