Obtaining Detailed Information About Your Users’s Browsers

One of the difficulties in designing web pages for the Internet is your users may be using a number of different browsers. The fierce competition between Netscape and Microsoft has led to differing “standards.” Internet Explorer, for example, supports client-side VBScript and ActiveX controls. Netscape, however, supports JavaScript as the only client-side scripting language, and ActiveX controls can only be used with a plug-in. Similarly, both Internet Explorer and Netscape have their own protocol and extensions for Dynamic HTML and cascading style sheets.

While Internet Explorer and Netscape are by far the two most popular browsers on the market, there are many other browsing options available. If users may visit your site through the WebTV browser, AOL’s custom browser, lynx (a text-based Unix browser), Opera, or any other non-mainstream browser, it is important that you ensure that your site still looks pleasant and is easy to use. For example, if you had a set of web pages that utilized DHTML and a user visited your site using a browser that didn’t support DHTML (older versions of Internet Explorer and Netscape, lynx, etc.), you would want to redirect the user to a set of pages that accomplished the same tasks but refrained from using DHTML.

Using Microsoft’s Browser Capabilities Component

As mentioned in Chapter 7, Microsoft provides a free COM component to accomplish this task: the Browser Capabilities component. This ...

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