Netscape 4 , the undead cœlecanth

We continue to receive complaint after complaint of the NUblog's incompatibility with the wicked witch of the Web, Netscape 4.

As we have explained over and over again (so often that we won't even bother giving you links), we redesigned the NUblog on three different occasions to work around Netscape 4's inability to render standard HTML. This, quite simply, was improper, not to mention too much work. Such jiggery-pokery errantly reverses the master–slave relationship between computer and human.

Since the dawn of the 21st century, we have taken no special actions to accommodate Netscape 4, nor will we ever do so again under any circumstances. We write standards-compliant code; any noncompliance is an accidental oversight, and we always appreciate having such lacunæ dispassionately pointed out.

Netscape 4 cannot interpret standard HTML or stylesheets, or, what is far worse, it disastrously misinterprets them. The big issue, though, is character entities. We insist on using proper quotation marks and dashes, which gum up the works for Netscape 4. Actually, numeric entities work fine; it's literal entities that choke Netscape. And our current authoring tool, BBEdit Tidy, produces only literal entities, and goes so far as to ethnically cleanse numeric entities we type in ourselves. (There are a dozen possible settings in Tidy, and we have tested them all. If it doesn't output literal entities, it outputs Windows-specific numeric entities rather than Unicode numbers.)

Every other browser on earth – Lynx, Explorer, Opera, and iCab among them – can understand literal entities. In our Web logs (two words, not one), we can prove that only 2.7% of visitors are using Netscape 4. On every single platform on which Netscape 4 runs, including Macintosh 68K (try iCab), standards-compliant alternatives are available. If you are stuck with a public terminal that runs Netscape 4, well, you are already in way too bad a shape for us to help you, and even our most heroic measures would be for nought.

We can merely “suggest” that “Netscape 4 users – what few of them there are – ‘get with the program.’ ”

Posted on 2001-05-21