oldBrowsers posts

Supporting HTTP 0.9

I recently added support for HTTP 0.9 to my site. I have access to no browsers that use that protocol, and it’s highly unlikely that anybody is visiting sites with one. Why support it then? It’s not that hard (for me), and it fits with the progressive enhancement related concept that all browsers should be able to use the most basic functionality of a website that they are capable of.

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Line Mode Browser, or progressive enhancement all the way back

Progressive enhancement is a development strategy meant to provide older and / or less capable browsers with a working website while providing the more capable with a rich, full experience. It is often presented as a set of layers of support, with HTML at its base, then CSS added to that for styles, then JavaScript for advanced behavior. With this, it’s often posited that a well-crafted HTML experience can be used by any browser. However, for really old browsers from the early web, the new web provides many things that can make pages difficult to read, functionality unusable, or even entire sites inaccessible.

Today, I’m going to go back as far as I reasonably can in terms of browser support, to the second web browser ever made, and the first widely supported one, (Line Mode Browser)[https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Line_Mode_Browser]. I can’t look at the first, WorldWideWeb, because it was only made for NextStep and, as far as I can tell, isn’t accessible for me to test with. Line Mode is though. It was open-source by the w3c and kept available. I was able to get it with MacPorts with the ‘libwww’ package (run as www on the command line).

Line Mode was based on WorldWideWeb, and in fact was less featured, so it is likely to have any issues WorldWideWeb has and more. I will look at some issues that Line Mode has with modern web pages, and provide some solutions that will improve the abilities of even the oldest browsers to use a page.

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