Web Site Development Aids &
Some Browser Problems

Any browser

Contents


Introduction

This page is devoted to discussion of various aids to web site development that I have personal experience of using. I also draw attention to one or two minor browser problems which I have not seen mentioned elsewhere.


ISP

My ISP is Nildram Ltd., of Aylesbury, Buckinghamshire, UK. This section will obviously be of interest mainly to people in UK who are considering changing their ISP or who don't yet have one, although I understand they now also operate in USA - check their web site for latest details.

I originally chose Nildram for three reasons:

  1. At the time they were one of the few straightforward ISP's who could be accessed from Luton by a local phone call;
  2. They were, and as far as I know still are, as cheap as any available locally who offer a full service;
  3. They were recommended by my daughter, who was already using them

I have since found that they are indeed very good. I have had very few problems, and those have been approached very courteously and efficiently by Nildram staff. They provide a 24 hour, 7 days a week emergency service. They are continually improving their equipment, so it is rare to have significant problems in logging on or slow responses caused by their equipment being overloaded. In short, I am very satisfied with them and would recommend them to anyone in the areas they serve who is looking for email, www access, ftp, telnet, web space and/or domain name registration.

What they do not provide is large scale additional information services such as are supplied (at a significant cost) by the likes of Compuserve and AOL. If that is what you want and are prepared to pay for, then look elsewhere. Personally, I find the WWW provides far more (free) interesting information sites than I have time to look at.


Guest Book

I also had a guest book provided by Lpage, again in return for an advertisement. It also, a little earlier, disappeared without notice, possibly leaving some messages unread.


Icons and Other Graphics

I must confess to having copied a few graphics from other sites initially, but I have now replaced them with legitimate material. A great help in doing this has been The Icon Depot, which provides (or did when I last looked some time ago) a big and varied library of free icons and other smallish graphics free of charge to personal web sites, requesting only a proper acknowledgement that their material has been used. Commercial sites are expected to pay for the material, which seems only fair and reasonable. Thoroughly recommended.

I understand there is another collection of this type at http://www.bsdi.com/icons, although I haven't tried it yet.

The same site (I'm told) has links to a vast range of resources such as search engines, encyclopædias, mailing lists, training, ftp archives, technical support, etc., etc., at http://www.bsdi.com/points-of-interest.html, although again I haven't tried it yet.


HTML tags and web page design principles

Kevin Werbach's home pages include a good guide to HTML and explain a good set of principles to how to go about designing a web site that people will want to come back to. This site has moved to this new address from the one I listed earlier.

15 errors to avoid in designing your web page.

The Campaign for a non-browser specific www gives much advice on the same topic, especially how to enable all surfers to be able to view your page. It also provides a selection of logos (like that I use near the top of this page) you can use to show your support for the campaign.


Some browser problems

In designing and testing my web pages with a variety of browsers, old and new, I have come across a couple of unexpected problems with two popular browsers, including both older and recent versions. Both concern the use of other tags within headers.

Internet Explorer has a problem if you try to change the font within a header. I had a font change in the main header of my home page designed to show the header in red with the rest of the page black on white. Internet Explorer, but not Netscape or Opera, ignored the closing </FONT> tag, and so rendered the entire page as red on white, giving some visitors problems with legibility. The solution in this case was simply to put the opening and closing FONT tags outside the header tags instead of inside, but this means there is no way to have a change of font applying to just a part of a header. A definite minus point for IE compared to other browsers.

A somewhat similar, but less important, problem arises with Opera (at least versions 5 and 6) in relation to the combination of centering and header tags. Modern browsers can all happily use either the CENTER tag or the ALIGN=CENTER attribute within a header tag, so either can be used to centre a header. However, I understand that some old browsers can understand only the former and others only the latter, so I always use both. However, if the <CENTER> tag is put within the header, Opera ignores both the header and the centering, and displays the text as left aligned normal text! Again, this is solved by putting the header opening and closing tags between the <CENTER> and </CENTER> tags. Neither IE nor Netscape has this problem.


Browser compatibility statement

I believe web pages should be accessible to all browsers, rather than surfers being browbeaten into switching to some particular browser to see a page. (How many people would be happy if popular TV programmes could only be watched with the latest model of one particular make of TV set?). I am currently going through this site trying to achieve this as far as possible, but I do not have any means of testing it with all the dozens of browsers out there. When I think I have managed it with a page I'll include this paragraph at the end and a suitable logo at the top. If you have trouble viewing any page on this site, especially a page including this paragraph, please
let me know), and tell me what browser (name and version) and what operating system you are using, so I can try to do something about it. Thanks.


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This page last updated 30th June 2004