Netscape 8: The Horror
It was with a sinking heart that I read of the recent arrival of the latest version of Netscape. Great. It just became that much more unlikely that anything beyond the simplest Web page would render as designed. Really, why even bother trying to come up with an ambitious design for a page, let alone an entire site, faced with the current profusion of browsers. It's 1997 all over again!
Designers that actually care about creating good-looking Web pages have no cause for optimism. The Golden Age of design for the Web is now officially over. You missed it? Well, it was that nice, sleepy time when Internet Explorer had such commanding market share that you could simply design for those browsing with it, without looking over your shoulder all the time. Yes, that's rightwe all forgot to thank Microsoft for making our professional lives simpler. But it's too late now to say you're sorry.
First it was Safari, Steve Job's wonderful gift to Mac users, which had its own wild and wacky way of interpreting CSS, among other things. Designing pages that rendered reliably in IE and Safari was always a treat. Then came Firefox, a browsing emperor with no clothes, trumpeted by the media as the next big thing. Am I the only one on the planet who thinks Firefox is mediocre? Beyond the myth of its "security", it renders pages slowly and unreliably. However, the anything-but-Microsoft crowd don't seem bothered by its all too real failings.
And now Netscape 8. I feel like that character in the X-Files episode who keeps saying over and over, "This is not happening, this is not happening." Now we find that installing this wonder of technology subsequently breaks certain aspects of IE's rendering. Get ready for more of this kind of nonsenseyour life as a designer just got harder.
We really don't need new browsers, pitched at us from those with barely veiled agendas that don't include benefits for users or those creating content for the Web. What we need is for Microsoft to do what it does bestcrush the competition and make our life as designers and users simpler and more reliable. So we can design a great-looking page (maybe someday using real fontsbut wait, that's too ambitious) that displays reliably for readers without devoting as much time to hacks and workarounds as the design itself.
Go get 'em, Microsoft.
Latest tips and tutorials