Feeling like a 2nd class citizen

Derek Broughton news at pointerstop.ca
Thu Nov 29 13:18:57 UTC 2007

Sylviane et Perry White wrote:

> Derek, do you mean a site will format the data differently for different
> browsers, but if that site is tricked into beliving it is sending to
> another browser, the result may be better?

Exactly.  It's very common for the javascript in a web page to begin with
something like:

if (some-test-that-shows-I'm-running-IE) {
} else {

The "else" part of that statement tends to change: sometimes it just assumes
that anything that isn't IE works like Netscape, which is usually a safe
bet (but not always).  Other times it checks if it's actually Netscape, and
if not might just refuse to work at all.

> Seriously you tried that, declaring your browser is as  IE 11.3  (the only
> one of its kind, I guess), with better results as when declaring it as
> Konk?

Sure.  The test (which I didn't actually put in the code above, because I no
longer ever use it) checks the "user-agent" strings the browsers report,
and commonly needs to know if you're running IE whether it's version 4, 5,
or 6+ (and presumably we'll start seeing stuff written to specifically use
features of 7, now).  So if you just lie and tell it you're running the
uber-IE, it's always going to assume it's got the latest and greatest IE
features.  I don't find identifying as IE - any version - terribly useful
on most sites, because the script then starts trying to do things that no
sane browser _can_ do.

>> Why not adapt a parallel strategy and write to those responsible for
>> the websites in question? I have found that most websites, large and
>> small, are in fact willing to make the necessary changes once enough
>> people ask them to.

> I would consider that strategy If I were certain the problem comes from
> them and not from me, but I'm way to ignorant.
> For example when I install some codecs and then Firefox is able to display
> a video but not Konq, can I blame the website or did I just fail to make
> Konq aware of this codec?

I'd say that's _always_ the coder's problem.  Somebody sent me a link the
other day to a Yahoo site that wouldn't display in either Konqueror or
Firefox - but it quite clearly told me what was missing from the
configurations.  Since I have never needed those plugins before, I just
waited until I was in the office and used IE :-)  but I'm sure I could have
followed the instructions and got Firefox working.  So if a site fails to
work under your favorite browser, whatever that is - and doesn't at least
tell you _why_ , tell the site administrator.  If enough people start doing
that, they _will_ fix it.

> Another example is when a site appears to have different codings for the
> "background" page and some text it displays in an "inner window".
> By changing the coding I can get the correct representation of the french
> accentuated characters on the outer or inner parts, but not both together.
> (Now I am sorry I missed the opportunity to mark that link and look it up
> under M$)

I'd _definitely_ complain about that - that's almost always because those of
us building websites in English don't have enough internationalized test
data.  I got a complaint yesterday that a page was displaying a square box
instead of an e-acute, and when I checked my data it was the only accented
character on the whole database.  Obviously, since I'm dealing with
French-Canadian names, I should expect to encounter a few!

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