Note: This interview is 6 years old. It was part of a training resource for beginner interactive media students. Though the browser versions has changed, many of the principles discussed are still relevant.
REECE: So if you find something that is not working in Safari, what invariably is it? I mean can you say that or is it just that it could be anything.
JOHN: No. Actually most of the problems stand from a number of bugs in the Internet Explorer. There are standards for HTML and there are standards for CSS style sheets and Internet Explorer doesn’t interpret those standards correctly. [ED: This has improved substantially with the new versions of IE – JP]
I believe it was actually a fall back from the earlier versions of Internet Explorer which had bugs in the early days and the bugs is being maintained to provide continuity.
JOHN: At the moment most web developers use number of what are referred to as “hacks” which you can put into the HTML code and the style sheet code to ensure that the page will display correctly on more browser. So what do you do is, all browsers have faults in them and if you know the faults that are in Safari, you can basically go “well Safari wont actually render these out correctly so lets put the code for IE in here”.
JOHN: And Safari won’t read it but IE will. And vice versa that you can set code up so Safari will read it and IE will ignore it.
REECE: Sometimes it about even font size between Macintosh and Windows
Or could even just the placement, particularly when your using tables it kind of renders that differently, and maybe its juggling a little bit to get it somewhere in the middle, rather than the level of the problem you’re confronting as developer.
JOHN: I think that one of the things that, when building a page in HTML, you have to remain aware that you are not going to get your design to look exactly the way you want and this is the difficulty that designers often have, specially when they comes from the print field, are very used to having their designs appear exactly the way they designed it when it’s published. Right down into the individual colours. This just doesn’t work with HTML, there is problem with the display of colours on different computers, there’s the problem with the font size of the different computers and there is a problem with rendering of the page layout. So you have to get used to the idea of building a page that is flexible. It does change, it does resize, it may be displayed on the computer that has a window size going from 640 pixels wide to 1200 pixels wide. So some people build the pages so they stretch across the screen. Some people do them as a thin column. Your viewing environment is dynamic and it changes and your audience changes. You just have to remain to be aware of that and don’t get fixated on the design appearing exactly the same on any given computer.