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Great CSS Design

February 29

I just haven't had time to cruise for new and inspiring work recently, which is a shame because there is some absolutely fantastic standards-compliant work showing up these days.

These have been pretty well covered elsewhere, but regardless, here's a good-sized list of some of the work I've been enjoying lately. Hats off to each of you!

Fish Marketing
A clever theme carried through to logical conclusion (Freshness, anyone?). The bros. Fish have built a low-in-navigation, high-in-concept instant classic.
WDDG? Standards Compliance? Can it be? It can, and oh is it good. (Don't miss the tanks in the footer...)
Serco TransArctic Expedition
No stereotypical snow and ice theme here, designer Damien du Toit has built an incredible site to chronicle an incredible voyage. Damien's tech notes include a brief and tantalizing mention of live updates during the trip (which started on Thursday if all went according to plan).
Pixel-fresh titles, theme switching, and a great set of work. Australian Kirk Bentley's portfolio site cranks up the lickability factor. Mmm, orange.
Design Dojo
Fellow Canadian Sam Royama's great portfolio/weblog. Simply elegant, with great detail. Come back Sam, we miss you.
Fellow Canada-lover Greg Storey's classy, and safe weblog. The recent redesign is a brilliant fit; the light, white space enriched header floating above the grounded content is one of the more clever visual metaphors I've seen in a while. Bravo!
The Man in Blue
A strong showing by Aussie Cam Adams. Smooth background tiling, and unrelenting blue (just call me biased). Nice attention to content design on the post pages, something that gets overlooked a little too often.
Adobe. Macromedia. Quark.
That's a smokin' trifecta.
PixelTable (or {pxl>table}, or whatever those crazy artist types are doing with punctuation these days)
C'mon. It's a Carole Guevin production. It's good. Mm-hmm.
Firewheel Design
Texan Josh Williams' day job. (also see his YellowLane and IconBuffet). Josh has a knack for well-contrasting colour schemes, beautiful ligatures, and wildly lush and imaginative illustration and icon work. A true inspiration.

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Notebook Ergonomics, Usability

February 26

Using a notebook as my primary system is proving great for keeping everything I need with me at home or at the office. (Yes, the infamous iBook, though I don't expect that to hold true much longer.)

But the past two months of this are taking their toll. Placing a notebook on a desk and then hunching over the small screen all day is a quick way to a stiff neck; doing so day after day is a quick path to long term disability. I'm willing to spend the pennies now to avoid the corrective dollars later, so I went out and bought an iCurve notebook stand and a Logitech keyboard. Skirting around Apple's generally more expensive hardware, I picked up a PC/Mac compatible USB cheapie keyboard. Smart.

Well, not so fast. Within 10 minutes, I had re-packaged the keyboard and was on my way back to the store. The problem was simple, but it was enough: my new keyboard was Mac-compatible, but it was designed for Windows. Instead of doing the logical thing and mapping the keys to the proper Mac spatial configuration, Logitech's rock star product designer tried to logically map the Mac keys to the Windows equivalents. Command and Option were reversed.

It's the little things that make all the difference, and though the included CD would most likely allow me to re-map them (and the others that were mapped incorrectly), I opted to pay the extra thirty dollars for an Apple Pro keyboard over spending the rest of my morning futzing with the configuration.

Paying double the price for subtle usability improvements: I must be a genuine Mac user now!

(For the curious: yes, the new setup is making a big difference for most work, especially typing. I'm still hunching when working in Photoshop though, so the screen is just too small. You win some, you lose some.)

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Side-stepping IE

February 25

I've explored the MOSe (Mozilla/Safari/Opera enhancement) concept twice in the past: MOSe and MOSe Menus.

Let's turn that telescope around. Let's take a look at some of Internet Explorer for Windows' biggest CSS deficiencies, and how you can use MOSe techniques or just plain old hacks to get around these problems.

Lack of Scalability

IE is the only modern browser on the market that doesn't allow you to resize pixel-value text. The problem of course, is that we've long known that the px unit is the best way of ensuring cross-browser and cross-platform consistency.

So we have a choice: either don't specify a font size at all and wait for the flood of emails from the 95% of the population that doesn't even know they can change that, or break text scaling in Win/IE.

That is, we HAD a choice. Owen Briggs has since done a lot of work, and came to a pretty useful conclusion about font sizing:

I found you can make a nice ems stylesheet with <p> text at 1.0 em, and then downsize the whole thing by selecting size in <body> with %, like 76%. It's simple, easy to change, and works for everything. Score 1 for late nights and coffee. Enjoy.

I've been using this method for a while, and it's not quite as reliable as px, but it's close enough for my liking.

Lack of support for min-width and max-width

Again comparing to all other browsers on the market, IE is the only one that doesn't support the CSS2 properties min-width and max-width (which have been a standard since 1997, incidentally). These are incredibly useful for controlling larger areas of type, particularly when setting line length limits to aid in readability.

The trick to getting around min-width in IE is actually pretty easy. IE treats width as if it were min-width. By exploiting the fact that IE doesn't support child selectors either (more on this later) we can create a simple bit of code that doesn't allow a browser window to shrink below a certain size:

body {
 width: 700px;
html>body {
 width: auto;
 min-width: 700px;

Max-width is trickier, and involves a non-standard, proprietary extension. A clever fellow named Svend Tofte has written up the gory details, but consider yourself warned: using this will prevent your CSS file from validating.

The question begs: what about width? If IE treats it as if it were min-width, then how do we get the functionality of width? The answer hurts: we don't.

Lack of Alpha Channel support for PNG

One of the more-often lamented problems is that IE doesn't support the alpha channel of a transparent PNG. Fancy overlays and smooth transparency effects are only a pipe dream for, well, once more, all other browsers on the market. (Why would this be nice? Look!)

Luckily, as non-standard, proprietary hacks would have it, there is a solution. Our Swedish friends Erik and Emil tell us how to get PNG working in IE. Again: no validation for you if you choose to use it.

Lack of :hover Support

But :hover does work in IE, you say? On links, yeah, it has for quite some time. Even IE4 got that part right.

So what's the problem? Take a look at Eric Meyer's Pure CSS Menus in IE. The menu on the right has flyouts, but only in non-IE browsers. They're pure CSS menus, and rely on :hover applied to list items, not links. Take a look at the menus dropping down from this very site, top right. Running IE? No dice.

This is a bit of an esoteric problem at the moment, but it's becoming more and more central-focus as we're exploring more seriously the advanced CSS that allows these sorts of menus.

Once again, hacks to the rescue! This time it's Peter Nederlof bringing us the fix. In his whatever:hover article, Peter exploits the HTC file hack that got our PNGs working in the last example. Validate, non.

Lack of child and adjacent selectors

Last one for now. CSS2 introduced some powerful new selectors in 1997 that we've been able to use to cut down coding time, and exploit new and advanced CSS effects.

Well, that's only half true since IE doesn't keep up. In fact, because IE doesn't understand these selectors, we've actually been using them to hide CSS from it. It's been awfully handy, and out of this whole list, I'd prefer to see this problem addressed dead last. If we don't have a reliable way of hiding CSS from Internet Explorer, then the web stays stagnant until IE gets better.

IE isn't getting better. The web stays stagnant without these. I'm not really complaining about this point at the moment.

IE Bug Corner

We'd be in good shape if that were the end of it, but oh no, that's merely the tip of the iceberg. Bugs! I haven't even started to touch on the CSS bugs that IE induces. John and Holly over at Position is Everything have a great list of IE Bugs complete with workarounds in most cases, make sure to bookmark this one for later use.


This has been a brief overview of IE's more glaring problems, with current solutions. None of these are ideal, but in an ideal world we'd never have to work around deficiencies. I haven't touched on everything, I'm merely providing a starting point. Feel free to suggest more in the comments.

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Services Not Provided

February 24

A friendly note to all potential clients. I do not work with businesses promoting, selling, or developing services to help others sell the following fine products, as a matter of educated guesswork.

  • Human Growth Hormone
  • Enlargement/enhancement pills (all body parts)
  • Web-based pharmacies
  • Online mortgage re-financing
  • Instant degrees from 'prestigious, non-accredited universities'
  • Massive "opt-in" e-mail lists

You get the idea. Just thought you might like to know ahead of time.

(Although I'm considering all reasonable offers from Nigerian businessmen.)

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Understanding Design

February 23

It appears that Microsoft promoter extraordinnaire Robert Scoble has sparked a debate about the value of design.

Robert's claim that readability comes before 'prettiness' may be valid in some cases, but let's not waste our breaths. Throwing arguments in favour of design at one with an engineer mindset is as effective as stapling Jello to the wall; it just won't stick.

Something that we all need to keep in mind: when it comes to design, everyone's a critic. Sure, they're all allowed opinions, but here's a little secret just between us: they're not always (or even seldom) right. You're allowed to walk away from the argument without bringing them around to your way of thinking, because those who take the time to argue will rarely be swayed anyway.

Yes, there are basic design principles that every designer needs to keep in mind; legibility and usability are two very important ones that sometimes receive less treatment than they deserve. But design is always about compromising and finding the best fit for the job. Legibility comes in varying degrees, as does usability. If there was a one-size-fits-all solution, why we'd all be out of work, wouldn't we?

In the end, the designer is the one being paid to make the judgement call. Why? Because the designer has studied the issues and knows what works better for a large percentage of the population. A small and vocal minority may kick up a dust storm, but if they haven't been involved in the decision making and don't have the benefit of the designer's knowledge, they can't possibly understand how their concern may not be as important as they think.

Now pay attention, because this part is important. A lot of people will attack or question design in general, because in their minds they have reduced it to a simple and subjective styling issue. They don't have any experience with typography, proportion, colour theory (and colour blindness for that matter), emotional response, form and function. Because design is simply a matter of decoration, they feel they have the same right as the designer to dictate the visual direction of any particular project, or lack of it as the case may be.

Many of our clients feel this way; some would fire us without a moment's notice if they figured out Photoshop. We're hired for our technical skills, not our creative vision. And many of us are content to let that mindset persist.

In fact, even in the general web community this goes on daily. A stream of "I like it because..." and "I don't like it because..." inevitably follows the launch of any redesign. Some ask for the critiques, others don't, but everyone gets them regardless. The response can be valuable to create overall impressions, but when work starts being tailored to quell any one particular commenter's dissatisfaction, there's clearly a problem.

Credibility is the issue here. You don't walk up to a civic engineer and scribble on his blueprints. You're more than welcome to voice your concern at a public forum, but it's up to the engineer to take your concern into consideration, as well as the concerns of everyone else, and figure out the best way to integrate them into an existing workflow, on top of an existing project, without impacting safety and accessibility concerns, while keeping the whole thing on budget. If another well-respected engineer speaks up, you can bet that issue is weighted far higher than the voice of a member of the general public.

Designers can be too quick to relinquish their control over a project to members of the public: the squeaky wheel gets greased, and the problem gets patched. None of this is to say the public isn't right; they often are, in a limited capacity. But without having the context of the overall project, they usually won't be led to understand why their particular concern will end up being too minor to address, or an inevitable trade-off to make something else work properly, or ignored completely because of the impact making a change would have on another part of the project.

You'll rarely see me allow comments on design work I post. You'll never hear me ask for an opinion. You can take it on faith I considered your point long, long ago, and had a good reason for making the choice I did.

Debate can be healthy, but sometimes it's just a waste of time. If you get paid for your decisions, you're better off standing confidently behind them instead of reversing them at a hint of opposition.

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...and Australia!

February 19

Well it seems like I've been asleep at the wheel. All sorts of print publications have been covering the Zen Garden, and I'm only now starting to hear about them.

Keep them coming as you spot 'em, this is great! None of these publications sent me notice they're running spots on the Garden, and since the magazine market can get rather regional, chances are I won't find them myself. A few more books are coming up that will also have some screenshots, though I've told the authors to contact the individual designers for permission too; you should know about those if you're going to be in them.

I have it on good word from Ian Lloyd (currently in the thick of his world tour [the lucky devil]) that the Australian-based PIXELmag featured the Zen Garden in a recent issue, I'm not quite sure what all they've said. I'll twist his arm for a scan once he's back to regular life.

thumbnail of scan

As I mentioned in a comment on the last post, it's also shown up in the UK-based LinuxFormat (on newsstands now, but hurry—yellow cover, page 62 I believe, just a short blurb) and the US-based Interaction.

Word came in last evening from Nick Cowie in Australia that another publication down under,, has printed some more screen shots and a write-up on web standards. The scan is here, which features the following five designs:

I'll try to keep up with the appearances elsewhere. I'm sure this will get old sooner or later, but I'm enjoying the novelty for now.

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We're Big in Japan

February 18

So the email I got two weeks ago, remember, the one where the girl says she wrote a book and wouldn't I like a copy oh the catch being that it's in Japanese? Oh, right, I didn't tell you about that one. This woman wrote to say... well, just that. You wouldn't have said no either.

The book showed up last night, direct from Tokyo. Happy coincidence that I'd come home with an assortment of maki and nigiri for dinner, but I digress.

book cover

"Stylesheet Stylebook" it's called, and the author, Arisaka Yoko, thought I'd be a good candidate for a free copy because, well, the Zen Garden coverage spans seven pages.

Those seven pages start by explaining (to the best of my ability sniffing some context out of a language I don't speak) what the Garden is and why it's important. Then there are six full-colour pages of screen shots, nine per page. Official and unofficial designs alike, there is a lot of work featured here.

scan of an inner page featuring zen garden designs

First notice I received saying this was going to happen was when Arisaka-san asked for an address to forward the book to earlier this month. Copyright headache times ten? Nah, this falls squarely in the realm of 'fair use' since they're being used informatively, as a demonstration of what CSS can accomplish. If you'll all remember, that was the whole goal of the Zen Garden in the first place, and besides: I think it's pretty neat that I could walk into a bookstore on the other side of the Pacific and find some of my work sitting on the shelf. I hope my fellow contributors will feel similar.

Here then is a list of the designs featured, for the benefit of the designers themselves. If you're in here your work is in the book. One more perk of submitting to the Zen Garden — free press!

Official Designs:
Unofficial Designs:

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Ups and Downs

February 16

Being in business for yourself is a quirky thing. Events happening in your field which are mostly positive lead to excitement for future possibilities. More negative occurances lead to reflection, and consideration of what can be done to avoid the same happenings in your own work.

The New Media Innovation Centre, or NewMIC, was a high-concept research lab here in Vancouver, not many blocks away from me. Opened in late 2001, NewMIC set out to change the way humans interact with technology, and provide local businesses with facilities to do their own research and testing. Government-funded and non-profit, NewMIC was hailed as a visionary leader for the province, and indeed the country. Dot-com hubris? Technological boom hype? Either way, they were stacked, and I mean stacked to the gills with the equipment and people to make it happen. I just got back from wandering through the maze of computers and office furniture being auctioned off tomorrow. Two short years later, the rose-coloured glasses have come off, and the funding dried up. NewMIC is no more. (Those hunting for bargains can head to 600-515 West Hastings, in Harbour Centre. Hurry though, viewing is today and the auction happens tomorrow.) SXSW Interactive 2004 runs from March 12th to 16th in Austin, TX. That's less than a month away, and I hear hotels are booking fast. From all accounts, SXSW is the conference to be at for those working on the web. I followed most write-ups from last year's event with great interest, wishing I would have gone. (Planning a wedding tends to keep one's time and funds tied up.) This year will be different. Reading through the speaker list is pretty incredible, and somehow I'm on there. On Monday, March 15th, Christopher Schmitt , Dan Cederholm , Douglas Bowman and I will be running a panel called " Hi-Fi Design with CSS ". Though I haven't yet met two of my fellow panelists, we've been conspiring for a while now to bring together our presentation. I'm equal parts excited and apprehensive about all of this. There are a lot of people I'll be meeting for the first time who, in one way or another, I've been looking up to as mentors and muses for some time now. This is nerve-racking for anyone. But I know what SXSW is all about, and I know the buzz for this year is surprisingly high (a sign of the rebounding economy, perhaps?), and I know that it's going to be a hell of a time for me and everyone else there. I expect to come away full of new perspectives, new ideas, and a whole lot of hope for the future. I doubt I'll be disappointed. ]]>

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In the Referrals

February 10

Working in an environment that relies on web-based communication is a double-edged sword. On one hand, you have world-wide connectivity allowing employees outside the country to connect with the rest still in-country. On the other, you have world-wide connectivity allowing the rest of the world access if you're not careful.

This was hammered home today when it became apparent that our internal weblogs, private resources not intended for public consumption, were showing up on Google. We'd taken care to hide them via the usual suspects: robots.txt disallowed indexing all along, and they've never not been password protected. So what gives?

A few quick Google queries elucidated: the URLs were being indexed, but content wasn't. And a bit of refining the search results confirmed why: referrals.

Every time a visitor hits a link, both the server they're leaving (the referrer) and the server they're jumping to (the destination) record the transaction. Both servers are aware of this transaction, and in almost every case it's stored somewhere.

Some people choose to make public the list of sites linking to them. Visit this Daring Fireball article and scroll to the bottom for a real-time example.

This is the crux of it: if you link to a resource, the mere fact that you've linked it (and that someone has followed that link, this part is essential) is a piece of data that you have no control over. The transaction needs two servers; if the destination server is out of your control, that piece of data exists outside of your influence. If the destination chooses to publicize this information, you have no way of stopping that from happening.

Naturally, there are ways of minimizing the impact this might have on your system. In this case, we're going to give a redirect script a shot. By creating a generic redirect.php in a public-facing directory, and parsing each and every single link in the protected directory to bounce through the redirect first, and then on to the destination, the referral will appear to come from that script. We can't mask that it's coming from the domain completely, but we can prevent the directory structure of our internal weblogs from being exposed. This is good enough in our case.

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Importance of Brand

February 9

As has been reported everywhere this morning, Mozilla has renamed Firebird. The new Firefox trademark is the result of a naming conflict with another open source project, and the process has been written up by those involved: Ben Goodger, Steven Garrity, and Jon Hicks.

firefox logo

As might be presumed from my earlier work with the Mozilla Foundation, I was privvy to the conversations that took place during the brainstorming. When it became apparent that Firefox was the candidate of choice, I noted my personal opinion. I didn't like it. It just didn't sound right. It's not a browser, it's a fighter jet or an 80's hair band. It's too easy to mistake the second syllable for a vulgarity when pronounced. It's abrupt, and the alliteration doesn't work. All the way up until this morning I still thought it was a poor choice.

But that was before I saw Jon Hicks' brilliant logo, and the new pinstripe theme for OS X, and realized that as a brand, Firefox is actually going to work. This is one example where the sum is much greater than the individual parts. Though Hicks' logo stands alone as an excellent piece of illustration, the browser context is needed to give it meaning. Though the pinstripe theme is great, it needs the logo to give it character. Though the browser is top-notch, it needs the branding to give it a public face that so far it has been lacking.

Safari now has some real competition and thanks to the new installer, using Internet Explorer on Windows is no longer a justifiable decision. Hats off, way off, to all involved in this effort. I can't wait for the servers to unclog so I can grab my copy.

Ray Henry has noticed that Firefox has stopped rendering the :hover state of everyone's favourite accessible CSS tabs. By paging through FastCompany's tabs, I've found that if you leave the mouse over a menu item on page load, it may load in the :hover state but then stick like that, without allowing actual hovering. This is in both OS X and Windows 2000, by the way. Anyone know why this is? Comments are open.

And further on Firefox growing pains, Dunstan Orchard has noted a problem with Firebird extensions spawning XBL errors. He's got an easy fix, so if any of this sounds familiar, it's worth a quick look.

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Spot the Error

February 6

Cleaned up eh?

(hint: line 28)

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CSS Validation

February 5

As reported elsewhere this morning, if you use the Tantek hack in combination with the screen media type, your CSS doesn't validate. Long story short, it's because the validator is mis-reporting. It should validate, but it doesn't.

Well, at least, if you use the standard referrer method:

This way depends on an XHTML document parse tree, which means in plain English that it goes through your markup and makes sure you've set things up properly. If you take away this step, the validator doesn't know it's supposed to have a screen media type. So if you try validating just the CSS minus a containing document:

Then you end up side-stepping the issue, and your CSS gets the thumbs-up. So I've done just this in the footer way down yonder to stem the tide of e-mail complaining about my so-called 'invalid CSS'. A hack? Maybe. Kinda. Not really. I'm still validating my CSS, only without the surrounding context. I should be providing that context, but the validator should tell me it's valid. I'm just trying to make it all gel, baby.

update: Ethan's exploring font-family instead of voice-family, and attempting to answer a question I've long wondered. Why voice?

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Dailies Update

February 3

Way way way overdue, the Dailies sidebar on this site now has a full set of browsable archives, and for those who haven't discovered it yet, a corresponding RSS Feed.

Both have always been around, if you knew where to look. Which until now meant hitting the comment counter, then hacking the URL to get back to the /dailies/ root. But thanks to, you know, all number of excuses, they were never more than unstyled HTML. People were finding them, particularly comment spammers, so it was time to give 'em some attention.

Good: links that were temporal and mostly unavailable after they rolled off the current list are now there for the perusing.

Bad: You can see the precise moment in July when I switched the way I coded them. Entries older than July 24th aren't unordered lists, they're simply a dump of links. This isn't expected to be corrected any time soon.

Also Bad: The archive pages could be better. Instead of the links with title-bound commentary in a <ul>, I'd prefer to generate something like Doug Bowman's SeeAlso and drop the commentary on the page itself.

But I built the Dailies' custom Movable Type weblog before solutions like this and this came to light. Every entry is built with a bit of markup within the entry itself:

<ul title="february 2nd dailies">
 <li><a href="#" title="commentary">link text</a></li>
 <li><a href="#" title="commentary">link text</a></li>
 <li><a href="#" title="commentary">link text</a></li>

So generating custom data views isn't possible without some heavy-duty PHP, which in the end I may end up investigating.

My method is a bit of extra work, but it saves me from the tedium of "begin new post, enter proper data in each field, save post, wait for build" that one of the other solutions would require for each of the 5 to 10 links a day. It also allows comments on each day, rather than each item, which is arguably more sensible. Or so one could reason.

Perhaps sometime in the future I'll re-visit this, but for now, it works. Enjoy.

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Browser Support 2004

February 2's stats live again. Not to be used as a final word, but as good an indication as you'll find of the global climate, their stats are aggregated from a widely distributed hit counter script, and presumably sample a broad cross-section of the population.

There were some trends I was following before they went MIA in May of last year. (Note: disregard stats for June to December 2003, they finished off with May and misreport the rest of the months.) Observed: IE5 users are dropping, as they switch to IE6. NN4 is history. (MSIE1.x is reportedly being used by almost as many as NN4, but this is an anomaly). IE dominates, and while the browser eco-system is getting interesting again, the numbers are still heavily skewed in favour of Microsoft's dormant flagship.

Which all raises the question: which browsers should/shouldn't one spend the energy supporting now that we're in 2004? The answers will vary depending on a) a site's users, b) what you're trying to accomplish, c) budget and time contraints, and d) personal philosophy.

Browser users are split into two groups: those who run whatever comes with their OS, and those who seek out a new browser. The former dominate, and will continue to do so. The latter are generally well-informed and vocal, and will speak up when your work doesn't function in their browser. The former get stuck with older technology for far longer than you'd like. The latter generally stay on top of updates and new releases.

Should you support both groups? As best you can. Is it always possible? No. Should you use your best judgement? Always.

For what it's worth then, my own list, and the reasons why I do or don't cater to the browser in question. By catering, I mean testing with and making sure it renders the layout reasonably well.

Pre-Installed Browsers
Internet Explorer 6 (Win)
Yes. Don't question. Just do.
Internet Explorer 5/5.5 (Win)
Yes. Still used by 15 to 20% of the population. Dwindling, but still very relevant. Will re-evaluate in 2005.
Internet Explorer 4 (Win)
No. 0.x% of the population run it, on the same level as NN4. Not worth the time or headache. Same goes for any version prior.
Internet Explorer 5.2 (Mac)
Yes. The whole world isn't on OS X yet. Safari, Firebird, and Camino don't like OS 9. Though its rendering engine (Tasman) is aging, it's still remarkably good. It's really not that hard to support IE5/Mac. So I do.
Internet Explorer 4.5 (Mac)
No. IE5.2 is a low enough baseline.
Safari 1.0 (Mac)
Yes. The new default for Mac users. Thanks to a clever move by Apple, 1.1 isn't available to anyone who hasn't upgraded to the latest and greatest. 1.0 is the baseline, and will continue to be for some time.
Downloadable Browsers
Mozilla 1.x (All)
Yes. I generally use Firebird to do my testing, and assume the latest Mozilla suite will render similar or better. This isn't the best way to test, but it usually works. I'll fire up Mozilla 1.5 occasionally.
Konqueror (Linux)
No. I don't have a Linux install handy. Konqueror doesn't do that bad a job, all things considered. I find its font handling odd (due to inexperience) and it makes an absolute mess of this site, so it's not perfect. I'd support it if I had the spare box. So, the intention is there, the ability isn't.
Netscape 7 (All)
Yes. See Mozilla.
Netscape 6.0/6.1/6.2 (All)
No. If my code works in 7, it stands a chance of working in 6. I don't explicitly tailor anything to work in 6. It's assumed users of 6 will have upgraded by now.
Netscape 4.x
No. It's over. Same goes for any version prior.
Opera 7 (Win)
Yes. As best as possible. Opera is a relatively good browser, and I don't mind spending a bit of extra time to make sure 7 will render my code properly. Sometimes I can't figure it out after spending a large chunk of time on it, and throw my hands in the air (see this very site's drop-down menus as an example.) Other times I have better luck. Opera will keep getting better, thus, easier to support.
Opera 6 (Win)
No. It's assumed Opera 6 users will upgrade to 7.
OmniWeb 4.5 (Mac)
Yes. It uses the same WebCore rendering engine that Safari uses. Easy to support.
iCab 2.x (Mac)
Nope, sorry. Its CSS support is still too young.
Amaya (all)
No. Keep dreaming.
Lynx (all)
Yes. I don't explicitly test in Lynx, but when I become aware of problems I generally try and fix them. This site should be humming along in Lynx just fine.

Again, this is my list, and my reasons for or against. Your list and reasons may vary. If you're catering to institutes that have standardized on older technology, and still haven't re-evaluated by now, you may have to support NN4.x or another horribly ancient browser on that list.

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