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england URL: http://proffs.nu
Added on: 2003-06-29 ; updated on: 2004-12-06
Affected browsers: Mozilla/Firefox, Google Chrome, Konqueror, Opera
Forbidden OS: Unix/Linux, Mac
Severity: High
Contact: [hidden]
No mail sent to webmaster.

Apparently a non-English site that links to various PC software apps.
Description:

This site blocks ALL browsers other than Internet Explorer for Windows.

If you visit this website with any non-IE browser, your browser UA is "sniffed" to make sure you're using IE. If you're not using IE, no matter what non-IE browser you're using, (Netscape, Mozilla, Opera, Konqueror, Safari . . .) you get automatically redirected to - http://proffs.nu/advice.htm - where there's a very arrogant message prompting to either download IE, or to reset your browser's useragent string to be spoofed as IE.

It even suggest that you contact the vendor of your preferred browser to follow Microsoft proprietary web coding rather than recommended W3C web standards, and even has the nerve to refer to the W3C as "some mumbo jumbo organisation" Very bad practice, very bad indeed...

*** Updated on 2004-12-06 ***
Website ok.

Comments:
Comment added on 2003-12-24
Sure, I'll post a comment. I'll post some comments to the claims on your front page.

"The World Wide Web has been created to ensure anyone can freely access information and share it."

Sure, that's the way it should be.

"Some people seem to forget this goal and create websites that can only be accessed through a defined browser, operating system or a combination of the two."

Yes, this is because people want their web sites to have a certain look, just like any artist wants his or her artwork to have a certain look to the viewer. Since the people who make the browsers are not the people who build the web sites, and since the browsers don't show web pages the same way, some people who build web sites decide to favour a certain browser. At the moment, that browser is usually Internet Explorer, since most people use Internet Explorer.

"This is a real pity when we consider such sites could be fully accessible without sacrifying the design or features."

You know that's a big lie. It's easy to give an example of a web page that would be impossible to give exactly the same look in all browsers without resorting to multiple versions and browser sniffing. The fact that CSS is rendered so differently and scripting languages supported in so many different ways makes cross-browser web design an exhausting and time-consuming mine field which propeller heads like you might enjoy, but many web designers certainly don't. W3C and the software industry created this mess, the web designers didn't, and web designers don't have any reason to care about your pathetic campaign.

You should try to make W3C and the browser makers do something about the incompatible browsers, not try to force web designers to cope with them.

Best regards,

Mats Hindhede
Web designer
proffs.nu
Comment added on 2003-12-27
> You know that's a big lie. It's easy to give an example of
> a web page that would be impossible to give exactly the
> same look in all browsers without resorting to multiple
> versions and browser sniffing.

This comes from a big misunderstanding of what the web is. The most important aspect, as stated above, is to make sure the site's content (what matters after all) is fully readable. The web is not a medium similar to paper folder, books or even TV. Unlike those media, the support on which the information (the content) is displayed varies from one person to another. Every single visitor may have a different browser configuration (and I'm not even discussing about different browsers or different devices -think about PDAs, braille browser, television net box, etc.).

Let's just consider people using the very same web browser, same vendor, same version. They still will have a different internet "experience" as their configuration ranges from low to high screen resolution, those having different font size settings (a 10 pixel high font is almost unreadable on a 1400*1050 laptop screen, although it's just fine on an old 14" 800*600 screen -those are still very common!). Not talking about color depth, availibility of Flash/Java plug-in, etc.

Let's make it clear: you can't control how your site will be read. You can't control what your visitor will be using, simply because you don't ship a whole computer to your visitor, unlike with a book, where you ship both the content and the media support.

And this is not a drawback of the web, but an incredible advantage. It allows to spread information worldwide at an astonishingly low cost. Something that is impossible with paper outputs like books. As for television, it's a step in between, but honestly, how television evolved in the past 50 years? We got color, stereo sound and then? No other improvement. We're still stuck with a 640*480 resolution whatever the size of our screens. Can we interact with Television? No, we can't. All we are able to do is to switch from one channel to another. Ever tried "Teletext"? It reminds me of the French Minitel back in the early 1980, but much slower and with no control at all over it.

We are here, with a wonderful technology known as the web, invented to answer a precise problem: share information universally. W3C makes sure this goal last, and it does it well. Not only compatibility among (very) different devices is preserved, but the W3C is continuously working to improve our experience of the web, by producing new recommendations such as the CSS level 3, which allows very nice design possibilities without having to use dirty tricks which makes the web incompatible.

Isn't it better to get a website renders beautifully in modern web browsers and have this very same site accessible from your mobile phone with no, or nearly no, additional work from the Web developer/designer? Get your content interact with machines? Save lots of development time, bandwidth use, and faster page loading for your visitors?

Of course, your site won't look similar pixel to pixel from IE6 Win on a 1600*1200 screen to a mere PDA with limited color and only 320*240 of screen resolution. But is it what your visitor expect? Does he prefer to access your site with whatever he uses or simply be rejected because the "webmaster" decided so? Are you making websites for yourself only or is it to share something with others? Others are different and so their browser/configuration can be.

> You should try to make W3C and the browser makers do
> something about the incompatible browsers, not try to
> force web designers to cope with them.

The W3C does work to make incompatibilites be part of the past. And I can honestly claim it does an excellent job. Every browser who strictly respects W3C standards (by "strictly", I mean, that they don't promote proprietary technologies), are fully compatibles with each other. Create a site compatible with web standards, and you'll noticed it by yourself.

So far, the only popular browser that lacks of W3C support and still promotes propietary and closed technology is Microsoft Internet Explorer. And this browser is a real plague for web designers. It does not support half of CSS 2 specifications, no full support of CSS 1 (unlike MS claims -they must consider CSS 1 "core" to be "full support" then), no PNG Alpha transparency, etc. All this force us to decrease the elegance and use some obscur and time-consuming tricks to create the exact same behaviors (I can think of the CSS "max-width" property, Alpha transparency, etc).

Despite IE Win lacks of broader W3C standard support, it's still enough to ensure a widen compatibilty with various web browser (recent or not).

I'm in the process of writing another site, which discuss the reason, advantages and real world possibilities of a semantic structure and W3C standard-compliant conception. U can have a look at its temporary loaction: http://240plan.ovh.net/~ibisroug/404/modern/en/


Regards,

Cedric Malherbe
Author of this site, and many others
Comment added on 2004-01-17
Thank you, Cedric, for your revealing reply.

It shows beyond any doubt that you are a big joker and your campaign a big joke, almost as big a joke as the pathetic failure of the W3C as a standards organisation. Now it's been 10 years of surfing on the Windows platform, and the latest browsers don't even render some of the basic HTML the same way.

On one hand you say that any demands for identical rendering are due to "a misunderstanding of what the web is..." and on the other hand "the W3C does work to make incompatibilites be part of the past ... an excellent job". Is this some kind of special French logic that is incomprehensible to the rest of us? I guess it would be perfectly natural in your world if the CNN news looked completely different on a Sony and a Thomson, and absolutely unnatural for CNN to complain about it. And if CNN complained, they could rest assured that a government committee in Paris had spent ten years working on the problem.

Since its obviously your business idea to be a Mozilla advocate in order to convince customers to renovate their sites with your "standards compliant" CSS, it must be a pain to remember that CSS support in Navigator 4 was ridiculous compared to Internet Explorer 4.

You certainly have entertainment value, so I will keep your reply for future reference.

Regards,

Mats Hindhede
Web designer
proffs.nu
Comment added on 2004-01-18
> Now it's been 10 years of surfing on the Windows platform,
> and the latest browsers don't even render some of the basic
> HTML the same way.

You seem to still fail to understand that the Web is a "liquid" medium, and thus getting a different presentation from a different browser is something absolutely normal.

Moreover, browsers are not required by the W3C to have the same default settings (like margins, paddings and other such behaviors). W3C actually sets "recommendations", not "standards" (for some political and diplomatical reasons). Thus defaults settings may vary from one browser to another. If a webmaster wants to control them, he simply has to overwrite defaults settings with his own (using CSS).

How come a site could look identical on a monochrome 240*320 screen and on a 32-bit color 1600*1200 screen? The only way to achieve this is to create the site for a colorless and small-screen device only, and provide the very same presentation for everyone, including people using advanced devices. The other option is to neglect people using devices that doesn't match the minimum requirement set by the site's developer, thus narrowing the site's audience.

A website is not a bitmap picture, nor a paper folder with a fixed size. A website is flexible. This allows, for instance, sight-impaired people to set fonts to a higher size and then be able to read the site, just like a person without any disabilty can.

Should we ban people with disability from the internet for the only reason they're not as "capable" as us? How would you react if tomorrow you have an accident and loose sight, or your hands mobility? Would you be happy to be excluded from the only medium you can still access ?

> On one hand you say that any demands for identical
> rendering are due to "a misunderstanding of what the web
> is..." and on the other hand "the W3C does work to make
> incompatibilites be part of the past ... an excellent
> job". Is this some kind of special French logic that is
> incomprehensible to the rest of us?

Different presentations on different devices is not seen as "incompatibility", nor a drawback by either myself, the W3C members and a good bunch of other web professionals. It's just perfectly logic as long as you're willing to consider that the Web is this liquid medium we're talking about. It does, indeed, not look _exactly_ the same, but what matters is to be able to _access_ the site's content, and be able to _read_ it. Incompatibilities would then be seen as _unreadable_ content, software failure when accessing the website, garbage characters displayed in place of meaningful texts, etc.

By writing a website the smart way, you can get a great-looking presentation on desktop computers, with big screen and high color, and still be able to access the very same content (minus the shiny layout) in the streets on your PDA, while the blind person nextdoor is doing the same on his braille browser. I mean, _THAT_ is compatibility. No need to redirect people with arrogance and pretend their choices or decisions are wrong. We all have different opinions, we all have different tastes, and using different solutions to access the web is not more suprising than being dressed differently.

> guess it would be perfectly natural in your world if the
> CNN news looked completely different on a Sony and a
> Thomson, and absolutely unnatural for CNN to complain
> about it

As explained in my previous comment, I specifically quoted the television as an example of "fixed" (as in opposite to "liquid") medium. Any television, whatever the model or brand, is built on the same principle. It has a fixed resolution of only 640*480, and no processor the manipulate data. Actually, it doesn't manipulate data at all, as it simply displays pixel per pixel the analogic signal on its screen. No text or image to arrange, no calculation whatsoever. It's dumb display.

Television and the Web are two different concepts.

If you want to compare television with the Web as something roughly similar, then you have to send your web page the way video is sent to television: as a monolithic picture (and as a serie of 50 monolithic pictures per second for a television). Then, brand or model of computer/browser doesn't matter anymore: you get the very same presentation on anything. But that would be so inefficient, require an awful amount of bandwidth (even with high compression rate), would drastically reduce interactivity, and would be a massive drawback for people with disabilities.

Blinds don't have access to half of what televesion has to offer because there's no pratical way for them to subsitute images to braille or vocal descriptions, nor deaf people can substitute sounds to texts (subtitle is still uncommon in most tv programs), without using unaffordable technologies that are actually inefficient.

> Since its obviously your business idea to be a Mozilla
> advocate in order to convince customers to renovate their
> sites with your "standards compliant" CSS, it must be a
> pain to remember that CSS support in Navigator 4 was
> ridiculous compared to Internet Explorer 4.

Oh, my ideas are not to promote a specific browser in any way, it's pretty much the opposite actually: "the web as a browser-independent network". No wonder such claims are written on almost every page of this site ;). I personaly don't care much what people use to access the web. However, what I care of is to let anyone access the web with the browser that fits the best one's needs and preferences.

Netscape 4 was a bad browser? Dude, I'm the first to claim so! Actually, it was crap, it sucked no end. Good to know it's a dead product, good to know its source code has been dropped in favor of a modern and now standard-compliant base known as Gecko. Great to see how alternative rendering engines, like KHTML, are emerging, being used in products like Apple's Safari, Omniweb and Unix/KDE's Konqueror. Really fun to be able to access the net on those shiny Opera-powered mobile phones. Wireless internet, that kicks ass. And glad to see MS Internet Explorer is, slowly but surely, embracing w3C standards (by improwing its CSS or XML capabilities).


Cedric Malherbe
Comment added on 2004-01-20
Hello, TV isn't 640x480 but something like 476x700, but I congratulate you anyway for such a good demonstration. But I think a lot of people aren't enough open-minded to understand that web is a little like radio : the content is more important than presentation. This last thing is perhaps a reason why main TV channels are becoming unbearable.
Comment added on 2004-01-21
For information, television's resolutions are:

NTSC, PAL-N : 525 lines at 60 Hz (640 x 480)
PAL, SECAM, NTSC-4.43 : 625 lines at 50 Hz (768 x 576)
Comment added on 2006-04-02
"You seem to still fail to understand that the Web is a "liquid" medium, and thus getting a different presentation from a different browser is something absolutely normal."

Well, Cedric, it's been two years now, and most people are still viewing web pages on a PC screen. The fact that web pages - unlike TV brodcasts - don't have a fix pixel width doesn't stop the browser makers from rendering an identical look on a 1024x768 screen, does it? Do you still fail to understand that?

"Moreover, browsers are not required by the W3C to have the same default settings (like margins, paddings and other such behaviors). W3C actually sets "recommendations", not "standards" (for some political and diplomatical reasons). Thus defaults settings may vary from one browser to another. If a webmaster wants to control them, he simply has to overwrite defaults settings with his own (using CSS)."

Exactly. That's why the W3C is a failure as a standards organisation. They expect one failure (the lack of standards for scrollbars, margins, paddings, and other basic features of HTML) to be fixed by another failure (the lack of standards for CSS). Not to mention scripting. The browser makers are responsible for this mess, not the web designers, and web designers are in their full right to favour any browser they please, should they want to.

Regards

Mats Hindhede
Web designer
proffs.nu