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Netscape 4 background with Javascript Disabled



9:50 am on Sep 20, 2002 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member


I am a new member and have several questions about a website I'm
developing. This project is my first attempt at HTML so be kind!

I have validated HTML 4.01 Transitional and CSS. My pages are
designed using a curved graphic sliced and placed into table cells. My pages expand and contract depending on screen size. My table consists of 5 columns - the second and fourth column top row graphics are defined as classes which name the background image. These are set as %'s. The graphics in the remaining columns are actual images with a height and width defined. I have the classes listed in the TD tags.

I should mention that the left and right sides of my table are set up
similarly to expand and contract vertically. The graphic design on my web pages can now expand as I add content to the middle cells without getting out of alignment.

The pages load well in IE 5.5, Netscape 7 and Netscape 4.08. I do
have a problem in Netscape 4 however.

1. If Javascript is disabled then the CSS is not recognized. This
affects the table cells with the background defined in
the "class." The result is white blank areas in my background.

2. With Javascript enabled, there is a white border around the entire
page. I can live with this if there is no way to force the edges
to zero.

3. My menu is Javascript but I'm considering converting it to a
regular menu. There is only one button that utilizes the sliding
feature so I'm not sure it offers much value.

Basically I need to decide what to do from here before continuing to
develop the rest of my site. Can anyone comment on resources that
can show me how to either get my page background to view correctly in
version 4.0 and still validate? If this is not possible, is there
a way to design the pages so they degrade gracefully? I have read about loading two stylesheets? If Netscape 4 can't read the CSS sheets without Javascript turned on then it sounds like two stylesheets wouldn't do the trick. Is there a way to have an alternate page load for Netscape 4 automatically? Can you share links to resources? I'd really like to know what my options are.

Thanks for any comments,



9:56 am on Sep 20, 2002 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

Yes, as you noticed, NN4 needs javascript to render css. How many visitors do you have with NN4, and how many of them would not be using javascript? Probably not many. (I would guess about 4-8% for the first, and 10-15% of that for the latter, but your mileage may vary depending on your market)

And welcome to webmasterworld.


10:23 am on Sep 20, 2002 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

Since my website is new I currently don't have an valid statistics related to visitors yet. My counter records my visits to my site so I'm sure the majority of the Netscape 4.0 visits are me!


10:44 am on Sep 20, 2002 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member tedster is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member

Since NN4 requires javascript for CSS to work, and since, as SmallTime said, it's unlikely to be used by very a high number of visitors, the most I worry about is a NN4 specific stylesheet. You might want to turn off the styles to ensure that the information still makes sense - but I'd worry about many other factors first, such as text-only browsing.

About the other issues you raise:

The thin white border is another NN4 "feature". Even using the non-standard body tags [leftmargin=0 topmargin=0 marginheight=0 marginwidth=0] doesn't eliminate the slivver of the browser's default background color.

I encourage you not to use the sliding javascript menu if it's only a peripheral feature. Website usability and navigation becomes easier when the user choices are always onscreen and don't require a mouseover to be read.

In fact, I may go off on a minor rant, here. Those danged DHTML hidden/visible navigation divs are all the rage lately and I despise them. They are LAZY navigation structures, IMO, and they confuse people with:

1) too many options at once
2) the inability to compare those options, side by side.

Good information architecture with solid planning for navigation elements can create a much more universal menu structure -- one that serves more browsers well, and in a more comfortable fashion for the average user.

[Sorry if I tread on some toes there. Of course, there can be situations and applications where those dynamic menus make some sense and are well done. But they're not the rule in what I see today. It's a just a fad right now, like the blog look.]


3:08 pm on Sep 20, 2002 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

Hello and thanks for the responses!

Since my pages work in Netscape 4 with Javascript enabled should I be looking at a solution for those who have Javascript disabled? How is this accomplished?

I've looked at browser detection and even version detection. Should I be looking at browser version detection and then offering a non-CSS option to the Netscape users with Javascript disabled? Is this even possible?

Is offering an alternative page all or nothing (dependent upon browser version and ignoring whether Javascript is enabled or disabled.)

Thanks, Mona


3:59 pm on Sep 20, 2002 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member tedster is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member

You'd have to do your browser sniffing server-side. And then the odds are you'd need to serve up a totally different HTML doc for NN4 with no javascript.

I'd project that the number of such visitors will be under one half of one percent. Hardly worth the effort to develop AND maintain, especially since most people who have turned off javascript know how to turn it back on.

I'd just check the page in NN4 without the css and see if it's intelligible even though ugly. Let it go at that.


4:55 pm on Sep 20, 2002 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

I agree that the percentage of users affected would be small. I've decided to try converting all my background images to classes inside the TD tag. That way the Netscape 4 user without Javascript enabled will only see the text on the website and a white background (ugly indeed!) This seems to be a better solution than seeing a broken background.

The only downside to this approach other than noted above is that the pages will not always have titles that make sense. Since my business name is part of my background graphic the visitor will be missing this. Repeating it in the body would look silly to the CSS user. I'll try doing a spacer gif with an alt tag of the company name.

Again, thanks for your suggestions. I actually understand what you are talking about so this HTML stuff must be growing on me!



6:07 am on Sep 21, 2002 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member


I wanted to followup and let everyone know that I have updated my pages per your suggestions. My Java Menu Applet is history and I have updated my pages so that they are presentable in Netscape 4 without Java enabled. They do look pretty bad without the nice graphics in the background! The important thing is that the content is intact and the menu is viewable and functional.

All of my pages still validate for 4.01 and the CSS validate as well. Currently I have tested the pages on Netscape 4, Netscape 7 and IE 5.5 and 6.0. Are there any other browsers that you would recommend I test?

Does anyone know of any Hit counters that validate?

My next steps will be to find and install a store component and search feature. I hope I can accomplish these things without having everything fall apart!

Thanks again,



12:37 pm on Sep 21, 2002 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

I'd also test in Mozilla 1.0 and Opera. I don't know how similar Mozilla is to NN7 but there may be some differences.

Opera is a must because it correctly reads CSS. It can show you errors that might otherwise work in IE etc. Opera (ver. 6 atleast) also makes validation checks simple, just press "Ctrl", "Alt" and "v" at the same time.


7:44 pm on Sep 21, 2002 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member tedster is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member

Assuming you've been using Windows, I encourage you to find a friend with a Mac to view your pages. Most of my sites run around 8% Mac users (compared to 2% Opera, for instance) and the OS can make a lot of difference in how the pages look.

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