IE does not conform to a Webpage Standard?

  powerless 19:46 12 May 2004


This is just a general question and i'm not having a problem as such.

Anyway here goes, Is it true that Microsoft's Internet Explorer does NOT follow a "standard" of how a webpage should be constructed/viewed. [I hope that makes sense]

For example I assumed that certain websites did not display properly in some browsers [Firefox, Opera, etc] simply becausee they are different browsers.

Now I found out that the real reason is because the website is produced NOT following the "standard" and because of this, the alternative browser can seem to display a webpage wrongly. The truth however is that the website developer did not follow the "standard" and so this is the reason why a webpage may not display properly in an alternatvie browser.

These alternative browsers do conform to the standard so the website developer is the one to blame [if you want to blame someone].

However IE DOES NOT conform to the standard...

[you get that?]

I know about IE being the dominant browser and that web developers will develop a page that can be viewed better in IE because that is what the people are using.

Oh and is there a standard?

  Taran 20:38 12 May 2004

All browsers suffer from certain "characteristics" (a.k.a bugs) which are not necessarily 100% standards compliant.

When using CSS or even plain vanilla HTML it can be necessary to employ some pretty sophisticated hacks to cater to all browsers.

NetScape and Opera have far more problems than IE, but IE is certainly not perfect either.

The bottom line is that no browser is 100% standards compliant, although most of them claim to be to one extent or another.

Opera in particluar makes a big deal about being standards compliant yet it has suffered from some truly horrific issues and some users reverted to older versions for a while because a couple of versions ago things went horribly wrong. Many of these issues have now been ironed out, but many problems still remain.

There are no perfect browsers and one of the biggest complaints from any web designer these days is the fact that if you use pretty standard code, you can guarantee one thing: it won't display properly in all browsers without some serious tweaking.

IE, in general, is far more forgiving than anything else out there, but it does have its share of issues in interpreting code.

Try JavaScript, complex HTML layouts and in particular nested tables, and CSS formatting and watch with tears in your eyes while your shiny web page falls over completely in at least one of the mainstream browsers.

  Taran 20:40 12 May 2004

In case I wasn't absolutely clear, if I make a clean coded page with either a complicated HTML layout or some JavaScript or CSS coding I can guarantee that something, somewhere will break in one or another browser.

It's a real thorn and can take your breath away at times.

  Taran 22:58 12 May 2004

The trouble is certainly with the various browsers.

HTML, XHTML and CSS are all standards, but the individual browsers themselves are the weak link that cannot cope correctly with them.

It's always a little scary to knock up a fairly simple page or site in Dreamweaver, only to have it tell you that there are dozens of "errors" which turn out the be mainly related to NetScape or Opera where they do not support a lot of common or garden code tags.

Valid code does not always equate to browser compatible code, unfortunately, although it can and does help.

Part of the problem is that HTML was originally developed, by engineers, as a simple and logical way of presenting text based documents, hence the term HyperText Markup Language.

Web designers have since perverted HTML about as far as it can go in the pursuit of complex layouts, nested tables, this or that special effect and so on. In chasing that certain look we have taken HTML way, way past its sell by date in terms of its intended use. Couple that with the various rendering engines of different browsers and you're pretty much asking for it.

Just imagine it - in this day and age of XHTML/CSS driven pages, NetScape still can't support simple HTML instructions like bordercolor="" on tables and although this is not a valid attribute it has been so commonly used for so many years that I, for one, am amazed that nobody thought to build it into the current browser releases.

One really interesting one as far as NetScape is concerned is this:

A valid XHTML document requires certain elements in the page. One of them reads as follows and comes just before the opening <head> tag:

<html xmlns="http : // www . w3 .org /1999/xhtml">

An XHTML page is not considered valid without that line of code, but it is not supported at all by NetScape.

That's what we're up against. Go figure.

Current browsers have more bells and whistles than enough, but I'd sacrifice a lot of them for a common ground to work from, where you just knew that your patest pages and sites would work as you intend them to in all browsers.

  powerless 23:25 12 May 2004

What about the web developers apps.

Taran do you know one that has a browwer specific developer tools.

Keep that idea to yourself, we could be millionaires.

My point being for example Frontapge is trying to create code for all browsers?

Why not just one...

It would seem this is more complicated that I thought.

  powerless 23:26 12 May 2004


  powerless 23:37 12 May 2004

my spelling is suffering.

  Taran 11:39 13 May 2004

Dreamweaver, as I've mentioned above, also features browser checking and you can choose which browsers to target as well as the code type to check - different versions of HTML, XHTML and so on.

Adobe GoLive, TopStyle Pro, Macromedia HomeSite and most other mainstream web authorng tools feature browser checks to one degree or another.

There are also some third party applications that some web developers use for site checking. Some are quite expensive - £1000 and up, and up, and up...

Their advantage is that they check and verify all links and look forbrowser specific issues. Justifying their cost falls down to the level if use you expect to throw at them. If you find yourself wasting day after day running site checks then it would be cost effective to use such a product.

I still use the old fashioned method. I keep a fairly recent version of NetScape, Opera and IE on my main development systems and check pages on the fly in each browser. If something breaks, I fix it and then proceed to the next element. On a puely personal note I can say hand on heart that NetScape and Opera hold more unexpected surprises (for want of a better word) than enough and it can be a bit dishearteing to see just how badly they can sometimes mangle even fairly simple code.

This is one of the main reasons I refuse to shift to an alternative web browser for my main daily browsing. I really like many of the features offered in other browsers, but as long as they keep breaking pages more than IE, and as long as some of them will not support online banking with certain banks, I see no reason to move.

  PurplePenny 13:02 13 May 2004

"some of them will not support online banking with certain banks"

But is that the fault of the browsers or the bank's website? One of Opera's biggest problems, until 7, was that it treated *all* pages as though they were written to standard so any page with, for instance, a proprietry tag didn't render correctly. I know that it had other problems as well - the table bug was high on the list of "what's new" in one of the 7.* releases - but some standards advocates seem to have applauded Opera's stand.


  Taran 13:18 13 May 2004

The Opera developers have indeed done a lot of good work but I'd argue that in some cases they were playing catch up for issues that were too shocking for words and that should have never been allowed to get through beta testing.

I'll say it again - fully validated code does not necessarily mean that it will degrade properly in all browsers, yet it should. Valid code goes along way to help, but it certainly doesn't behave predictably all the time which brings us back full circle. This could turn into a chicken and egg discussion.

The W3 code validator is an interesting tool, but I've lost count of the amount of times that validated pages have dropped to bits under NetScape or Opera, and IE isn't without it's characteristics too.

There are more CSS and layout hacks than enough for Opera, NetScape and IE, and many developers now run separate style sheets dedicated to each browser and use a browser sniffer to load the correct style sheet when the page is requested.

Go figure.

Who'd be a web designer ?


  Taran 17:43 13 May 2004

"But is that the fault of the browsers or the bank's website?"

Examle for you:

I spent some time hard coding a fairly simle JavaScript menu a while ago. It worked perfectly in IE and could not be said to be poor or non-standard code, yet Opera couldn't handle it at all and NetScape had some issues with it.

In case I'd totally lost the plot somewhere and in a certain amount of exasperation I asked a couple of friends who specialise in JS to check the code and, as I suspected, they found nothing untoward.

Here's the dilemma: good code = bad output, but only in some browsers.

Things are only slightly better now. I regularly check out pages and sites in Firefox, NetScape and, to a lesser extent Opera and I often find pages that stubbornly refuse to render at all, or that have issues as and when they do render. These are not usually my own work (which is mainly XHTML/CSS) but sites I visit at times that spark a "I wonder..." approach which leads to testing in other browsers.

Often this will be with something as simple as a series of Dreamweaver OnMouseover effects, a small JavaScript to display the current date on a page or any one of a number of other things that absolutely should work.

I don't have all the answers but when a browser cannot cope 100% with bank security measures which, by their very nature, generally consist of several technologies combined into the authentication system, it kind of raises some pretty big questions.

A quick trip over to Dynamic Drive shows a ton of JavaScript/DHTML web special effects ranging from the hideous to the spectacular and there are more than just a few of them that won't work at all in anything other than IE.

Firefox, my current favourite overall browser, fails miserably with most JavaScript despite having the necessary Java installation and being fully enabled.

My own personal view is that the mainstream languages of the web have all been around more than long enough to be incorporated successfully into any mature browser. Any browser that cannot cope with DHTML and JavaScript on top of the simlper HTML, XHTML, CSS specifications is in real trouble.

Many browsers fail misreably with any complex CSS, even in CSS1 specification. CSS2 has been on the go for long enough now and CSS3 is currently in discussion, yet our browsers can't even cope properly with CSS1 all of the time even though they all claim full support for CSS2. I also find it bizarre and more than a bit ironic that frames were originated by the NetScape crowd yet it offers worse frames support than most other browsers.

I've said it before, but:

"Who'd be a web designer ?"


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