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Support of HTML Extensions

Occasionally we are asked if TrainWeb supports the Microsoft Front Page Extensions. The answer is "yes" and "no". TrainWeb does not endorse the use of any HTML features that violate the current standards as promulgated by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C). HTML Extensions, whether implemented by Microsoft, Netscape, or some other web browser or web server company, are violations of the HTML standard.

It is important to understand that most HTML Extensions featured by Microsoft are not supported by web servers from vendors other than Microsoft and are not supported by web browsers other than Microsoft Internet Explorer. Thus, if you use the Microsoft Front Page Extensions, then the web pages that you design will not look the way you designed them to visitors using web browsers from Netscape and other vendors. By the same token, most HTML Extensions featured by Netscape are not supported by Microsoft Internet Explorer and pages that you design that include HTML extensions from Netscape will not look the way that you designed them to visitors who are not using the web browser from Netscape.

TrainWeb uses an Apache Web Server running under the Linux operating system. The Apache Web Server is by far the most common web server used on PC based systems. Unix and close derivatives such as Linux are the most common operating system used for web servers. The Apache Web Server does completely support the current HTML standard.

In order to support the full range of Microsoft Extensions, a website has to be hosted on a Windows NT Microsoft Web Server. If you use Microsoft Front Page to design your web pages and use Microsoft Extensions, you are likely to run into difficulties when hosting them on any web server other than one from Microsoft. If you call Microsoft to ask them for help with your difficulties, they will usually tell you that you need to move your web hosting to a Microsoft Web Server to solve your problems. This blatently reveals that the reason for violating the HTML industry standards with "extensions" is to force web designers to use software products from Microsoft! The goal is to get web designers to pressure their web service providers to purchase and operate web server software from Microsoft. If Microsoft were not violating the HTML industry standards, then web pages designed with Microsoft Front Page would work fine on any web server that supports the industry standards. Thus, we plan to continue to discourage all of the web sites hosted at TrainWeb from implementing features that violate the HTML standard.

We encourage all web designers to avoid MS Front Page Extensions, Netscape Extensions, and any other extensions that violate the current HTML standard. We strongly support the idea that all pages implemented by web designers should look to the web visitor the way the web designer intended, regardless of which web browser the web visitor is using and regardless of which web server software is used by the ISP. This is the whole purpose of having a standard! If the web pages that you design do not violate the HTML industry standards, then your web pages will work fine on the TrainWeb server!

I still cringe when I see the graphic on a web site that says "This site looks best when viewed with Internet Explorer" or "with Netscape". Basically the web designer of the site is announcing that he has used HTML features that violate the HTML standard and his web site might look lousy if you don't use the web browser prefered by the web designer. I tend to feel a bit hostile toward web sites that want to force their preferred web browser on me.

TrainWeb does not display a "Best Viewed With ..." graphic but instead has taken the Web Interoperability Pledge (WIP) and displays the following graphic:

WIP link

The Web Interoperability Pledge (WIP) is a promise to adhere to current HTML standards as promulgated by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C). I'd strongly recommend that you click here to find out what the pledge is all about before you start using HTML commands in your web pages that violate the standards that have been agreed upon by the web industry.

Both Microsoft and Netscape have added some features to their web browsers and servers that make it possible to design web pages that will not look or work properly with each other's web browsers nor with web browsers from other companies. These added features are what they call "HTML Extensions". "HTML Extensions" sounds nice, like you are getting more for your money, but a more accurate description would be "HTML Violations"!

An example might be like building a passenger rail car that has a 6 foot gauge. Such a gauge would allow passenger cars to be a lot more roomy and be able to hold a lot more passengers. You could claim that the 6 foot gauge rail car is "superior" to the "standard" gauge rail car. However, with almost no tracks in this nation with a 6 foot gauge, you would be very limited as to where you could use such a rail car! So, where an "extension" might at first seem like something above and beyond the standard, it can actually turn out to be a detriment when you end up with a final product that is incompatible with a significant amount of what is already in place.

Progress is wonderful, but it also helps when the designers of web browsers and servers come together to agree on a common standard for the new features. In that way, web designers like ourselves can continue to build web pages that we know will look the same to visitors regardless of the brand of server hosting our web pages and the brand of web browser being used by visitors to view our web pages.

We urge you to think twice before you endorse the efforts of any one vendor to attempt to dominate the process of setting new HTML standards. When a vendor implements new HTML features before they have become part of the industry standard, they are attempting to dictate their ideas to us and the rest of the web industry. We endorse the idea that all web pages should work the same on any brand of web server and with any brand of web browser that implements the latest HTML standard.

For your benefit and ours, we do want to stress one additional point: There are over 400 websites supported on our webserver by almost as many web designers. We've had reports from very few of these designers related to having problems designing pages to work on our server. There is one exception: Web designers using Microsoft Front Page to develope their websites. We've had numerous problems reported by designers using this tool. While almost all other web design tools produce HTML pages that can be simply uploaded and downloaded from the web server, Microsoft Front Page produces entire families of auxilliary files for ever web page designed. Entire sets of files have to be correctly uploaded into a tree of folders on the server in order for such sites to work properly. Any mistake in the uploading or downloading process can cause your website to malfunction and it can be a bear to find and correct these problems.

We do have some people that are expert in using Microsoft Front Page who do seem to use this tool to develope web pages for their websites hosted on our server without a problem. They seem to know what Front Page Extensions will work under the Apache Web Server and which won't. But, if you do not have such technical expertise yourself, I would strongly recommend using any web design tool other than Microsoft Front Page.

Additional IE Problems:
IE, Apache Clash on Web Standard
eWEEK Labs discovers that Microsoft's Internet Explorer 5.0 and higher and its IIS Web server have a significant security incompatibility--caused by how Microsoft has implemented digest access authentication--with other major Web browsers and with the Apache HTTP Web server.

  • Microsoft Patch Repairs 6 IE Flaws
  • Security Flaws Found in IE 6.0
  • Apache Avoids Most Security Woes
  • IE 6.0: Big in Name Only
  • IIS: Stay or Switch?
  • Fed Up With IIS

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