C32 class loco, flat truck and guard's van

Welcome to the Mysteries of the Browsers.

Let me share with you some of my findings.

You say Tomayto, I say Tomarto.


While building this website I came across some annoying habits of Netscape and Internet Explorer that I haven't seen written in any tutorial as yet. I'm running Windows 95, Netscape Navigator 4.08 and IE 4.0. with Netscape set as the default browser. (I hope I'm not comparing chalk with cheese but I got the impression these versions were broadly similar. Now I love 'William Fences' and his 'MegaSoft' as much as the next person but I have to say IE 4.0 has the edge over Netscape 4.08, in my opinion anyway.)

  1. When I started this website I knew nothing about the Web or HTML. I bought a number of Idiots' guides for Dummies and luckily various Computer Magazines came with free CDs on the cover. I also picked up some CDs that specialised in useful Web information and software. In the CDs were all sorts of goodies and in particular some excellent tutorials by Joe Barta, and Raphael Pirker. Thank you fellas, for sharing your knowledge with the rest of us. Being old fashioned I tried to transfer these tutorials on to old technology (paper). This is where I found the first difference between NS and IE. My printer is an old Epson stylus 400 with an ESCP2 driver. These tutorials are typically several paragraphs of words interspersed with small HTML or Javascript program code listings. IE prints out exactly what you see on the screen but Netscape only prints out the words and skips over the program code listings completely. Very annoying!

  2. Still on printing. If the page your printing contains text and large images, Netscape shows some intelligence but IE shows none. If the text prints on 3/4 of the page and then a half page image is to be printed, Netscape checks how much of the paper page is left and compares it to the size of the image. If the image wont fit, Netscape goes to a new page. Unfortunately, IE just continues printing and puts half the image at the bottom of one page and the other half on the top of the next page. Very annoying!

  3. When coding in frames, you have the ability to turn off the scrollbars if, for some reason, you dont want the viewer to be able to scroll or you just want more pixels available on the screen. This is where HTML seems to have gone off on the wrong track. The word to turn the scrollbars off is not "Scrollbars Off" but "Scrolling Off". Yes you've guessed it, in Netscape, not only does it turn the scrollbars off but it also turns the scrolling off as well, so that the page programmer, that's me, cant scroll the frame either. Madness! IE on the other hand is more logical, in that you can turn off the scrollbars but leaving the scrolling on for the page programmer to use when necessary. Unfortunately they had to use the same word "Scrolling off" for compatibility purposes. It's very handy to be able to remove just the scrollbars while leaving the scrolling on. They can waste a lot of space on the screen, especially when you're trying to fit three frames across a 640 by 480 screen.

  4. Still on frames. When setting three frames across the screen the usual method is to put 33.3%,33.3%,*. Now you'd expect the * to take up the other 33.3% and make the three frames identical. IE does produce three identical frames but Netscape does not. The 33.3% ones are not equal and the * is wider than both of them.

  5. Doc links are useful to be able to scroll instantly to any point on a large page. They are used on just about every website. The idea is that you put a 'Name anchor' tag at any point in the large page you want to scroll to and reference it with a Doc link in some other page or in a list at the top of the large page. Great for jumping to a specific photo in a large gallery. Now you'd think that both NS and IE could get this simple thing right wouldn't you. All they have to do is jump to a specific 'Name anchor' tag and start from there. Well IE works ok but NS does not. I have a large number of photos, all the same size, in a vertical column, with the Fig. number along side, about half way down each photo. The HTML I've used is the following:-

    <A NAME="fig1"></A>
    <IMG SRC="c19m1c.jpg" height=120 width=180 VSPACE=1 HSPACE=0 ALIGN=left ALT="Z19">
    <BR><BR><BR><BR>
    &#160;&#171;<BR>
    &#160;1<BR>
    <BR CLEAR="all">

    <A NAME="fig2"></A>
    <IMG SRC="c26.jpg" height=120 width=180 VSPACE=1 HSPACE=0 ALIGN="left" ALT="Z26">
    <BR><BR><BR><BR>
    &#160;&#171;<BR>
    &#160;2<BR>
    <BR CLEAR="all">


    Which produces the correct output when doc-linking to fig1 in IE 4.0 thus:-

    Z19



     «
     1

     
    Z26



     «
     2


    But in Netscape 4.08, the output looks like this:-

    Z26

    It seems that in Netscape, the doc link is ignoring the NAME anchor tag and starting on the first alphabetical character it finds after the NAME anchor tag.
    I had to modify the HTML to fix this annoying trait thus:-

    <A NAME="fig1"></A>
    <IMG SRC="c19m1c.jpg" height=120 width=180 VSPACE=1 HSPACE=0 ALIGN=left ALT="Z19">
    &#160;
    <BR><BR><BR><BR>
    &#160;&#171<BR>
    &#160;1<BR>
    <BR CLEAR="all">

  6. Both of these browsers allow the page programmer to resize any images to whatever is required for the page layout but the resulting images are not the same. If you tell IE 4.0 to resize a 500 x 200 image to 180 x 110 you get exactly that, an image on the screen that is exactly 180pixels x 110pixels. When you tell Netscape 4.08 to do the same thing it resizes to the nearest pixel number which gives the best image rendition. Hence Netscape will give good quality images which are not the right size while Internet Explorer will give images exactly the right size but of poorer quality. It's a pity both browsers dont do the same thing and let a HTML sub instruction handle which of these compromises you want to use.

  7. As you probably noticed the graphic at the top of my homepage is animated. IE runs the animation the instant you see it but Netscape doesn't run it until the page is completely loaded. Also when the animation is running, IE runs it from the memory where as Netscape keeps accessing the disc. Both of these are plusses for IE, however the animation runs about 50% faster in Netscape than in IE. This is a plus for Netscape. However, in IE, the animation seems to be smoother. This is a plus for IE.

  8. IE doesn't show a page until it is finished loading it. Netscape tends to show the page before it is finished loading. Now this might seem like a good idea but at times it's not. If a menu turns up and you select something further down the page that hasn't loaded yet, Netscape will freeze as it has nowhere to jump to, but worse, the page stops loading and you'll never be able to jump.

  9. If you use javascript to make a new window of a particular size using the following code :-

    <A HREF="noscrip1.htm" ONCLICK="window.open('figs640y.htm#fig1', 'NewWin', 'scrollbars=1, toolbar=0, status=0, menubar=0, resizable=0, location=0, directories=0, width=635, height=420');return false;" >Open Window</A>

    Netscape will open a full size window with just the control border around it and take absolutely no notice of the width and height numbers when running in 640x480 or 800x600. IE on the other hand opens a window of the correct size but puts it on the screen where ever it feels like it, sometimes even half off the screen so that you have to grab the top bar and pull it back onto the screen just to get at the closing X on 640x480 but its ok on 800x600. Adding fullscreen=1 will force IE to open a fullsize screen but with no border whatever and no closing X. If you put fullscreen=1 in the list before scrollbars=1 then you get a fullscreen window with no scrollbars but if you reverse the positions in the list then you do. It does this on 640x480 and 800x600. Incredibly annoying and frustrating.


Like to see more?   Try my  Netscape 6 versus Netscape 4 page.
 
 
  ©  Gary Yates   Locofonic Recordings Australia  
This page first written 18-8-1999 last updated 25-7-2002.
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