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The following are answers to common questions in the Microsoft FrontPage Client Newsgroup:

Designing for Browser and Screen Independence

HTML stands for HyperText Markup Language. It is a markup language, and not a layout language. This means the browser controls how the page will be rendered (look). This plus varying screen resolutions and methods of retrieving web pages means that a good web designer needs to learn about browser differences, and test their creations in two or more browsers.

There are a lot of people who use FrontPage to create web sites, and then notice that their site looks great in Internet Explorer, but does not look good in Netscape Navigator or other browsers. This result is not the fault of FrontPage or that FrontPage 98 designs sites only for Internet Explorer. The result comes from not understanding HTML (the foundation of all web pages).

When you create your web pages you should keep in mind that your design and user interface shows will impact all of your visitors. And those visitors may have images turned off (or use a browser that does not support graphics), may use a browser that doesn’t support scripting languages, and so on.

If you obey some simple rules, and follow some simple guidelines you can be on your way to creating sites that can be viewed and enjoyed by a wide audience.

The following are steps to take to ensure your site can be enjoyed by the most number of users:

  • Avoid using tables nested within tables. While you can nest tables within tables, doing so can cause problems on some browsers.
  • Avoid relying heavily on browser-specific HTML tags such as blink, and marquee (see the table below).
  • Use percentage values for widths as opposed to absolute pixels. When you do use pixel values for tables, try using a width no larger than 580 pixels to accommodate those on 640 x 480 screen resolutions.
  • Ensure the individual cell widths within each table add up to the width of the table.
  • Use ALTernate image tags; they help those who have their images turned off as well as those who use browsers that do not support graphics.
  • Use JavaScript over VBScript since JavaScript is more widely accepted. Don’t create a web site on the basis of JavaScript working as not all browsers work with JavaScript either.
  • Use Standard Fonts for Windows and Macintosh Computers (make sure you specify alternative fonts using the FACE=... option>.

The following table shows which tags are supported or not supported by which version of Netscape Navigator, Internet Explorer, or Web TV (no version history available).  If a given tag is not listed that means that it is supported by all three on all versions; if a given tag has a blank column under the browser, then the browser does not support that tag.

Tag or
Tag Option

Applet Java Applet 2.0+ 3.0+  
Area Image Map 2.0+ 2.0+ Yes
Base Font   1.1+ 2.0+ Yes
BGColor Table 3.0+ 2.0+  
BGProperties Watermark   2.0+  
BG Sound SRC Background Sound   2.0+ Yes
Blink   1.1+    
Caption Table 2.0+ 3.0+  
Class Style Sheets   3.0+  
Col Table   3.0+  
Colgroup Table   3.0+  
Comment <COMMENT>   3.0+ Yes
DFN Definition   3.0+ Yes
Embed   2.0+ 3.0+ Yes
Frame Frames 2.0+ 3.0+ Yes
ID Style Sheets   3.0+ Yes
Iframe Floating Frame   3.0+  
FrameSet Frames 2.0+ 3.0+ Yes
MailTo For forms 2.0+    
Map Image Map 2.0+ 2.0+ Yes
Marquee     2.0+ Yes
MultiCol Table 3.0+    
Nobr No Break 1.1+ 2.0+ Yes
Noframes Frame Set 2.0+ 3.0+ Yes
OnMouseOut   3.0+ 4.0+ Yes
OnMouseOver   3.0+ Limited Yes
Param Java Applet 2.0+ 3.0+  
Script   2.0+ 3.0+ Yes
Spacer White Space 3.0+   Yes
Table   1.1+ 2.0+ Yes
Tbody Table   3.0+  
TD Table 1.1+ 2.0+ Yes
Tfoot Table   3.0+  
TH Table 1.1+ 2.0+ Yes
Thead Table   3.0+  
TR Table 1.1+ 2.0+ Yes
Wbr Word Break 1.1+ 2.0+  

Sources for the above table:


Peter Abraham

Direct Email Marketing with Constant Contact

Dynamic Net, Inc.

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Last updated: Thursday November 16, 2006 18:22 -0500