Preparing Your Site for Navigator 5.0

Wednesday November 24th, 1999

Shelley Powers of has written an informative article on preparing your DHTML website for compatibility with Navigator 5.0 and the DOM standard. This one is definitely worth the read if you're interested in working to the DOM spec, but would like to keep a measure of backwards compatibility with older browsers.

#1 Rock on

by Kovu

Wednesday November 24th, 1999 8:02 AM

It is way cool to see articles of this nature start to appear. I like that DHTML "normalization." It's a well-deserved slap in the face for 4.x browsers (including IE5). Soon Netscape will start printing articles like this at DevEdge, hopefully.

#2 yet another standard

by jilles

Wednesday November 24th, 1999 8:58 AM

This article confirms what I have long suspected. Rather than ending the standards war, mozilla just adds a standard. Sure it is a w3c supported standard but that doesn't help. In order to maintain cross browser compatibility you now have to support another standard. That is, you are supposed to restrict yourself to what is supported in most browsers and handle the browser specific part via scripting.

The fact that most ie 5 documents work in mozilla unmodified (according to the article) is not in favor of doing everything cleanly.

Conclusion, mozilla supports and promotes the use of the new standards but until all browsers support these standards the only real standard (that what people use) remains html 3.2 (works in most browsers).

If you want DHTML you'll have to use scripting to resolve compatibility errors.

I hope ie will one day support the standards in the way mozilla does but something tells me that the most efficient way to kill mozilla is not supporting the standards. IE, like it or not, has a bigger marketshare and can set the standard. The success of mozilla will depend on whether it renders sites written for IE correctly, not the other way around.

#3 That's not the case at all

by mozineAdmin

Wednesday November 24th, 1999 9:03 AM

Mozilla will not support the "non-standard" functions of Netscape and IE. The things that were never "standardized" by the w3c.

You are conflating codified standards and de-facto standards. There is a big difference.

#4 Wrong

by asa

Wednesday November 24th, 1999 10:24 AM

Taking your logic a step further, if a browser with 51% market share is the defacto standard then all pages should be written for that browser but if in the next month a different browser has 51% market share then we should throw out all the old pages and code for the new browser and if the in the following month the majority returns to the first browser or even a third browser then we should throw out all the old pages again and write for the latest browser. This is what the lanscape looked like a year ago and web developers voiced an opinion, loud and clear, that it was costing too much time and money to work under that system. You would advocate returning to that mess?

#6 Wrong

by Tanyel

Wednesday November 24th, 1999 12:12 PM

Well the percentage is a little bigger than 51%... I think Mozilla should be able to handle the Microsoft trash as well as the w3c trash if it is to be the ultimate browser its being hyped up to be.

#8 the point is...

by asa

Wednesday November 24th, 1999 1:37 PM

reguardless of specific market share, supporting non-standard 'trash' will only encourage it's use.

#9 exactly!

by stoecker

Wednesday November 24th, 1999 2:14 PM

i even can't understand why anyone would leave NS/MOZ-users out in the dark because of only supporting IE?!? When IE only had 10% marketshare every customer (we work in webdesign business) requested that it was also viewable in IE. So that will be requested with Mozilla, too!

Besides, the average-IE-lamer spends less time *and* money (buzzword: ecommerce) on the web (mainly because IE has about 100% marketshare in the low-end consumer business) - NS/MOZ-users are therefore much more important now and in the future.

Also, the high marketshare of IE is based on AOL using IE in it's app. That will likely change in the next 6 to 10 months. Why use a component-only product when you have a faster, smaller and more stable product *in source* in you company-/product-portfolio??

Hopefully... :))

#28 Preparing Your Site for Navigator 5.0

by Anon

Saturday November 27th, 1999 10:54 PM

This is not in any way meant to start a discussion or argument about the State of Israel, but back in the days before it's creation, Ben Gurion had a phrase "Facts on the Ground" meaning that what ever the UN (the standards setters) declared it would be the "facts of the ground" that win the day. Over the years the charge has been raised that Israel violated International law, but that was meaningless if no one was going to enforce international law. Same goes for www standards. There are 100 million internet users in the United States alone now, and I'll venture to bet that the vast majority of them have never heard of W3C, but they very well might notice if their browser does or doesn't look right. I'll bet W3C standards are meaningless to the vast majotity of AOL users and they make up a very sizable population of internat users. The point is one can rant all they want about how there is only one set of legitimate standards, if those standards can not be enforced and most people don't care, how meaningful are those standards?

#20 Sorry...

by Anon

Thursday November 25th, 1999 7:44 AM

The idea here is not to support trash. Let's not be Clinton-esque about this, shall we? (Support of whatever's popular, standards be dam*ed! That creates the fragmentation that us web designers loathe.) And about ending the standards war...only the W3C sets standards; the other so-called standards are habits.

Guys...let's think clearly about this, ok?

#10 what another standard?

by ryanm32712

Wednesday November 24th, 1999 2:30 PM

There shoudn't be another standard. The W3C creates the standard and all deviations from that standard shoud be considered a bug. Most web developers support the W3C standard anyway. Why wouldn't a company want to support as many people as possible? A standard lets people do that.

#5 Preparing Your Site for Navigator 5.0

by thelem

Wednesday November 24th, 1999 11:27 AM

Supporting the standards is the right way to go. If somebody cannot make the small changes needed for a page to work in IE and Mozilla/Netscape 5 then it is their fault and will look bad on the website, not the web browser. After, Mozilla will render most pages perfectly. It could create a small problem with browsers thinking it is Netscape 4+, when really standards-wise it is more IE4+ (or IE7+), but again that is a small problem that sensible webmasters will be only too happy to work around. Netscape 4 has a 25%-40% market share, too large to ignore.

If Netscape get the marketing right, and Mozilla get back onto ISP CDs (esp. AOL+Compuserve) and onto Set-top boxes with Linux, then Netscape being the dominant broser again could be a reality. Unfortunatly I don't have that much faith in Netscape's marketing, or M$'s business practises.

#7 Preparing Your Site for Navigator 5.0

by Tanyel

Wednesday November 24th, 1999 12:20 PM

Well the way I see it, Netscape isn't doing the marketing anymore. America Online is doing the marketing, and they are every bit as shady as Microsoft so this time it will be more interesting. <attack style="ruthless" necessary="false">Personally I think I could market Apple IIc software better than Netscape marketed their browser so far.</attack> AOL got people to pay for their stuff while it was worthless trash. Surely they could get people to accept something that is actually good, and has no price tag.

#11 Do I smell a converter program on the horizon ?

by Anon

Wednesday November 24th, 1999 3:39 PM

Interesting article, but manually converting all your LAYER tags to DIV equivalents (and other such tag conversions) is tedious - I wonder if anyone is working on a Netscape 4.X -> Netscape 5.X converter program to ease the task ? Now that would be a boon to Webmasters everywhere...

#19 Do I smell a converter program on the horizon ?

by RvR

Thursday November 25th, 1999 4:53 AM

good idea, indeed... anyway if none exists, you can fallback on {sed, awk, emacs} on Unix, maybe Viusal Basic on Win, the "regexp" feature of BBEdit on Mac. there are certainly many solutions to convert this type of text automatically. just my 0.02 E (insert euro symbol here)

#12 Preparing Your Site for Navigator 5.0

by zontar

Wednesday November 24th, 1999 6:30 PM

I'm in a discussion group of authors and others involved in preparing a new book on DHTML for a major publisher (I've been one of those lobbying for more coverage of Netscape 5.0/Mozilla/W3C DOM.) I've forwarded this article to the group.

Thanks for the link!


#13 I can't see AOL using Mozilla ...

by danielhill

Wednesday November 24th, 1999 7:55 PM

Look at AOL 5.0 (I used a friend's computer, not mine :). Is it a great leap forward? Nope, except for using IE 5.0.

If AOL really cares about Netscape, they would have delayed AOL 5.0 until NGLayout was ready, and used that instead of IE.

AOL can terminate their agreement with MS at any time now, but they won't until 2001, according to some article.

And Steve Case, AOL CEO, virtually _defends_ Microsoft by saying Government intervention in the computer and Internet industry is bad!!!! (see )

So those who think AOL will save Netscape, pull your head out of your arse. Netscape is doomed. Mozilla is NOT.


#14 ... and read this as well

by danielhill

Wednesday November 24th, 1999 8:01 PM

NO PLANS to switch to Netscape. Bye Bye Netscape.

#23 No switch to Netscape?

by thelem

Thursday November 25th, 1999 4:22 PM

That article you referanced is on CNET, not one of the most reliable sources of information. Still, assuming everything is correct you do not seem to be able to read WHY AOL are not willing to use Netscape 5. Not for technological reasons, but because of their bundling deal. Now it may be just me, but I am sure I heard about a little trial, DOJ v MS I think, that was focused on exactly these practises. I mean who would ever CHOOSE to bundle a competitors problem instead of their own?

#26 No switch to Netscape?

by Luddite

Friday November 26th, 1999 5:47 PM

" I mean who would ever CHOOSE to bundle a competitors problem instead of their own?"

It happens in business. Believe it or not, the best product does not always win. In fact, if it is innovative it is almost guaranteed to lose to the next product that has superior marketing.

In any event, the trial started long before AOL bought Netscape. It is in AOL's best interests to keep IE as the basis of AOL's browser. They have too much to gain by the marketing deal with MS. AOL didn't buy Netscape for the browser or software, they bought it for Netcenter. I don't think AOL gives a rat's behind about Netscape's browser.

If you want an example of a company using a competitor's products over their own, look at Motorola and their move to NT despite the fact they manufacture the chips made in Macs.

Business cares about the best short term gain, not on the best product or long term possibilities.

#16 I can't see AOL using Mozilla ...

by Tekhir

Wednesday November 24th, 1999 10:52 PM

The problem with not releasing new versions of programs every few months is that it start to look old. This is why there is a Netscape 4.7. cmpanies have to keep at least the illusion that they are working on their products to keep and get new customers.

If Mozilla turns out to be really modullar then maybe Aol 5.5 will use it. The point is AOL doesn't really need to use it for Mozilla to win. Enough devices and non-windows OSes will have it for it to be popular.

#15 Netscape 5: Doomed!

by Anon

Wednesday November 24th, 1999 9:52 PM

I'm a fervent Netscape supporter. I only use Netscape to browse the internet. With this said, the idea of Mozilla's new standard being forced to the WWW is ludicrous. IE rules the web. As a web designer, I can't imagine Microsoft or vast number of web creators making alterations to their sites just to please the few folks that'll be using NS 5.

I've come across soooo many sites that don't even work with Netscape 4.X, how do you guys expect these 'IE' folks to make changes to their sites just to accomodate the 'better' browser? Currently, IE parses any type of HTML. IE can parse a page without closing body and HTML tags. IE can parse a page without information in Div tags. IE parses HTML in a very mysterious way. Really bad HTML coding is no problem for IE. IE is creating a whole new generation of web designers who preview their work only in IE and don't realize their sites don't work at all in Netscape 4.X. I've had hours of discussions about this and it always ends up with the IE guy saying "Well, who cares if it's good or bad HTML, if it works in IE, that's good enough for me." For a lot of web designers, they currently think that Netscape 4.X is already too strict!

With Netscape 5 being even more strict than NS 4.X, Mozilla only dooms itself to oblivion with these high standards.

#17 ok, then The Web is doomed !

by RvR

Thursday November 25th, 1999 2:38 AM

if this is all IE has achieved, namely turn an innovative project (The Web) into a bunch of conservative people who say ''I won't change anything on my site if i'm not asked by MicroSoft(tm)'', then WE ARE ALL doomed. And the web is dead.

I remember a few years ago, when we were all eager for new and better features in browsers and so on. Now that things can go better (browsers becoming compliant with open standards), it's insane to see that people who call themselves "webmasters" don't want to enhance their site anymore...

i may seem too pessimistic here, but i'm confident that things will evolve. i'm just fed up of this current trend among so-called webmasters.

sorry for the controversy.

-- Hervé

#22 Not doomed! Tired of IE5's Bad HTML errors!

by SailorV

Thursday November 25th, 1999 10:57 AM

Given the choice between Micro-Soft's so-called standards and the World Wide Web Consortium's standards, I'll take the real thing over Micro-Soft any day.

Mozilla is poised to *replace* IE5 as the dominant browser because of, not in spite of, it's standards compliance. First off, Mozilla is not just free, but open source. If Mozilla sticks to the W3C standards and boasts that it's sticking to *the* Web standard, even amateur webmasters won't have a reason to stick with IE.

Lastly, Mozilla will replace IE5 on lots of desktops simply so IE users won't have to put up with getting "Bad HTML" error boxes every time they visit perfectly standards-compliant sites.

If any browser is doomed, it's Micro-Soft's. Just wait and see.

-Sailor V

#32 Re: Netscape 5: Doomed!

by Dracos

Thursday December 30th, 1999 1:06 PM

IE has created a wave of sloppy web developers because it allows sloppy code. These people shouldn't complain that NS4 is too really is too correct. If these people are too lazy to realize that their code could be useless to a non-IE user, then they shouldn't be developing sites. Of course, this is all Microsoft's fault anyway.

#35 Re: Netscape 5: Doomed!

by tecaddict

Saturday January 22nd, 2000 1:36 PM

Netscape is doomed. With so many businesses moving over to IE with the Windows 2000 release, you can kiss Netscapes market share goodbye. The new networking features for businesses MS is releasing works best with IE. People use at home what they use at work. Expect Netscape's market share to be about the same as neoplanet by Christmas. I am not going to bother making our sites compatable with Netscape beyond version 4.

#18 Internet Appliance CRAP

by danielhill

Thursday November 25th, 1999 3:51 AM

Come on, you SERIOUSLY think these comsumer based Internet appliance CRAP will actually work? Look at CD-I, Amiga CDTV, FirstPerson (what Java started out to be) and countless others.

After that spat over IM (well, I think it was all staged myself, MS and AOL ALWAYS together), AOL and MS are getting even closer. The AOL CD's now distribute DirectX 7, and it's on their update-download-thingy (from what I've heard, I don't use AOL)

As for non-Windows OS, keep dreaming. As much as most people hate Windows, can you see, say, Tomb Raider 4 or any games (except Quake 3) or educations software being released for Linux or BeOS? Didn't think you would.

As for 'It works on IE, it's good enough', if ANYBODY said that to me, and I was a manager, I would FIRE them on the spot. Right there and then. You can't say to 25% of your potential customers, 'get IE'. It is the webmaster's responsibility to ensure as many people can view your site.

And, strangely enough, I think dumping support for propietary and broken 'features' from browsers is the way. Force webmasters to comply to the standards, and MS will have to change their browser.

Don't get me wrong, I WANT Mozilla and Netscape to win, to take back the crown. Can I see it happening? No. With owners that don't give a rat's arse about it, it is doomed. Barksdale and Clark were greedy idiots for selling to these morons.

PS. AOL looks old anyway. CTRL+N to write new e-mail??? Keep them away from Mozilla.

#30 Oh yes there will be games (and apps) for Linux

by Anon

Monday November 29th, 1999 8:57 AM

Thanks for your input, but look at your post in five years and you will wonder how you could have been so near-sighted.

When the computer-savvy move to Linux, so moves a large target audience of the juggernaught budget video-games.

Internet-related apps as well. The most recent intersting one was Allaire's ColdFusion 4.5, which until recently was an Windows only equipment dev/server ware. But since so many of the users of thier software prefer Linux, it was worthwhile to port.

The drawbacks for game development, lesser extent apps, is compatibility issues of hardware, but in five years time, it will be as far removed as what PC hardware woes were 5 years ago. As a game developer in Windows and Linux, I can first hand say all my run-in's with the Win API have been major headaches as so many features are undocumented anywhere and so much crap is added to make it difficult to make a Win emulator.

#21 Ready for Navigator 5.0

by KaiRo

Thursday November 25th, 1999 8:03 AM

As a *very* smaller web-developer (two very small sites) I was getting sick of the differences between Nav4 and MSIE thogh I'm a Netscape fan. Now I agreed for myself to change my personal homepage ( to a standards compliant site being showed correctly by Mozilla and ignore what MSIE does not accept on those pages as long as they don't look too ugly. And I'm putting the "old" design to a Nav4 directory to which all Nav4 users are redirected via JS. I think I would do that more and more also on my other *small* stes. And I think it's a good way to deal with the different browsers used now and in a few months (MSIE4, MSIE5, Nav4, Mozilla/Nav5) and to deal with standards (the primary page is standards compliant, the secondary is a "patch" for Nav4). The only remaining problem is how to deal with dynamic content...

#24 Preparing Your Site for Navigator 5.0

by danielhill

Friday November 26th, 1999 2:56 AM

No, thelem, AOL can break the agreement at ANY TIME. AOL have said that they will wait until 2001 before even considering it.

Who would CHOOSE?? Microsoft's ally, America Online.

#25 Preparing Your Site for Navigator 5.0

by thelem

Friday November 26th, 1999 1:04 PM

I don't disagree with that. My point is that they are using their OS monopoly to get AOL to use Internet Explorer. That is surely using a monopoly in one area to gain a monopoly in another area, which is illegal, is it not?

If I was AOL I would probably make the same choice. The deal should be rewritten as an advertising contract, where AOL pays M$ money.

#27 pointless deal

by danielhill

Saturday November 27th, 1999 9:28 PM

But who opens that Online Services directory anyway?? The latest Win98 Second Edition gives the option NOT to install it!! Don't AOL check up on MS????

Yep, AOL don't care about the browser. CompuServe is now the cheap-crap network. ICQ is being left to rot in favour of AIM. WinAmp's installer asks even more demographic questions, and is full of bugs. Same will happen with Netscape.

Let's hope the Open Source community can embrace and lift Mozilla and distance it from these idiots.

#29 Want to improve browser marketing? Tell us how!

by ekrock

Sunday November 28th, 1999 2:18 PM

BTW, if you believe you have new/better ideas about how to market the Netscape and Mozilla browsers, don't be shy! You can post your thoughts in, or you can email me your thoughts directly at Remember, open source isn't limited to development!

#31 Preparing Your Site for Navigator 5.0

by Anon

Tuesday November 30th, 1999 10:16 AM

By the time Navigator 5 release it will once again dominate the market shares, aside from supporting the w3c standard which will sounds a relieve to almost all the web developers, the software comes in a very small size compare to ie. What I think is that the launch of navigator 5 will be a bad news for the ie. Mozilla Rulez!!! Netscape Rulez!!!

#33 Web development hassels

by henrikmattss

Monday January 17th, 2000 12:20 AM

I work as a junior web developer, working with various client and server side languages. I've found that it's a lot easier to write HTML on _netscape_ since it's stricter on syntax. The code then needs very little tweaking to work on ie.

As for this "Oh, my god - another standard" - thats just crap! How hard is it to use another if() in your javascript code?

#34 Re: Web development hassels

by ztaffan

Tuesday January 18th, 2000 3:11 AM

This is true, I myself worked for a large Swedish Telecom company (name withheld) that enforced MSIE as The Intranet Browser. I nevertheless tested my HTML with Netscape since it is stricter and does not allow the sloppy HTML IE digests. When NS accepted the code, I trusted it to work on IE as well, more or less... (Of course a lot of internal customers got in touch with me asking "why does not the dynamic menu things work in Netscape?"). So I ended up writing JavaScript with if():s... -no problema!