[WEB4LIB] Re: Centering Web Page

Thomas Dowling tdowling at ohiolink.edu
Tue Nov 23 09:37:53 EST 1999

[I wrote:]
> Ok, *why* are your pages best viewed under IE4+ and Netscape 4+, and how
> bad do they look in Netscape 3.04?  Do you tell your users?  Does FP2K
> tell you?  And is it really necessary to have such varying displays at
> different workstations?
> It's sounds like FrontPage is managing your expectations at least as
> as your web site.

[Floyd replied:]
> You will have that problem of varying displays regardless of HTML
> editor or whatever.  It is the coding that makes the great
> difference, particularly those that are advanced of the old
> versions. Why not upgrade the browsers.  Do you try to open a
> document created using WordPerfect 8 in an earlier version?  Does
> it not work the same for other software packages?  UPGRADE!  It
> is the challenged of the hardware, too...UPGRADE...

Yes, different display environments will display things differently.
That's why good web designs degrade gracefully when displayed with monitor
settings other than the author's.  You don't say whether or not you're
bothered by the different displays, or if they affect the usability of
your page, but if so, it's the underlying design that should change to
meet its environment, not the other way around.

Likewise, you don't say what it is about your site that makes it appear
better in the 4.x browsers, or whether older versions still find your site
usable.  But if Netscape 3.0 users have put off upgrading this long, I
think it's unlikely they'll do so just to enjoy one particular FP2000
site.  (BTW, you've never heard complaints from Office 95 users trying to
share documents with Office 97 or Office 2000 users?)

It's no crime for a site to have optimal viewing conditions: I'm sure the
OhioLINK site looks "best" to some degree on modern browsers running in
portrait-dimensioned windows with decent resolution.  But I'm fully aware
of how it looks on older browsers with different window geometries, and I
consciously decide what the trade-offs are.  My concern is that a lot of
people designing sites with packages like FrontPage go with designs that
are very resolution-dependent and browser version-dependent--and dependent
on quite a few other specifics--without knowing how those dependencies
break down in other viewing contexts.  It's just so easy to let Page
Grinder Deluxe Pro 2000 open up templates that start
"document.write('<table width=750...".

I inadvertantly implied that Floyd's site falls in that category without
seeing it, and I apologize for that.  But the fact remains that this is a
common failing with sites that let any of the big commercial web editors
take over the design process.

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

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