different browsers

Thomas Dowling tdowling at ohiolink.edu
Tue Dec 9 17:06:08 EST 1997

-----Original Message-----
From: Gary L. Fraser III <gfraser at intermind.net>
To: Multiple recipients of list <web4lib at library.berkeley.edu>
Date: Tuesday, December 09, 1997 2:56 PM
Subject: different browsers

>I realize this is a fairly novice question, but....
>I am far from an HTML expert, but I do the webpages for my library and have
>been running into an irritating problem. I've viewed the pages in IE 3.02
>and 4.0, and in Netscape 3.0 and 4.0. It looks different in each. I keep
>experimenting with different font sizes, but I can't seem to find one that
>looks ok no matter what the browser. The really frustrating part is that
>the computer that I do all the editing on (IE 3.02) looks ok and then I
>view it on another terminal (also IE 3.02) and the script is much smaller.
>I can't understand this problem in particular. Any help would be greatly
>appreciated. Thanks.


As originally designed, HTML did not address the appearance of text
onscreen, with the minor exceptions of boldface and italic text.  Instead,
it sought to free authors from platform-dependent problems of font
selection, type size, margination, etc., and put those responsibilities in
the hands of the users' software.

Obviously, the last couple years have seen this placid vision of HTML poked,
prodded, and contorted by the Good Folks in Mountain View and Redmond.
Netscape and Microsoft have contributed a number of tags and attributes that
give authors the illusion that they control aspects of document presentation
like font selection, type size, margination, etc.  You have just discovered
how well those hacks work in a heterogeneous browser environment.

I recommend that you explore two separate approaches.  The first is to
abandon--for now--the notion of getting a document to "look ok" in any
browser, and experiment with writing HTML documents more in line with the
original vision.  Think about what purpose a section of text serves in your
document (is it a header?  a paragraph?  a quotation?...) and mark it as
such.  Give my browser an opportunity to do its work and render your HTML.
You may not find the results as exciting as something tricked out with
BASEFONT, FONT, et al., but you will probably not find any unpleasant
surprises as you go from browser to browser.

The other approach is to stop expressing presentational ideas with the
relatively clumsy style hacks that have been added to HTML, and to start
using a tool that was designed for the job.  The tool that has a fair degree
of support is Cascading Stylesheets (CSS); it is supported in 2.5 of the
four browsers you mention.

Let me give an unsolicited recommendation to the HTML 3.2 and CSS reference
materials at http://www.htmlhelp.com

Thomas Dowling
OhioLINK - Ohio Library and Information Network
tdowling at ohiolink.edu

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