Birthday of a Dinosaur

(Cross-posted at the reBlog.)

nn4Someone pointed it out to me on a mailing list just recently: Today (or yesterday, depending on which report you believe) marked the fifth birthday of Netscape 4.

Now, the non-Web designing folk who frequent the BeatnikPad will probably give about as much a hooey about this as a cat does for raw vegetables (which is, probably nil). But, any person who has designed their own journal Web site or blog, or who designs Web sites for a living, knows the agony that is Netscape 4 and the havoc he wrecks with the most carefully planned layouts.

When he was first introduced he came in filled with new ideas, new concepts for displaying pages, and a whole lot of piss and vinegar. Everyone loved him! He was handsome, could kick the stuffing out of that anemic Internet Explorer with one hand busy rendering complex tables, and navigated the back waters of the Web with the confidence of a 17-year-old jock.

Now, five years later, it’s like this aging Grandpa Simpson-esque farce that just won’t get the hint: It’s time to go to the home.

“What? You want me to do whaaaat? Display a taaable? I don’t thi-iiiink so…”

(We should note that these disparaging comments don’t apply to later versions of the Netscape browser (now at version 7), which are based on the gloriously standards-compliant Mozilla open source browser.)

Coincidentally (or purposefully) enough, this week also marks the relaunch of a revitilized Web Standards Project (WaSP). The WaSP (and I’ll quote from the site here):

… fights for standards that reduce the cost and complexity of development while increasing the accessibility and long-term viability of any site published on the Web.

With all of the major browser companies now boasting standards-compliant products, the WaSP has refocused its attentions on educating designers and clients alike to the importance of developing standards-based Web sites.

Netscape 4.x, easily the most standards-uncompliant browser still being used online, is now five years old. In Internet years, that’s long past the funeral and burial and stretching into a stubborn, unflinching pugatory. A purgatory that’s still being inflicted on defenseless Web sites everywhere.

It’s time we stopped supporting old, broken browsers, and start looking towards the future. Spread the word! Visit the Browser Upgrade campaign, or get that friend of yours that’s still using Netscape 4 to swing by for a look-see. A Web designer will love you for it.

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