The "Internet Explorer" problem
If you have reached this site with the "Microsoft Internet Explorer", you might have encountered a rather unusual layout. Simple reason: It does not fully understand the standard, which describes a "layout language" for the WWW. This "layout language" is called CSS, Cascading Style Sheets. If you visit this site with Mozilla, Firefox, K-Meleon, Opera, Konqueror, Galeon, or one of the modern Mac browsers instead, you will see a much better representation.
Since the "Internet Explorer" is standard equipment on any Windows computer, without any need for a user decision, it is the most popular browser, Most webpages are written around the bugs of its CSS implementation. That's a fascinating demonstration of power: Microsoft can save the costs for fixing half-a-decade-old bugs, because hundredthousands of people around the globe write around them.
I admit it: With access to a Windows computer, I would do the same. And I've seriously considered to hook up an old computer to my little Intranet, install Windows, just for running the IE and check the workarounds. But this would have meant, to buy Windows just for working around the bugs of it, and sorry, that's one step too far. (I don't run stolen software. Call me conservative or old-fashioned, but that's how I want it to be.)
Life is too short for bad browsers!
Predicting the behaviour of IE without access to it has turned out to be impossible. Within the time, that I have wasted on attempts, to write an IE-bugs-compatible layout, I could have added at least two or three pages to my Shasta Route article, just as an example. Decision: I will bother with content instead, and use the following policy:
- I will write my HTML and CSS in compliance to the WWW standards, allowing predictable display in any modern browser.
- I will try to use layout elements, which degrade gracefully in old or buggy browsers, allowing any user full access to the content in a logical (but perhaps not pretty) arrangement.
- I will try to hide CSS elements from browsers of the 1990s (like Netscape 4), which break these, but give them a little bit of layout for a logical structure at least.
- I will do some checks with a textmode browser, in order to get an idea, how a braille line might display this site. This isn't perfect, but I don't own a braille line and can't read braille.
If there is any problem with accessing the content of this site with any kind of device, regardless wether it is a stone-age browser, a portable microcomputer, a braille line, a screenreader, or whatever – please drop me a note, and I'll try to fix it. Universal accessibility is the basic principle of the WWW.
Obeying your configuration
I don't try to decide, what's good for you. This site displays text with the size, that you have configured in your browser. As well, it displays English or German according to the preferences, that you have configured. One little exception: If your browser does not transmit any configured preference, I'll let the server send English. To my judgement, the "406" error with selection possibility, which is supposed to be transmitted by the Apache Webserver in that case, is not user-friendly. For allowing you to override my automatic, I'll add a switch to every page, which is available in more than one language.