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Conversation on the future of Browsers...

 10:20 pm on Feb 14, 2001 (gmt 0)

This is from another venue. I thought it an interesting conversation to share.

On Wed, 14 Feb 2001 12:59:30 -0600, (Brett Tabke) wrote:
> "Robin Lionheart" wrote:
> > "Brett Tabke" wrote:

> >> Wanted: opera to request "operafav.ico" from the host when an Opera
> >> bookmark is set and display next to it's entry in the hotlist.

>>What would be the point of not using Internet Explorer's favicon.ico?

It's about promotion. Opera is getting screwed in log files because many analyzers id Opera as IE. If you were to use Operafav.ico, it would put an error in their logs. That gets there attention.

"I have opera users? I never knew I had Opera users. Not only do I have opera users, they are regulars who are bookmarking my site. You bet I will write nonproprietary code that will work in all browsers".

Right now, Opera isn't on the radar screen of webmasters when they write code. There is little incentive for them to do anything but go nuts with proprietary (read: mshtml) code.

This little feature would go a long, long way to promoting Opera with the people we need to promote it with - the people who write the sites!

Now that nn6 is being considered doa by most authors, there is now open talk in most webmaster groups about completely ignoring everything but IE. That was sacreligious six months ago. It isn't about standards, code, or a few miniscule bytes for the icon, it is about survival for Opera.

On some fronts, Opera Software and the product has never looked better. Got the linux port going strong, mac version sounds like it is in the pipeline, got v5 stable and usable under winders, got all the bells and whistles in, and it isn't too far from fully meeting html/css standards. In a nutshell, OS has done and continues to do their part.

While on the other front, NN continues to lose even more market share, and webmasters/site authors are openly talking about forsaking that 10-15% that don't use IE.

Whistler's coming:
The kicker is that IE6 will be out this fall, and who knows how far Microsoft is going to push their extensions this time? I expect RADICAL changes in IE6's language, and command support. I would not be surprised to see them add proprietary extensions to EVERY html, css, and java script entity there is.

EEE Timeline:

We've seen the Embrace phase (ie 3) - we've seen the Extend phase (ie4-5.5) - all that is left is the Extinguish phase.

The new administration is going to back off the anti-trust case (pull a hamstring), and let ms off the hook. When that happens, MS is going to have a serious attitude. Where does the 800lb gorilla set? Anywhere it wants too. And it wants the .net

We need something NOW to put Opera on the minds of webmasters before we wake up six months down the road and find half the net being written with Frontpage. At that point, all Opera will be able to do is to try to write an IE clone.

>>> It would put opera on the mind of webmasters.

>> If that's your real goal, there's a better way to put Opera on the minds of
>> webmasters everywhere you visit, not just the few whose sites you bookmark.

> Go into Preferences Connections and set the "Browser identification"
> option to "Identify as Opera". Let the web servers' browser statistics show
> hits with Opera/5.0 for every page you view.

Sure I do, and I salute the sentiment Robin, I wish more Opera users would do that. The trouble is the mass majority of Opera users don't appear to be doing that. Opera even defaults to IE now and the newer users don't have a clue about such things.



 10:46 pm on Feb 14, 2001 (gmt 0)

> find half the net being written with Frontpage

AAAIIIIUUUUGGH!!! NONONONONONO!!! *pant, pant* Anything but that, please.... anything but that....

If Opera for Mac is actually compliant with everything (DHTML, CSS, etc.) I fully plan to switch over, pay for it, and set it to register as Opera (instead of IE).

It makes me very sad that Netscape is going down the tubes, quality wise... but as long as IE is the only other major fully-functional Mac browser, I'll stick with NN 4.7.

And regardless of IE's market share, I staunchly resist using browser specific/proprietary markup. I would hope I'm not the only one...


 7:49 am on Feb 15, 2001 (gmt 0)

I routinely use netscape 1.2, 3.4, 4.7, IE 5.5, and *Lynx* to test my sites. If it works in all of these, I deem it okay. I probably should add Opera. You can find old browsers at [sauna.org...] and [home.netscape.com...]


 9:16 am on Feb 15, 2001 (gmt 0)

I hope the next few years will see astounding evolution in the art and science of the browser. The main forces behind this should be the maturing of the online population and the advent of XHTML.

1) As the novelty of being online wears off, people gravitate more and more to what WORKS, before they worry about razzle dazzle, like matching the color of their GUI to their room's decor. When technologies mature, people demand high functioning and the companies that provide it have come to the fore.

2) As more websites look to use the extended functionality of XHTML, browsers can focus more on doing a great job rendering valid code and not worry about forgiving bad code. This will free them to be more efficient and effective.

This shift will take a few years -- a long time on the web, but really, not so very long at all. The question in my mind is which browser will see this direction first, and commit to it whole heartedly.

Before AOL bought Netscape, I might have said Netscape -- after all they were willing to wait nearly two years to release a new browser version, just to pursue standards. But AOL has a record of almost disdain for high technical functioning, so I'm not sure where Navigator will be headed. Maybe their alliance with Sun Microsystems can make the difference.

As many have noted, MicroSoft still seems to care more about market domination than really serving their customers. They seem to consider us all their potential captives, so I'm not sure that they will take their browser in a sound direction unless market pressures force their hand. Please.

Opera seems to have their heart and their head in the right place. They're paying attention to emerging Internet markets. But do they have the resources? That's the hurdle I see them facing. They are building some great alliances, -- Eudora and AMD are great buddies to have. But TimeWarner/AOL/Netscape/Sun or Microsoft and their partners/prisoners have some very deep pockets.

Could someone else come from nowhere? I guess it's possible, but this is no longer the early days of the web.

Could all of this be the fantasy of a frustrated web developer -- you bet. I really want Microsoft to either 1) wise up or 2) take a big hit.

Most of all, I want to be able to write correct code, once, and not have to struggle with a host of browser idiosyncracies.


 12:03 pm on Feb 15, 2001 (gmt 0)

A little off base. I design for NN 4.X earliest version in that family (I forget which 4.X it starts at right now. I even used 3.X to test with last revamp but time shows this one has very few hits now). Anyway I do, thanks to Brett and this forum, use Opera also to test with. Here is the question, what is the OLDEST version of Opera that I should worry about when testing?



 8:46 pm on Feb 15, 2001 (gmt 0)

>And regardless of IE's market share, I staunchly resist using browser specific/proprietary markup. I would hope I'm not the only one...

I resist that too, and for one simple reason: I want my sites to be able to be read by as many people as possible. I design many sites for the agriculture field, and if most people in the ag field are anything like my father (wheat farmer) then they probably have the connection speed of a 28.8 if he is lucky. Did I say my father also uses Netscape 2.1? STILL?

When I design a site, I try to design for those who are visually impaired. If I make my sites able to be read by those with disabilities, those sites are also very readable by search engine spiders. And, they tend to download quickly as a result.

In my mind, it does not make sense for me to design a site that some browsers cannot read. Why cut yourself off from a potential client?

And then there is the fact that I am anal.

>I routinely use netscape 1.2, 3.4, 4.7, IE 5.5, and *Lynx* to test my sites.

*laugh* I use an old copy of Mosiac. It that can run your site, it will work on everything else. Actually, there are still a lot of libraries that use Lynx to browse the web. I remember when it came out from KU (University of Kansas) back in the mid 80's for libraries to browse their databases...I thought it was the neatest thing around.



 10:24 pm on Feb 15, 2001 (gmt 0)

I have received four hits from Lynx on one site in the last four months. So it's not entirely dead.

I'll point out this hyperlink again: [cast.org...] which is a site that will analyze your site and point out problems that people with disabilites will have. Considering that a search engine is essentially someone who is blind, this is useful as a SEO tool, too.

The one new HTML feature that I use is the "title" attribute of <a> tags. I put the <meta> description of the page that it will link to in the title. IE will pop up a tooltip with that info, giving a better description of the link before you get there. Since this gracefully degrades in other browsers, I don't have a problem with it.


 10:52 pm on Feb 15, 2001 (gmt 0)

But the newest lynx (2.8.?) spoofs out of the box as netscape doesn't it?


 2:11 pm on Feb 16, 2001 (gmt 0)

Brett: "nn6 is being considered doa by most authors"

What do you mean? N6 seems pretty good to me. It's certainly the most standard compliant browser out there.


 5:38 pm on Mar 6, 2001 (gmt 0)

Well, the buzz is certainly "ignore it" by most users and authors alike. I really hope they can get the problems worked out and make is successful - I think global warming will be more of a threat by the time they do.


 6:02 pm on Mar 6, 2001 (gmt 0)

Brett: Just looked at my lynx, it shows as Lynx/2.8.3rel.1 libwww-FM/2.14. It's probably not the most recent version though :)

Personally I think it's a bit sad that browsers have to spoof who they are to look at some sites, its also a self reinforcing circle as I guess a lot of webmasters (as above) think they only get IE/NS hits and so don't worry about making good compatible HTML.

I like Opera a lot and find myself using it more and more.


 6:25 pm on Mar 6, 2001 (gmt 0)

>> Now that nn6 is being considered doa by most authors...

Here's an interesting online review [linuxworld.com] of major browsers by Joshua Drake of linuxworld. In it he reports on some informal testing he did.

"Netscape 6 uncompressed is 70 MB. Yes, you read correctly, 70 MB. Netscape 4.7 was only 27.5 MB."

Will the average Joe care about the huge footprint, memory bloat, etc.? No, probably not. Will they care about the problems connecting to secure servers? I'd say yes.

But will they even try the new browser? That's the biggest issue of all. Most people I talk to could care less -- there's just very little buzz about this first public version of Netscape 6.


 9:22 pm on Mar 6, 2001 (gmt 0)

I've become convinced that downloaded browsers will never again account for much. It pretty much comes down entirely to what ISPs (particularly AOL) distribute to people who sign up for accounts.

That's not so bad for Netscape (AOL synchronized the version numbers at 6.0 for a reason) but it makes it hard to imagine a business plan that will get Opera onto a lot of hard drives.


 9:48 pm on Mar 6, 2001 (gmt 0)

I have become convinced that most of the typical people who bought a computer at Walmart or wherever upgrade their browser by buying a whole new machine.


 10:51 pm on Mar 6, 2001 (gmt 0)

>I have become convinced that most of the typical people who bought a computer at Walmart or wherever upgrade their browser by buying a whole new machine.


Xoc, that statement came from the soul.

/me laughs.


 11:38 pm on Mar 6, 2001 (gmt 0)

Brett mentioned last year that Opera had a partnership with AMD for the embedded browser market. That's good for Opera, but it still doesn't put it on desktops.

I'd love to see a big break for Opera that brings them an exponentially greater user base. That would be very healthy for the web.

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