H-Net: Humanities and Social Sciences Online

Browser Upgrade?

Here is a list of standards-compliant browsers for your system. All are FREE.

Internet Explorer 5 +

Netscape 7


Opera 6 +

Web Standards

At H-Net, we will be moving to adopt web standards for our primary designs. For years, "browser wars" made things very difficult for web designers because competing browsers often developed different (and sometimes proprietary) elements and HTML tags. HTML--a mark-up language originally designed to help structure and deliver scientific papers online-- has been twisted, stretched, and distorted by the needs of designers and browsers to create more startling effects and pleasing designs. Designers often have had to create several versions of the same site to keep a consistent design in different browsers, and to create good looking designs, they often have had to make heavily tagged pages--using nested tables and blank images--and use images sliced into many pieces--all design techniques that take a heavy toll on servers and bandwidth.

However, within the last few years, the leading browsers.along with many smaller competitors.have joined forces to provide more consistent support for HTML 4, XHTML 1, CSS, ECMAScript (the standard version of JavaScript), and the DOM. While this support is not entirely consistent (particularly when it comes to JavaScript), the promise of browser developers following the recommendations of the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) is great news for web designers (and Internet users).

Using Web Standards, designers and programmers can use HTML (or XHTML) to control primarily the structural elements of a page while using Cascading Style Sheets to control the appearance of the page. Focusing on web standards can help us to

  • Significantly reduce development and design time (and costs);

  • Significantly reduce maintenance time and costs;

  • Significantly reduce sever load and bandwidth;

  • Significantly reduce the costs and time of redesigning sites;

  • Create more accessible design and sites that comply with accessibility laws without sacrificing the look and performance;

  • Create more flexible designs and sites that support a number of browsers and platforms, including TV, cell phones, and PDAs.

  • Create print versions of sites that can be designed for the user;

  • Ensure forward compatibility.

To find out more about Web Standards please visit the World Wide Web Consotium (W3C) www.w3.org and the Web Standards Project www.webstandards.org. We hope that you will join us in supporting this initiative. In doing so, we do not mean to imply that you must upgrade or use Microsoft, Netscape, Opera or other suggested browsers, but by being informed and focusing on the development of the standards, we hope to make the web accessible for a wide variety of users.