|Index DOT Html:
Main Index | Element Tree |
Element Index | HTML Support
Index DOT Css: Main Index | Property Index | CSS Support History | Browser History
The concept for this site came together during the course of many months at work when I needed to access the many different and sometimes hard to find references on the versions and extensions to HTML. I ended up with many references, both hard copy and electronic, with links to different sites that would help in my quest as well. Sometimes these references disagreed with each other, while some simply did not have accurate information. There were other times when I wanted a good tutorial on PROPER usage of an element or attribute created by a browser company, and the references were either very poor or non-existent. Thinking that I wasn't alone, I started compiling information on the elements and attributes of the HTML language. Even at that stage in the history of HTML, it took longer than I ever expected, to say the least. =)
Getting in Deeper Water: HTML Support History
As I neared the completion of this information gathering phase, I noticed a significant gap in one other area; people on USENET were constantly asking for some sort of comparison about which elements and attributes were supported by which browsers. No one seemed to have created a satisfactory response to this need. Around this time I had also come upon Stephen LeHunte's HTML Reference Library, which was an EXCELLENT reference in its day (it has not been updated in quite some time), and found something very close to what I and others had been seeking. I then planned on incorporating something like this to my own site, but I decided to expand the concept because of a still unaddressed need on this subject.
The problem: browser hit statistics for any site will show that a vast majority of users accessing pages are using browsers such as Internet Explorer or Netscape. What such logs also plainly show is that a significant number of users are not using or upgrading to the latest versions of these browsers. Browser capability and HTML support has evolved rapidly over the last few years, but authors are often quick to forget the more limited capabilities of an older browser version (such as those pre-dating tables, frames or CSS support.)
I looked around on the web and in books on the subject and could find NO exhaustive or organized history of HTML element/attribute support. The task of manually verifying all this on the scale I intended did not sound, nor was it, easy.
Intermediate Steps: Pre-release Versions Are Important Too
As I examined the issue, it became apparent that detailing support in final release versions wasn't going to be enough. Information for public, pre-release versions (alphas and betas, or whatever they are calling them now =) would also be of some interest in light of the time involved. Early browsers often had fairly brief product cycles, but as the software has become more complex, these cycles have become longer and longer. The NCSA Mosaic version 2.0 cycle lasted almost two years, while recent Internet Explorer and Netscape cycles have lasted as long as six months with up to a year between final releases of major versions.
Verifying support history has not been easy - I have had to locate dozens of incremental browser versions to manually verify much of the information here. Now I can see why approaching this problem in this manner has not been done before. =)
While We're At It: HTML History
In the process of doing this, it occurred to me that very little general documented history exists about both browsers AND the HTML specifications of old. Once a new version is released, the old stuff is generally forgotten or ignored. I realize that the time span I cover (about 8 years worth) is short, but already the details are disappearing into the mist. Even as recently as mid-1996, when I started compiling this information, many of the documents relating to early HTML history were inaccessible to my searching due to deletion, broken links, or incompatible document formats (this has thankfully been corrected. Yay!)
A "Small" Sub-topic-Expands: Index DOT Css
The Index DOT Css site started as an addition to the Index DOT Html site in 1996 when I was doing some research on an emerging standard used in Internet Explorer 3 called (interestingly enough) Cascading Style Sheets. The standard was just developing and it seemed appropriate to document it, given that CSS was paired so well with HTML.
The little resource I created was one of the first on the subject outside the W3C, but it had since fallen behind. Since the CSS portion of Index DOT Html was created, CSS2 was also introduced, and then recommended by the W3C, and all the major browsers now support the language to greater and lesser degrees. I had been meaning to expand and update that portion of the site for a while, but I knew the task would be daunting. So, after finally finishing many long-standing 'to-do' items on the site, I turned my attention to CSS again.
With several lengthy standards in use or under proposal and a growing history of implementation in the browsers, I decided that the subject deserved its own "site" that is semantically separate from Index DOT Html. HTML and CSS are very closely tied together and will remain so, but in the interest of reducing complexity for the reader, these topics needed to be separated a bit.
To Wrap Up
What this means is that now there is still only one person to create, update, and maintain TWO huge sites instead of "just" one. Wish me luck. =)
Hopefully, someone will get use out of this, the resource I was looking for before I set out to create these sites.