Whining and More Whining

Album Cover: Icky Thump

"I'm gettin' hard on myself, sittin' in my easy chair."
White Stripes / 300 M.P.H. Torrential Outpour Blues

Posted on February 06, 2003 10:02 AM in Browsers
Warning: This blog entry was written two or more years ago. Therefore, it may contain broken links, out-dated or misleading content, or information that is just plain wrong. Please read on with caution.

There is an interesting article today at C|Net that talks about Opera complaining about MSN.com. Apparently MSN uses browser sniffing to send different browsers different style sheets, and the style sheet they have been serving Opera 7 renders terribly in the browser. Opera claims that MSN's site loads perfectly in Opera 7 when the Internet Explorer 6 style sheet is used.

I think Opera has good reason to complain about this issue, but the article makes them sound almost whiny: "We get worse reviews from testers and angry users. It hurts us." There is a truth untold here, though. I just installed Opera 7 a few days ago and was amazed to see that the User Agent string they send by default mimics that of MSIE 6.0. So if you actually want pages to render that were either designed especially for Opera 7 or contain certain Opera 7 specific elements, you have to switch that option in your preferences so the User Agent truthfully identifies itself. Seems to me they should put a little more faith in their browser if they expect others to. Maybe MSN realized this (although I doubt it) and figured most Opera 7 users would be sent the IE 6.0 style sheet anyway. Then again, based on some preliminary testing I've done, I'm still not convinced that Opera 7's UA switches even work.

A member of the Web Standards Project, Steve Champeon, said that "MSN is still living in a 1998 world of browser-specific workarounds." My question is, who isn't? I have been trying to write valid code on all my new pages and use CSS whenever possible, and it has only led to headaches and more headaches. The two browsers that I care about the most, IE and Mozilla, still disagree on how things are rendered. This leads me back to using invalid tricks and less CSS so that my pages look similar in both browsers. I know the Web Standards Project's motive is to leave bad browsers in the dust and force people to upgrade, but upgrade to what? There still isn't a browser that I know of that does what it's supposed to in all cases. If anyone can prove me wrong, I would love to hear about it.

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