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Re: how to square netscape 4 compatibility with css

From: Bill Mason <w3c@accessibleinter.net>
Date: Thu, 20 Mar 2003 02:33:48 -0800
Message-Id: <>
To: "'w3c-wai-ig@w3.org'" <w3c-wai-ig@w3.org>

At 01:21 AM 3/20/2003, Julia Collins wrote:
>Without wishing to seem immodest, I have written a fabulous javascript and
>table free site where all layout and navigations are controlled by css. It
>works beautifully in netscape 6+ and IE4+ on Mac and windows and fails
>gracefully where stylesheets are not supported. (it is also fully accessible
>for people using screenreaders).
>My problem is, my client, who is large and archaic, has about 7,000 PCs
>running netscape 4 only.  So it is important to write a site that looks good
>for them.  Thing is, while it works, it looks s*** in that lovely browser.

Without trying to be flip, you really should have asked what browser level 
the client wanted supported before writing one line of code.  I really 
don't understand how development can start without asking what the client's 
audience, be it internal or external, is using to view the site now, and 
what base/bottom-line browser audience the client wants to support going 

>I have been fiddling around and found a few workarounds which make the
>situation a bit better, but it still looks like a bad web design in NS4,
>with boxes all misaligned, rollovers not working (which I can live without)
>and "strong" citations misaligning.
>What do I do?  I am sorely tempted to write to the head of IT at the client
>organisation and say that if they want W3c compliant, accessible sites
>(which they demand, quite rightly) that look good at their end (which is
>important to them) then they have to install standards compliant browsers on
>their machines.
>I have to stress that the site works in NS4, it just looks awful.
>Any thoughts?

Trying to ram doing 7000 upgrades at an IT department that probably has 
full days as it is will probably not get you anywhere.  It's the last thing 
you want to do, particularly if the IT head is not the one who commissioned 
you to write the site in the first place.

What level of accessibility are you targeting?  Is it because the client 
mandated that particular level as a target (or the law in their 
jurisdiction requires it)?

In other words, was the client fully aware at the start that the coding 
techniques required to achieve whatever level of accessibility this is 
would be incompatible with Netscape 4?

If so, then you have a clear course to educate them that Netscape 4 may not 
be able to give them the accessibility they want, and render the site as in 
newer browsers.  They will have to make, with your expertise as input, an 
informed choice on how to handle it:

Leave the site as is?
Leave the site as is, do a NN4 upgrade?
Change the site to hide all CSS from NN4?
Rework the site to better support NN4?

If not, then there is still an education process to go through.  But you 
will be on shakier ground.  Either an accessibility goal was arbitrarily 
picked that the client's installed browser base can't handle, or the client 
set an accessibility goal without understanding the ramifications of 
it.  The conversations that should have happened at the start will have to 
happen now.  The client will have to make an informed choice about how they 
want to balance the site's accessibility versus what browser base they want 
the site to do more than just function in.  And you go from what they decide.

Bill Mason
Accessible Internet
Received on Thursday, 20 March 2003 05:34:00 UTC

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