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  1. #1
    SitePoint Enthusiast
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    Supporting legacy browsers

    I was curious to get some input on how developers are treating legacy browsers. I refer to browsers such as IE4, NS4.x, Opera 4/5 etc. I am including Opera because ver 6+ has much better CSS and Javascript support. I am to a point where I want to design w/o regard to legacy browsers as NS6+, IE5+, Mozilla, etc have been around awhile and maybe it is time to force or nudge users to upgrade when they are limited by obsolete software.

  2. #2
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    Re: Supporting legacy browsers

    The problem with browsers in general is that they are continually changing and evolving. As my site deals with old computers, I decided to try to make it work with as many browsers as possible and to download very quickly. This has lead to a site that is perhaps not as attractive as I would like. I am considering using different pages optimized for different browsers which will be more work but is the only way I can see of covering all the bases. Hope this helps.

    Nick
    All4YourPC for all your PC needs. Custom software.
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    http://members.aol.com/nickjc67

  3. #3
    Sidewalking anode's Avatar
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    Have you heard of WaSP's "Browser Upgrade Campaign"? It is/was pretty much what you're proposing.

    My take on it is this: people using non-standards compliant browsers are used to things displaying wrong. How do I know? I use OmniWeb 4.1 as my main browser almost exclusively for a variety of reasons. When a site isn't displaying properly, it's not a huge deal; however, when a site sniffs my browser and tries to give me upgrade propaganda, or worse yet denies access and tells me to get a "modern browser" it leaves a bad taste in my mouth.

    Most people using non-standards browsers are not going to switch to view your web page or anyone else's for that matter. They're using them either for a particular reason(mine is that I like certain features of OmniWeb that other browsers lack) or are stuck with Netscape 4.x because of outdated hardware.

    With that said, my advice either pretend non-standards browsers don't exist, code for standards and let the chips fall where they may or use the @import trick and CSS layouts to present your design fully to standards browsers and give a downgraded display to the rest. Your code will be better and cleaner(no need to sniff) and at worst, you'll somewhat alienate 3% of your potential audience.

  4. #4
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    I would never force a user via popups or any other method to download software just to view my site. I was more in line with subtle hints on the pages to alert the viewer that their surfing experience can be enhanced by upgrading browsers. Let's be realistic here and crunch some stats. Depending on sources, from 70 to over 90% of viewers are using IE4+ browsers, NS4+ accounts for 2 to 5% of browsers and Opera and other minor browsers accounting for the rest. Let's also assume that the largest percentage of viewers are not involved in web development, meaning they are not as likely to have multiple browsers, only the default browser that came with their system. Stats indicate this by the high number of IE5 browsers, most likely using Win98, Me OS. Even these are considered out-dated by the current XP and Mac and Linux OS. My conclusion is this: Viewers using legacy or minimal enhanced browsers have old systems and do not have the savvy to investigate or interest in the latest technologies (I will discount the premise here of including users that for financial reasons do not upgrade because they would not likely be purchasing targets for web retailers or services) or the viewer is web savvy and prefers to use a non-standard or legacy browser. Specifically the somewhat arrogant reason to stick it to Microsoft and NOT use any of their products. Like it or not, IE5+ is still the fastest and most flexible browser even though I use Phoenix myself as the Mozilla builds pretty much have caught up in terms of reliability and speed, not to mention better features. My choice is to design to current standards and make the site as backwards compatible as the theme/coding allows or appease the small percentage of users that purposely use non-standard browsers and compromise the creative aspect of the design. We haven't even considered the accessibility issues involved here which are IMO, are more important. I have incorporated a PHP scripplet in my main index to detect user agent. IE4+, NS6+, Mozilla/5 and Opera 6+ browsers will see the page as I intended. Other browsers will see a minimal formatted page without any DHTML etc., therefore covering all browsers and not leaving any viewer to stare at a broken up or inaccessible page.
    Last edited by mtjo; Jan 4, 2003 at 09:35.

  5. #5
    ☆★☆★ silver trophy vgarcia's Avatar
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    For personal and freelance projects I still ensure that the content is accessible to any browser (that means checking my site in Lynx and even handhelds!), and even with some basic styles (in the case of Netscape 4, which can change fonts but doesn't know how to position a <div>). Then I use the CSS @import statement to give better browsers like IE5 and Mozilla better formatting. I always ensure that everyone gets at least the text and links, but the users of newer browsers get some more advanced treats.

    By the way, IE is not necessarily the fastest browser. I've found Mozilla to be just as fast on OSX, and Opera's pretty quick on all platforms!

    --Vinnie

  6. #6
    long gone but not forgotten AljapaCo's Avatar
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    Well this is an issue that never cease to amuse....

    If some people would had a say, there wouldn't be colour TV because their TV's doesn't support that

    Nowadays, I code for MSIE, NN6+7 and Opera6....
    If the client realllly wan't NN4 compability, they can pay more and get that too! Surprisingly enough, not one client has demanded this since I struck NN4 series from my list!

    T.
    T O B I A S - S T R A N D H | visit my site here
    OPERA7 /MSIE6 /FireFox 1.1/Win2000 /ADSL /17" Screen /1024x768
    god doesn't create genius, he clones me.............


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