Thoughts on old browsers

Snook-45X64.jpgPosted by Jonathan Snook
I've been thinking about this for a long time and while I thought I had a solid opinion on the matter, I find myself waffling on the issue. Who cares about older browsers? If you haven't done so, I highly recommend cracking out a copy of Firefox 1. Start bouncing around to a few sites and check out what's broken. Sure, most stuff is fine but you'd probably be surprised at what's broken. What about Firefox 2? I have more people using this old version of Firefox than I do of all Opera users put together. These are browsers that I don't check my site in any more. In a way, it's like they don't even exist.
As web browsers have progressed, we've increasingly gotten to the point where we just ignore old browsers like they don't exist. No more testing, no more hacks, no more nothing. Who knows what it looks like?
Is it good, is it bad? Does it even matter?
My initial stance was that every browser mattered. It doesn't matter if they're coming in with Netspace 1.0 or Internet Explorer 3. These people are armed with a browser and they deserve content. No, they don't get any CSS, or maybe a limited amount. Only the recent browsers get the good stuff.
We draw a line in the sand that says, "You popular browsers, stand over here. Everybody else, just be happy you got content."
More specifically, a base style sheet would declare some default font styles but no float or other layout tricks. Just linear content. This default would look decent in any browser, no matter from what era. It makes a great print style sheet, too.
Then, for those cool, fancy browsers that we know and like, we give them the good stuff. The whole enchilada. Click here to read more of Jonathan's post.

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