Re: Basic Browser Requirements?

From: ncarroll (
Date: Fri Aug 11 2000 - 14:50:43 PDT

Ah, hah! Perfect timing, I just dashed off the KISS


Subject: Thoughts on OHS-EC user groups and browser compatibilty.

5 potential user groups for the OHS-EC (email client):

1. Potential OSS developers. While many of these use Lynx or other
text-based browsers as their main browser, I believe most have a copy of
a 4.x+ browser lying around by now. The Linux Documentation Project took
a shellacking a year ago for introducing CSS that was not 3.0
compatible, and pulled down the CSS the next morning. I believe by now
most Linux users have caved in and download a newer browser.

They have the savvy to know that if you want to code for a GUI browser,
you need to have a GUI broswer. (Well, most of them will understand
that.) So they if they buy in to the development process, the 16mb
download shouldn't be too big a hurdle. (If there was a way we could
offer faster, kinder downloads off the BI web site that might be nice).

Needless to say(?) the EC has to be NS compatible if Linux boxes are
going to run it.

2. Business users. They go with the corporate sell-in, and the decisions
are made for them by CTOs and IT managers, thus they are generally up to
IE5 and NS4.72 already.

3. Newbies. Most of them have pretty new computers, which means 4.0+ NS
or IE.

4. AOL users. Making an interface AOL-compatible is a PITA. For
ecommerce sites I make some attempt to accommodate them, since they have
money like anyone else.

However, I doubt they would make much attempt to use OHS. The day they
do, it will be beause AOL pushes it on them ... at which point
compatiblity issues would have been resolved between OSS people and AOL

5. Experienced PC/Mac users. This is the group that concerns me most. In
terms of word-of-mouth distribution, the OHS may one day be relying on
this group to spread OHS from the hacker community to the masses. Their
"buy-in" could be quite important.

They have been using PCs 10-15 years. They have set ways of doing
things, and legacy software they don't like to give up -- including 3.02
NS and IE. Newbies will simply follow orders (or panic) if told to
download the latest browser. Experienced users won't; they regard such
commands as bullying. If JavaScript is used, it might be worth
considering NS and IE 3.02 and Opera 3 browser compatiblity. Of course
that would also knock out HTML 4.

At the same time, average modem speed for this group is rising fairly
fast. The client-side savings in download time that looked so tempting a
few years ago is not so important at 56kbs and up. Server-side tools
like PHP might do the job as handily with less compatibility conflicts,
especially since the OHS-EC is likely to be light on graphics.

Anyway ... groups 2 and 3 are compatible now. Group 4 won't understand
the OHS without AOL help.

At the moment it's all about groups 1 and 5.


Source of opinions on groupings: I track/crunch a lot of server logs.
Analyst figures like "Only 2.74% of users have 3.x browsers" collapse
pretty quick when one views sites where 26% of the visitors use legacy
versions of Opera or Mozilla.


Nicholas Carroll Email: Alternate: ______________________________________________________

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