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Re: [HDP] Other comments from RI

From: Marghanita da Cruz <marghanita@ramin.com.au>
Date: Tue, 28 Aug 2007 09:12:23 +1000
Message-ID: <46D35A57.9060005@ramin.com.au>
To: Lachlan Hunt <lachlan.hunt@lachy.id.au>
CC: Olivier GENDRIN <olivier.gendrin@gmail.com>, Richard Ishida <ishida@w3.org>, public-html <public-html@w3.org>

Lachlan Hunt wrote:
> Olivier GENDRIN wrote:
>> On 8/23/07, Richard Ishida <ishida@w3.org> wrote:
>>>> 3. Degrade Gracefully
>>> In fact, in the statement "new features should work reasonably well 
>>> in older user agents that do not support the functionality" what 
>>> constitutes an 'older browser'?
>> Perhaps we can define an older browser as a browser that is older than 
>> 5 years and jounger than 10. And ignore browser older than 10 years. 
>> Or rely on versions (older browser : version n-2, with n being the 
>> most young stable version).
> I don't think it's a good idea to try and nail down a specific set of 
> qualifications for browsers to be considered, or at least not too 
> specific.  It's a guideline only, it's not set in stone, and one needs 
> to consider various factors.

Just to clarify, the issue I am raising is readabilty of existing data/html 
content files not the browser - as pointed out previously having a standard is 
pointless, if it isn't adopted by authors & readers (authoring software and 
browser developers) alike.

If authors choose to implement the latest features in their webpages - in my 
view, they do that at their own peril.

I don't think HTML Standards can ignore old data/content files or expect the 
owners to "upgrade" them. I write my HTML from a 3.2 quick reference and ignore 
any features it says aren't supported by both Netscape and IE, the prevailing 
browsers of the day.

I would expect these pages to continue to work as would any pages that were 
readable in Mosaic 1 - though that was before my time.

In a large organisation, involving many desktops, sometimes across operating 
systems, any upgrade is even more difficult and the universality of HTML is very 

Bearing in mind that we are trying to be media (or is it medium) independent - I 
expect my webpages to work on a mobile phone also.


> One of the major factors is market share.  Obviously, the greater the 
> market share, the more users who would be affected and the less likely 
> it is that a feature would be adopted if it doesn't degrade gracefully 
> in it.  This would obviously mean that IE 6/7 and Firefox are relatively 
> important, since collectively they currently have the greatest market 
> share.
> Opera and Safari may (depending on which statistics you believe) each 
> have relatively small market share compared with Firefox and IE, at 
> least in the desktop browser market, but they both also hold a 
> significant portion of the mobile market too.  However, older browsers 
> with negligible market share like Netscape 4, IE  5.x, etc. are so 
> insignificant, they're not even worth looking at.
> Yet a small market share doesn't necessarily mean that some browser 
> should be completely ignored.  Lynx, for example, may be used very 
> rarely compared with other desktop browsers, yet even it is sometimes 
> considered.  Similarly, screen readers and other assistive technology 
> may have a relatively small market share, but are still quite important.
> Another factor to consider is the age of the browser and its 
> obsolescence.  IE6 is already 6 years old and even though it has been 
> superseded by IE7 and is therefore not as important, it still can't be 
> entirely ignored.
> Firefox 1.0, on the other hand, is only 3 years old, yet it has been 
> superseded by 1.5 and 2.0, and soon by 3.0.  Therefore, Firefox 1.0 
> could be considered relatively insignificant.  Even Firefox 2, which is 
> based on the Gecko 1.8 branch, is somewhat insignificant compared with 
> Firefox 3.0 and Gecko 1.9.
> It basically comes down to considering the cost vs. benefit of each 
> specific change.  Some changes may turn out to be incompatible with some 
> particular browsers, even if those browsers are relatively significant, 
> yet sometimes the benefit far outweighs the cost.  For example, 
> something may be incompatible with Firefox 2.0, but be fully compatible 
> with the development versions of Firefox 3.0 and so it may be worth 
> sacrificing a little bit of graceful degradation for the feature.
> Given the time expected for this spec to be developed, and that new 
> browser versions are being deployed quite regularly, it may be quite 
> likely that today's browser versions will be obsolete before some 
> feature even becomes implemented and used.  So the graceful degradation 
> for some features in today's versions may not be particularly relevant 
> compared with the next versions.

Marghanita da Cruz
Phone: (+61)0414 869202
Received on Monday, 27 August 2007 23:14:04 UTC

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