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| I was working on a web site a couple of months ago. It was a pretty standard sports site for an up and coming service on the web. I was leading a project team to completely redesign yet another messed up post Pabulum project. Don't get me wrong. I have nothing against the Pabulum group, but their code is impossible to work with. The purpose of this assignment was to get the code ready for dynamic generation. We had to make it simpler, without losing the effect. It was also my first project that took advantage of JSP code. Needless to say, I was excited.|
After a long night of pizza eating and frenzied coding, the site went live. We watched the hits come in over the soda can covered desk of the head of engineering. It was a remarkable experience. One detail that struck me though. Over the first three hours we received 90 hits. I know it's wrong to call sessions hits, but I just can't help myself. 90 hits doesn't sound like much, but that's really not all that bad for your first three hours.
Over the years, graphical browsers like Mosaic and Netscape1 took its place. And then a funny thing happened. Microsoft.
As a large Evil Corporate Entity based on world domination, they saw the potential that the Internet provided. Thus, Microsoft Internet Explorer was born. Now, the first few versions of IE were terrible. Netscape had them out moded in every way. And so the browser war began. Users took sides quickly. Although, IE became a part of the Windows 95 Operating system, Netscape had something IE never could. Sympathy. Being an IE user in a Netscape office became as bad as being a Republican in California. Web sites started screening out any browser that didn't have Mozilla in the tag line, and virtual blood was shed from Redmond to Haifa. It was became a religious argument. To a Netscape user, you were less of a human being if you preferred IE. It was like you were in league with the Devil himself, Bill Gates. Eventually, Microsoft won, nearly driving Netscape out of Business. Microsoft didnâ€™t buy Netscape, but in the eyes of most Netscape users at the time, AOL wasn't much better. As browsers became more advanced, we saw the beginnings of streaming content, new Languages like Java, ASP, and others were buzzing around the IT community. IE became the staple at most Internet startups, and as someone who really didn't care what browser I was using, that was fine by me. Months later, I was using IE 4.76. After complaints from a client that the page wasn't viewing properly in Netscape 4.1, I downloaded it. To my shock and utter horror, I watched as Netscape ttore and mangled my beautiful pages.
So I rewrote them. When I was done, they looked great in Netscape. My client was very pleased. Unfortunately, IE didn't have the slightest clue as to where to even start reading them. Eventually, I settled for an inferior product, just because it read the same way in both browsers.
But that was almost two years ago.
By the time I had started at the happy little sports site, I was using IE 5.5 and according to the server logs, almost no one was still using Netscape 4.76
Honestly, I couldn't blame them. But viewing the first 90 hits, and noticing that Netscape users literally out numbered Lynx users two to one. I wondered if I had wasted three weeks of my clientsâ€™ time on nothing? Could there be a sudden surge of Netscape users that would make the whole thing worthwhile?
The users never came.
The next project I started was for a furniture company. By this time, Netscape 6.1 had been released, and I was jumping for joy. Finally, I can get away with screening out 4.76 users. So that was exactly what I did. When that site went live we had a larger percentage of Netscape users. Six Percent. Sometimes, it even went up to 15. Never higher. 4.x users were sent to a page telling them to upgrade. It felt good.
But even with Netscape 6.1, IE is still a better browser. It's faster, and smarter. Although Netscape 6.1 has some cool new features that IE doesn't have, like skins, the fact is that a browsers job is still too read web pages. That's all. It doesn't need too be an amazing program as long as it reads web pages fast, well, and accurately. At all of these, IE just does a better job. As a developer, I need to be impartial. But ask yourself this question:
Are you using your browser because you honestly believe it's a better browser? Or are you using it because you hate Microsoft?
Other 10 submission(s) by this author
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|Other User Comments|
|3/7/2001 8:41:07 AM:Alex Nunn|
I use the most recent version of IE in
release and love it. With 5.5,
everything loads fast and IE is
integrated enough into the OS that
initial load time is much faster then
Netscape. For the company I work for,
I've continued to create a secondary
page for the complex stuff Netscape
can't handle, but I've never bothered
to look at the logs. Unless they don't
manage to fix all the bugs Netscape 6
has, I'll probably continue the
|3/8/2001 12:27:02 PM:Dondata|
Very beautifull written.
IE has come to stay, and that´s
The functionality in IE is way
more efficient than
Netscape was the truly
pioneer of the web. But IE has
overtaken the market, with it´s
friendyness, and functionality.
|3/12/2001 11:23:58 PM:Dan Hendricks|
It sounds like there is heavy bias in
most of the feedback. I agree with the
author. I used to be a hard-core
Netscape fan (it was faster and better)
and switch to IE since it supported
more stuff and is MUCH faster loading.
As a developer, I HATE developing for
non-IE browsers - but I do it anyway
because I don't think my opinions
should hinder information exchange and
the Internet as a tool. Plus, I get
paid by the hour anyway. I know there
are few Mac users here given the
content of this site, but I'd also like
to remind everyone to view their web
pages on a Mac, if possible. Mac users
count as hits too! They may be using
IE for the Mac, but it doesn't always
look the same as IE on Windows.
|3/18/2001 11:54:24 PM:TheFrogPrince|
I agree with the author. As a
developer, I will be devoting as little
attention to accomodating Netscape as
possible. My latest page is an
The site obviously uses tables and
frames extensively... and ever since I
can remember, Netscape has implemented
these two items properly. Until
Netscape comes up to par on those two
items, they deserve to be boycotted...
'cause it's not like those are real
fancy or complicated things. Netscape
focuses too much on fancy... they miss
the basics. As an alternative, the
Opera web browser also renders frames
and tables properly... and it gives an
alternative to Netscape for people who
can't get over their loathing for a
lucky guy named Bill Gates. =)
|3/19/2001 6:22:57 AM:Fishybob|
I used netscrape up until IE 4.0 came
out. Ever since then I feel as both a
developer and user that IE offers a lot
more and is by far the better browser.
Supporting Netscape has become one of
the number one complaint of web
developers and it's not surprising more
and more people are just giving up
It is a shame
that with such well documented
standards (www.W3C.org) to work from
that browser applications cannot give
us developers a consistant and accurate
base to develop quality websites and
applications that work for everyone
regardless of OS or browser.
|3/19/2001 8:54:38 AM:Heidi|
As a developer it is my job to code for
the IE and Netscape. I make
recommendations on my sites, however, I
test all my programs and web pages in
IE and Netscape (different versions.)
I enjoyed your article very much.
|3/21/2001 4:37:18 PM:ARRiVE|
|4/4/2001 1:43:39 PM:Ian Ippolito|
I too used to use Netscape
(back in IE1.0 and 2.0 days when IE
really stunk), but after IE 3.0, I
switched permanently because of the
better speed, features and rendering
capability. Planet Source Code
receives about 8% Netscape users,
though, so I still have to code for
|4/4/2001 3:43:21 PM:Sam Moses (Author)|
I've decided that I like the way NS 6
renders pages for the most part. It's
better with frames (still not perfect)
and worlds better with tables. The only
real problem is that it is snail slow.
When users are faced with serious
bandwidth concerns slowing down their
viewing on the server side, a browser
as slow as Netscape 6 doesn't help
|4/6/2001 6:48:07 PM:Jeff Katz|
Netscape 6 is superior to ie 5.5 in all
ways but one, and its a biggie, and it
explains alot: Microsoft Internet
Explorer, since version 4 (when many of
you switched), has had the JAVA VM
intigrated with Windows. The Java
starts when windows starts, and ends
when windows ends. Netscape has to have
its VM load when you load Netscape,
which explains the LONG startup time.
Netscape also has to initialize the VM
EVERY PAGE YOU VISIT. This is why it
takes longer. On pages where there is
no script of any kind, Netscape wins (I
tested) IE has the vm Initialized 24/7
because of things like ActiveDesktop
(Just so you know I use
5.5 also, but you cant bash Netscape
without knowing the facts)
|4/7/2001 11:36:25 PM:Herb Riede|
Unfortunately, Netscape is killing
themselves with Netscape 6. I too was a
devoted Netscape user until IE
However, as a beta tester for
Netscape 5 (what? where?) I noticed
they were commiting suicide. Obviously
N5 never showed. Netscape 6 is not much
of an improvement.
I have personally
submitted bugs for IE 5.5 and Netscape
6. I have an article in PSC's VB
section on the IE 5.5 bug MS confirmed
and listed. I have downloaded nightly
builds to help track down the bugs in
the Mozilla browser(The basis of
There are so many bugs,
that one bug I submitted (onClick
script event handling bugs) was replied
from administrators that the developers
are too overwhelmed to do anything
I hate Microsoft.. I hate
AOL (who bought Netscape).. I hate
Apple.. But I have to deal with them
Anyway, great article..
|4/25/2001 3:09:14 PM:Maverick|
I had an arguement at a gathering with
some annoying know-it 15-year old kid
about this. He hated IE because
Microsoft, and in ways I feel like a
hypocrite, however development-wise IE
is better. Developers develop for the
masses, and Netscape bites, but we
still have to do it. My website (still
in works), uses ASP to automatically
adjust and display according to the
browser. Basically 3 layouts... 1 -
IE 4 or higher, 2 - Netscape 4.x, or 3
- NS 6 and all others. My site likes
to use DIV tags, but the support in NS
6 stinks. Style tags are barely
supported with NS4, therefore, my site
will disable special effects and change
layout accordingly. Take a look in
different browsers, it's funny to see
how it changes. Opera users can even
use it, though the layout stinks in
comparison to the one with special
|5/15/2001 6:59:01 PM:Sam Moses (Author)|
God help us all,
I'm using IE 6.
|6/8/2001 5:54:53 PM:Joel|
once aol came in the picture i knew it
was all going to hell. if you load
anything by aol on your box you might
as well just walk out into the middle
of the road and jump into the first
semi you see cuz it aint gonna feel
much better working with that software.
|6/25/2001 1:58:44 PM:Rob|
I enjoyed your article very much. I
have downloaded Netscape 6.1 and am
glad it shows great promise. Now I can
direct users to upgrade, as Netscape
4.x is no longer up to the job that 6.1
and the IE browsers are capable of.
|6/25/2001 2:00:49 PM:Rob|
Good article. I've recently downloaded
and tested Netscape 6.1 with our
project's web site and am glad to say
it shows great promise. Now I can
re-direct users of Netscape 4.x to
|9/5/2001 10:47:00 PM:Michael|
Netscape admits defeat and hopefully
will be gone within a year...
this link >>
|3/1/2002 8:00:49 AM:Nikhil Khade|
Netscape should be banned. IE is up and
running only because it IS better in
all aspects. Netscape should only be
counted in the market if it can make a
better product, not because it supports
|3/13/2002 6:52:29 AM:Pedro Lamas|
Nikhil Khade is absolutely right!
you imagine the work we have when we
have to code for both versions?
the way: where are the CSS2 (and event
CSS3) classes and styles in Netscape?
Because I know that they are available
in IE... I use them!
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