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Netscape 4.78 displays empty page
How important is it to make pages compatible with it?

 4:42 pm on Jul 29, 2003 (gmt 0)

I just checked out one of my new pages at browsercam.com and was startled to see that Netscape 4.78 displays an empty page! (That is, empty except for my background .gif texture.) This is disconcerting to me, as about 13 percent of my users use Netscape. Looking in my stats, I can see that none of my users are actually using version 4.78, but there are several other 4.x versions of Netscape that my visitors are using that aren't shown at browsercam.com. How can I tell what these other browsers are seeing, or what can I do to make sure they at least see something?





 4:59 pm on Jul 29, 2003 (gmt 0)


I use Netscape 4.78, if the site concerned is the URL in your profile then I did not see anything wrong when visiting.
All looks well in my browser.

Hope this helps.


 5:20 pm on Jul 29, 2003 (gmt 0)

If Netscape 4 is showing an empty page, rather than a helter-skelter page, you may well have a code problem somewhere. And code problems can give you spider problems, even if browsers give you a viewable page -- they do have some built in error recovery that spiders do not have.

Have you validated your HTML and CSS?

HTML validator at W3C [validator.w3.org]
CSS validator at W3C [jigsaw.w3.org]


 5:27 pm on Jul 29, 2003 (gmt 0)

If you have enough space on your hard drive, grab multiple copies of Netscape and install them. I have versions 4.79 through the most current on my machine at work. Its REALLY handy.

Netscape has a browser archive from which you can download some pretty historic versions! :)


 5:32 pm on Jul 29, 2003 (gmt 0)

I just checked out one of my new pages at browsercam.com and was startled to see that Netscape 4.78 displays an empty page!

I'll agree with tedster that it is probably a code problem. The most prevalent one is a missing </body> tag which causes NN4.x to display a blank page. Other browsers are more forgiving.

Also, I believe this is an artifact from older versions of FrontPage. I've seen this problem numerous times over the years and 9 out of 10 times it was an FP user who had a missing closing </body> tag.


 5:59 pm on Jul 29, 2003 (gmt 0)

Hi folks, thanks for the replies!

Tedster and pageoneresults, my code validates at w3c.org:

[validator.w3.org ]

I have my </body> tag in place and all the code looks right to me; anyway, it validated! :)

I'm also not using FrontPage; all this was done by hand in a text editor.

Downloading some previous versions of Netscape now . . .

If anyone has any other ideas, I'd love to hear them!

Thanks again,



 6:26 pm on Jul 29, 2003 (gmt 0)

Matthew, are you using CSS to control presentation markup? If so, what type of CSS are you using? CSS1/CSS2? NN4.x behaves miserably when it encounters CSS that it does not support. If you have layers and such, there is a good chance that the page will not display correctly unless of course you've set everything up and are including a secondary stylesheet for NN4.x users.


 6:40 pm on Jul 29, 2003 (gmt 0)

Hi pageoneresults, thanks again for the reply!

I'm using a lot of CSS, but I have no idea what version it is. How can I find out? I plan to put the CSS into an external file eventually, but for now it's just in the head of the page to make it easier for me to change it as needed, since I'm still developing it. I'm also using some inline styles, including some in the body tag itself. Will try removing some of that and see what happens.

All else failing, how do I setup a stylesheet that will only be read by Netscape 4.x, but will not affect the stylesheet intended for other browsers?

Also, does anyone have a link to some older Netscape browsers? I went to the Netscape browser archive, but could only get one of the browsers I wanted to download. The rest timed out.

Thanks for your help everyone. Looking forward to the time I can pass some of this along to others!



 6:53 pm on Jul 29, 2003 (gmt 0)

I'm also using some inline styles, including some in the body tag itself.

I've run into multiple problems with NN4.x and inline styles in the past. I found that moving the inline styles to the embedded or external style corrects those issues.

Best thing to do is create a test page. Strip all the styles and then start adding them in one by one and see which one causes the problem. I think removing the inline styles and adding them to the embed or external would be a great first start since I've seen numerous bugs with inline styles.

Another consideration here is to just forget about the NN4.x users. If they are few and far between, one of these days they will get the general message that they need to upgrade their browsers to experience the web now and not as it was 5-7 years ago!


 8:05 pm on Jul 29, 2003 (gmt 0)

Is there any way I can make some sort of custom message, visible only to NS 4.x users, telling them they need to upgrade and giving them a link? Some sort of browser-sniffing should be able to do this, but all I know about browser sniffing is the term! :)


 8:10 pm on Jul 29, 2003 (gmt 0)

Netscape 4 is the only browser that supports the layers object.
So this line...

if document.layers

...will sniff out all Netscape 4 and only Netscape 4. Normally I wouldn't recommend sniffing for an object when you really want to sniff for the browser/user agent; but in this case it works well and it's the shortest code.


 8:23 pm on Jul 29, 2003 (gmt 0)

telling them they need to upgrade

This will make your NS4.78 visitors leave your site at the same speed as if they could see nothing.
Don't impose on your visitors, bad practice. ;o)


 8:27 pm on Jul 29, 2003 (gmt 0)

Is there any way I can make some sort of custom message, visible only to NS 4.x users,

Matthew, one option might be to link to an external stylesheet using the @import statement instead of <link rel>, then NN4 won't get any CSS at all, they will get a totally unstyled page but they will see the content.

Then you could add in a hidden div (display: none; ) so it won't show in any browser with CSS support and have a friendly explanation message in there.



 7:20 am on Jul 30, 2003 (gmt 0)

That's the way I do it:

<link rel....>
with styles even Netscape 4 can't screw up (font colors and the like)
<style type="text/css">
@import url(/styles/sophisticated-styles.css)

and if you like, you could add a message like so:

<div id="hidden">This site will work and look better in a browser that supports web standards, but it is accessible to any browser or Internet device. <a href="/explain.html">What does that mean?</a></div>

This sentence comes from A List Apart. You can of course use other words to explain. Most users wouldn't know what "web standards" are, anyway.

The ID "hidden" will be in the imported stylesheet, like so:

That way, only browsers that can not handle the @import will display the div. The trick is, browsers who can not handle @import cannot handle sophisticated CSS too. Netscape 4 is one of those browsers.


 9:02 am on Jul 30, 2003 (gmt 0)

Netscape 4 seems to read a page from the bottom up. So if you have a missing end table tag, the whole table will disappear! So I would check for missing tags.

Not only strip out all the CSS but take out each part of the page and add it back slowly until you find the culprit. I've done this many times in the past, unable to see where an error was on a page. Often it was something simple like '</a>' left in when a link was removed earlier.

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