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>>...Netscape 6 marketing campaign bears the stamp of AOL's familiar methods: Netscape 6 will be distributed on CDs included in numerous magazines...<<
I've been wondering how they hoped to carve out a market share now that MSIE is so dominant. Should have known with AOL as owners we'd see lot's of free coasters.
I'm more than a little apprehensive about this. Not that I'm against standards-compliance. It's a nice idea (wonder if it will ever really happen?). It's just that backward compatibility may be a huge problem for a while -- even with Netscape 4.7 -- since so much HTML today includes non-standard workarounds which would not work well in a strict HTML4 environment.
I'm most concerned with is this: right now we code for NN and MSIE on at least PC and Mac. Some sites I optimize for WEBtv as well and AOL has some proprietary oddities of its own to look out for. Add in SEO as at LEAST the equivalent of coding for another browser. Will a standards-compliant Netscape 6 add yet another item to this list before it eventually simplifies things?
Since I happen to know that you ran the beta through hoops on this, I'm assuming that's a rhetorical question, Tedster. (I shudder to think what the NS6 rendering might produce. My browser sniffing script will soon be bigger than the content on most pages, btw.)
Now I will have some past sins to fix, and some learning to do. I hope it's all worthwhile, because the future really needs standards. (heck, the present does!)
Imagine not worrying about compatibility testing!
When I tested the preview version, it behaved exactly as the "strict HTML4" viewer on anybrowser.com [anybrowser.com] predicted -- with no concession made to transitional HTML4.
This is probably a good thing. A lot of the bugs we've seen in the past came from trying to make browsers that were "forgiving" of bad code. It's just going to be a painful transition, except for the most vanilla sites.
I tried going to a site that (when you order) goes to a different domain (with a Thawte). Same thing.
>Super annoying when trying to check sites/pages
The right-click button is exactly the reason I use NS4 for working vs IE (also I like the NS bookmark file). I had heard that the right-click had been hurt in NS6.
I see the non-functioning right click, and that is a pain. I also felt a moment's anger when the AOL shortcut appeared on my desktop.
The browser-based search, right from the location bar, could be an important change. If users start going to Netscape Search results (and therefore the GoTo top 2) directly from the browser GUI, that could be an interesting factor in the SEO game.
I noticed the same extreme sluggishness with secure sites that net24_7 mentioned. For instance, it took over 2 minutes to access the account management page on GoTo. That just won't work in an e-commerce world. It's like having sleeping cashiers all over the net!
It's often hard to tell if the browser isn't working at all or if it's just extremely slow. The status bar gives no informative messages -- just a thermometer. Maybe AOL thought all that technical stuff was scaring the multitudes.
The status bar reports "document done" when the HTML is in, even if nothing renders on-screen for another two minutes because of images downloading and tables getting sorted out.
The feel is very strange. The new screen often waits to come up until there is material to render -- and I'm used to a nearly instantaneous change to a blank screen once a link is clicked.
Even the onboard menu is slow to respond. I went to clear the cache and thought my click hadn't registered. And not only is the right click gone, but the instant highlight of the full URL in the location window is gone, too.
Some old bugs are fixed -- that's good. No more extra "browser english" in rendering frames, for instance. No more 1 pixel margins if margins are set to zero.
But if AOL expects their Netscape dog to hunt, they better train it a little better before they flood the world with a whole bunch of shiny new mini-frisbees.
Fast page rendering. It seems somewhat slower than IE on complex nested table pages, and somewhat faster on simple tables and CSS-based layouts.
W3C DOM. It's nice to finally be able to produce JS pages that work with both IE5 and NS6 without any sniffing or conditional code. Based on my current visitor statistics, I'd say it's time to drop document.all, and Netscape 6 means we can probably lose document.layers within 6 months or a year.
Slick UI. The modern theme is simple and clean. The one from PR1 and PR2 was hideous.
Slow startup time. A shade over 20 seconds for me. My understanding is that we can expect a statically linked version and a boot-time preloader like IE uses to leave most of the browser in RAM and reduce app startups, so that should help.
No XSLT yet. It wasn't ready when 6.0 was released. Personally, I'm more concerned with SVG (which also wasn't ready), but XSLT is an issue for some people.
No LDAP. Not a problem for me, but it seems to be giving corporate users some headaches.
No layers or IE DOM. If you haven't moved to W3C DOM yet, Netscape 6 users will either get the wrong page or fall back to the non-JS version. Another fine example of why so many tutorials advise you not to use browser sniffing :)
Stability. I've been using 6.0 constantly since release without a single crash. The original release of 4.0 was a true disaster.
Sidebar. Some people love it. I don't use it, but you can have the browser do a web search and put the results in the sidebar (no need to click back after visiting of the sites in the results), operate bookmarks from there, etc. Sites can add buttons to install custom content into the user's sidebar on demand, and you can configure the browser to add a news site's RSS headline feed as a sidebar tab. Someday, I'll give that one a try, but I haven't gotten around to it yet.
The bookmarks menu. It uses autoscrolling menus instead of multicolumn menus. The "File Bookmark" option wasn't finished in time for release. Sometimes the bottom of the menu gets chopped off, forcing you to either open a new window and use its bookmark menu to scroll down or use the bookmark editing window. Sometimes, passing the pointer over the scroll arrows causes the UI to get "stuck" scrolling until you pass it back over the arrow more slowly.
To answer my own question. Yes, it is an improvement over Netscape 4.x. It does seem to load pages faster and have some features that are good for seo work the 4.x just didn't have. I particularly like how 6.0 gives you greater access to the cookie file. You can enable / disable cookies, view them and delete them (all at ones or one at a time). I don't like the side bar much, but it could be deactivated. External proxies are still easy to add and remove.