Why Doesn't my page Display Properly in Netscape

A number of people have created their web page and testes it in Internet Explorer before uploading it to the Internet. They then make the discovery that people using Netscape instead of IE are unable to view their page.

One reason for this in non-compliant code. IE actually lets people get away with bad coding habits and attempts to make sense of whatever the author of the page has coded even when it doesn't meet the standards. Netscape, on the other hand, expects the code to be (if not completely compliant to the standards then) at least close to compliant with the standards.

The most common problem that people have with their page is not providing closing tags to match the opening tags. The HTML 4.0 standard actually requires most tags to exist in open/close pairs and Netscape will not display your page correctly if expected closing tags are missing. Common tags to leave out are the </td> and </tr> tags in a table definition. IE will display the table for you assuming the presence of the missing tags but Netscape will not display a table unless all of the required tags are present.

The current standard (XHTML 1.0) is even stricter than HTML 4.0 requiring closing tags for all open tags (or at least an implicit close in the end of the tag eg. <br />) so when new browsers start enforcing this standard you can expect even more problems from incorrect code.

So what can you do to resolve this? Well the best thing to do is to actually code your page according to the current standards. W3C who are responsible for the standards have a page where you can validate your web page against the current or past standards. You can access this page by clicking the W3C logo at the bottom of this page.

Another thing to do is to install several browsers on your computer and test your page in each before uploading it. Multiple browsers can happily coexist on one computer. I have links to where you can download several browsers on my Links page.

Another reason is using Browser Specific features. Yes, I know that you cannot create every nice to have feature on your page without using code that only works in one browser. I have some code like that on this site. What I have done, however, is to make sure that the site still displays reasonably on browsers that do not support certain features and that all of the site is still accessible and useable on a range of browsers. As an example of this, most of the entries in the navigation bar on this site are generated by a Javascript but the Home and Site Map entries are hard coded into every page so that anyone without Javascript support can still access all of the pages through the site map.



This article written by Stephen Chapman, Felgall Pty Ltd.

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