Site updates

Ok, I did some updating today. I was looking at my template, and noticed that it used tables for layout. Tables are designed for holding tabular data, not for layout. So I changed it to CSS. The only real difference is that the gray sidebar doesn’t extend all the way down to the bottom now, only enough to contain all the links in that box. After that, the main content area spreads wider, so it’ll make my page a little shorter (height-wise), and there will be less wasted space if you’re reading stuff toward the bottom of the page. I changed all my links that open in new windows too. I’ve decided that if people want to stay at my site, they will. External links are now using rel=”external”, the XHTML standard. I don’t know of any browsers that currently support this, but the more pages that use it, the faster browsers will have to add support for it. So if you want to open something in a new window, you’ll have to do so manually for now.

I also added a Firefox logo to the corner. By no means am I saying that you have to use Firefox to view my stuff. However, IE has utterly awful support of large chunks of even CSS1, despite claiming to fully support it. And that’s not even getting into IE’s security issues. Opera seems to be halfway between IE and Mozilla. It chooses IE’s non-standard route sometimes, in order to go with usability. It’s nice now, but it’s still providing a means for people not to use the standards, which are designed around usability. It’s also closed-source adware. If you have two programs that do the same thing, but one is free and one isn’t, which one would you pick? I just can’t justify spending $40 when there is equivalent (or better, depending on your preferences) software available for free.

I chose the Take back the web logo for a reason. I use Firefox and encourage standards-compliance because it leads to a nice uniform experience. Authors don’t have to code for 10 different browsers. It shows up properly everywhere, whether the user is on a PC or Mac or phone or PDA or some sort of handicapped-access device. A standards-compliant browser runs into some issues when proprietary (usually Win/IE-specific code) is encountered. Many people see it as a problem with Firefox when a site doesn’t work, since it does work in IE. However, if you looked at it with more than just two browsers, you’d most likely see that it works in IE, but nothing else. Often not even Mac/IE, just Win/IE. People say that Firefox should accomodate IE code to gain a userbase. However, supporting IE’s code gives MS (the sole ruler over their MSHTML “standard”) more power, and less incentive for authors to use standard code. Because of Microsoft’s standard methods, it is simply impossible for any outside party to mimic IE’s behavior exactly. No matter how much time was spent trying to copy IE, it would never work exactly the same. Also note that Microsoft is a contributing member of the W3C. They help create these rules that they (and many webmasters) ignore. If IE doesn’t support standard code, it’s due to bad programming by MS. That fact inspires even more confidence in using Microsoft’s “standard” for HTML, right? Depending on what your website does and where you’re located, using IE-only code may even be in violation of accessibility laws, if you need some good monetary incentive to update things.

If you’re interested in making your site standards-compliant, check out W3C’s Validator. It will look at your pages and tell you what’s wrong. The errors aren’t always the easiest to decipher, but it will tell you if it’s correct or not. MozillaZine’s Web Development / Evangelism Forum can also provide help on figuring out errors, or converting code. Note that these are just supporters of Mozilla’s goals who want to see a standardized web, so they may not have every answer or be able to help you instantly. But the collective knowledge there is pretty impressive.

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