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Some special info for users of old web browsers, like Netscape 4.7 and MSIE 4

[UPDATE March 2006] — WOW! This article is ancient history, from 2002 and 2003! I am re-coding the website into the PHP-based WordPress content management system.

Four years ago, I had to worry a LOT about people using very old web browsers that could not display my content. Back then, my content was straight HTML.

Now fast forward to 2006 —- Very few people still use those dinosaur web browsers.

But way back in the early days, I tried to accommodate those who used ancient technology, and this article explains what I did ……….


INTRODUCTORY NOTES – Jan 2003: This info is somewhat out of date but still useful. There was a time, a long time, when I used separate CSS stylesheet files to control the display of my site. I denied the CSS file to older web browsers using the “@import” trick. During that period of time, visitors with older web browsers would see a pretty different looking site than would visitors with modern web browsers. This page was designed to let those visitors with older browsers know that my site was not really so rough-looking as they thought. This page links to screenshots of how my website looked to older browsers and how it looked to modern browsers. The screenshots are still up, primarily as a teaching tool for those who are interested in denying the CSS stylesheet to older web browsers like Netscape 4.7 and Internet Explorer Version 4. I no longer use separate CSS files, as I discuss in the following articles: Redesign notes and Learning HTML and website development.

Now everyone gets my stylesheet, because each and every HTML file contains a section in the HEAD listing the styles. I no longer have a need for the separate CSS file. I was finally able to figure out which CSS commands were corrupting the display for older version web browsers, and I modified those commands. In addition, I added deprecated formatting instructions in the HTML body, as default display commands for those browsers that won’t know what to do with the CSS commands I call within the HTML. The site looks better in modern browsers, and it “works” (or rather, “degrades gracefully”) in older version browsers.

The screenshots below are still useful to my visitors today. That’s because the older version browsers still don’t see the best presentation of my site, because they don’t know what to do with my CSS commands.

(The original article text)

This article points you at some pictures that show you what this website is supposed to look like, but older browsers don’t get to see. This website looks especially rough around the edges to older web browsers. I explain some things about why this is so.

If you don’t know what version you have, click on your web browser’s Help menu at the very top of your screen and then click on About. You should see an info screen from your browser that tells you the version you have.

If you have Netscape version 4.7 (and Internet Explorer version 4), you are probably not seeing my webpages the way that I think they look the best. They look rough around the edges to you, most likely. I am providing some links below to some screenshots of how my webpage ought to look, just to show you the visual differences between older and newer browsers. I want you to know how hard I’ve worked to make this website accessible to those of you who still use old browsers like Netscape version 4.7. In order to make this website usable to you, I’ve had to take certain steps that reduce the visual appeal of the website to you. I have had to refuse to send your web browser some important commands about formatting and colors and fonts, or else you would not be able to see my website at all.

There are important differences in how older and newer browsers process instructions for how to display a webpage. Some instructions that work well for Microsoft Internet Explorer 5.5 or 6 will not work at all for Netscape 4.7, etc… There are forums on the internet for those who develop websites. Those forums have discussion areas for such things as this: The differences between how older browsers and newer browsers interpret webpage instructions. Webmasters joke about how it’s difficult to write webpages that display acceptably in the various browser versions, due to quirks in how the browsers interpret commands, and that the differences and difficulties help keep webmasters employed.

In my article describing how I learned to develop a website, I talked a little bit about how I was surprised to find that older Version 4 web browsers could not see my website, and I described how I had to re-code the entire site to make the site accessible to older browsers.

Now I am taking the extra step of showing you pictures of how my site should look. To some of you the visual differences might not be that significant. But I think you will agree that Netscape 4.7 and older browsers are not seeing the best visual presentation of my site. I am happy to say that users of Netscape 4.7 are at least able to use the site, and they are able to read the info.

Screenshots for you to view and compare

The screen shots were taken at some point in the past, before some text changed on the front page. My site looks more “finished” in newer browsers. In older web browsers like Netscape 4.7, the site looks more rough around the edges.

Click here to see a screen shot of what the TimsLaw front page looks like in IE 5.5, 1024×768, at medium text size, WITH the CSS style sheet that is denied to version 4 browsers. (about a 200k download – takes a few seconds on a modem) NS 4.7 and MSIE 4 both do a horrendous job with CSS stylesheets, particularly with borders for tables and for background coloring and fonts within table cells. My header section, where the logo and my name and where the menu is, is built from HTML tables. I intended the header to look somewhat like an image, but it’s not an image. I wanted the boxes to appear to float on a lighter background. I needed control over how the browsers format the tables, particularly regarding the borders and fonts and colors. But I could not control NS 4.7 or MSIE 4. So I figured out how to deny the CSS stylesheet to those older browsers.

Click here to see a screen shot of what the TimsLaw front page should look like in Netscape 4.7 WITHOUT the CSS style sheet, at 1024×768 resolution. (about a 200k download – takes a few seconds on a modem) This should be what you see in Netscape 4.7. However, this photo might not exactly match what you see for two reasons. First, you might have your text size set larger or smaller than I did when I took the screenshot. Second, since I’ve taken the photo I may have made some text changes on the front page, so the words you see will be somewhat different in this photo than the current version of the front page.


After you view the screen shots, you might be thinking that the little stylistic differences don’t matter to you, and that
the important thing is that the info on the site was accessible to you when you wanted to see it. If that’s how you feel, then I’m glad, because that’s how I hoped you’d feel, and that’s why I worked hard to make the site usable to you even though the site’s appearance is more rough around the edges to you than I would have liked.

***** END OF ARTICLE ***** Missouri Employment Law

Maintained by Attorney Phil Willoughby
Founded by Tim Willoughby, Esq. (1959-2013)

Phil is a Missouri employment lawyer who is licensed to practice in Kansas and Missouri, and primarily takes cases in Saint Louis and Kansas City. He is a member of the Missouri Bar Association and Kansas Bar Association. Additionally, he has practiced in the United States Federal Courts of Missouri in St. Louis and Kansas City. He has also practiced in the Kansas Federal District Court in Kansas City, Kansas.

Missouri Bar Website (To view the directory of lawyers).

Phil Willoughby, Attorney
Licensed in Missouri and Kansas

Kansas City Office:
9800 NW Polo, Suite 100
Kansas City, MO 64153
Google Map of 9800 NW Polo, Kansas City, MO 64053

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