HTML Styles and Browsers

I always try to write HTML so that it can be sensibly viewed on text-only browsers such as Lynx. Yes, I scatter colours, fonts and the odd image around to make life more interesting for those with flashier browsers, but I try to ensure that no information is contained in these features. Taken with my dislike of frames, this should mean that the pages can be viewed by any browser which discards unknown tags.

Sadly, my bookshelf search uses tables for layout tweaks, which Lynx will report as bad HTML before displaying them more than adequately, Arena has all sorts of problems with and messes up the form, and Grail will just curl up and die at. It doesn't work properly with Internet Explorer either, because IE handles forms so badly. We know how to work around this one, but in this case, I haven't done so. Tough. If you're having problems with some other browser, I would appreciate knowing.

Some people wonder why text-only web browsers should be supported. I know of three good reasons:

  1. Because people may choose to use technology which is best suited to text-only display. Until recently, this included me (monochrome laptop running Linux with no X server), so I am very sympathetic to this viewpoint. The thought of a web browser on a plam-top/PDA may sound ridiculous, until you consider the possibility of a text-only version. If the information you require is textual, you should be able to access it in a textual manner.
  2. For bandwidth purposes. Be nice to people with slow connections, and every one else, by minimising the amount of graphical traffic on the networks.
  3. Because people may be using text-only technology for reasons other than choice. Braille "displays" exist, and should, in conjunction with a textual browser, allow access to the web.
The Campaign for a Non-Browser Specific WWW has more information. It would wrong of me to label my pages with one of their "Best Viewed With Any Browser" logos when I know it's not true, but, in principle, I support the sentiment.