About two weeks ago, we started on an effort to rebuild the entire site so that it is viewable in a number of different browsers. A couple people had complained that the spacing and layout of the pages looked drastically different in Netscape, Mozilla, and in different versions of Internet Explorer, such as the Mac version. Until this point, the majority of our testing of this site had been through IE6 under Windows XP only. Considering that Internet Explorer makes up between 90% – 95% of all browser usage out there as of a study published this month, an all-IE approach seemed reasonable.

We could have simply slapped on a logo that says "Best Viewed in IE" with a link to the Microsoft web site, but that didn’t seem quite right. In fact, there is a web site out there that specifically campaigns against such practices: The Viewable with Any Browser site. We didn’t go as far as to try to get approved by this Any Browser campaign. That would have required that we use a lowest-common-denominator approach to building this site. However, we did decide that we should at least try to be compliant with HTML 4.01, which is supported by a large number of browsers.

As we started to look into HTML 4.01 compliance, we found that the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) actually recommends that people comply with XHTML 1.1. XHTML began as a stricter standard than HTML 4.01 that was completely backwards compatible — anything that is valid XHTML is also valid HTML 4.01. There are a few modifications from XHTML 1.0 to XHTML 1.1. There is an XHTML 2.0, but it is not complete, and it is no longer compatible with HTML 4.01.

Over the past two weeks, we rebuilt the pages so that they would validate with the W3C Markup Validation Service. The effort is just about complete, with only the dynamically generated pages in the wishlist and comments sections remaining. As a result of this compliance effort, this site should now look pretty close to correct with the following browsers:

  • Any version of IE above version 5 (Mac or Windows)
  • Netscape version 6 and above
  • Any browser built on Mozilla version 1 and above
  • Opera (though we have not tested this browser)

If you find pages that look strange in your browser, and you think your browser is one of the ones supported, drop us a note and we’ll look into fixing the problem.