Note:The browser wars are over. With the promulgation of the draft for HTML 3.2, Netscape and Microsoft have won. This page remains here mainly for historical interest.
--Ralph Brandi


Now Dehanced for Microsoft Internet Explorer, Too!

Yeah, right, my home page is Netscape Enhanced alright. Nuh-uh. I'm trying to avoid use of Netscape-specific tags, with the exception of one deeply ironic use of the <BLINK> tag and the use of a 14-point rule at the top of my page to lull you into a false sense of security. (This page notwithstanding, of course.)

You really wanted to find out about why Netscape is so wonderful?

It's Blinking not!

Netscape is the source of all evil in the HTML omniverse. Well, maybe that's stretching things a bit, but they certainly seem to have missed the point somewhere.

The point of HTML, and of SGML, the standard from which HTML is derived, is to eliminate dependence on a given platform to view electronic documents by marking said documents up on the basis of their content and letting the display software control the layout based on its limitations and capabilities. The result is documents that can be displayed and comprehended on anything from a 2400 baud vt100 connection with a shell account to a DEC Alpha running X Windows and a fully graphical browser with a direct T1 connection to the Internet.

Perhaps more importantly, marking up by content produces intelligent documents, documents that can be searched by computers with the knowledge that, for example, a reference to the item for which you are searching that appears in a first-level heading is likely to be more important than one that appears simply within a paragraph, and should therefore be given more weight when listing the results.

Granted, the HTML 1.0 and 2.0 specifications are in many ways inadequate. In my day job, we rejected using HTML to deliver online documentation because too many elements were missing at the time, such as tables. But the spec is being revised and extended to address such shortcomings, and in a way that doesn't conflict, in general with HTML's mission to provide device-independent, intelligent markup of documents.

Netscape's enhancements, while they deal with an often-stated complaint regarding lack of control over document formatting, prescribe a solution that is worse than the complaint, that is, creating tags that, at worst, require the use of one particular browser to use, or at best, raise the bar of the level of net access required beyond that which is practical. People who have shell accounts and access to a browser like lynx may need access to the information contained in your documents just as much as the person with a SPARCStation 10 on a local Ethernet. This may be desirable from the perspective of the stockholders of a particular company, such as Netscape, who want you to purchase their browser, but runs counter to the spirit of open standards upon which the net is built.

Netscape claims to support open standards, and I have no reason to doubt their sincerity. And I don't mean to denigrate the quality of their achievments; Netscape Navigator is a fine browser, and when they come up with a version that stops freezing my PowerMac, I'll be happy to use it all the time. But so many of the tags they have unilaterally created pollute the intent of HTML's device independence by marking documents up for appearance rather than content.

This is a Bad Thing.

It should not be supported.

It trades current expedience for future gain from intelligence-enhanced documents. Use of Netscape-specific enhancements is a short-sighted strategy for dealing with the shortcomings of HTML.

Ralph Brandi,

Pretty damned unreadable (if you're using Netscape 1.1, anyway), ain't it?

Credit: the NØTSCAPE Certified icon comes from a source unknown. I found it at Liza's House of Erotic Massage, after a reference from the Netscape Enhanced Hall of Shame, but Liza tells me that it's not original with her. The <ban> Netscrape </ban> GIF, on the other hand, is (Thanks, Liza!) The "N", of course, comes from Navigator's icon.