Archive of UserLand's first discussion group, started October 5, 1998.

Web browsers still don't work

Author:Dave Winer
Posted:3/27/1999; 9:01:32 AM
Topic:Build interfaces with xml: XUL (cnet article)
Msg #:4593 (In response to 4571)
Prev/Next:4592 / 4597

Web browsers are document readers. There have been so many attempts to make them into something else and they all fail, because the statement is true.

Chat clients had to be invented because web browsers make awful chat clients. Sure there's web-based email, but lots of people still use emailer programs. Why? Because the web-browser makes a shitty email client.

Now Netscape says XUL will open big avenues of innovation. Zzzz. This isn't even the first time Netscape has tried to bring the desktop into the browser, by my count it's the third time. It will fail. Instead you'll end up with web sites mucking with something that is already on the verge of collapse, the user interface of web browsers.

Netscape would do well to clean up its act before allowing websites to have their way with the only constant semi-sensible part of the web browsing experience, the "chrome". I can't give Netscape any specific advice here because I don't use their browser. Last time I tried the experience was a disaster. I had to reinstall lots of software including parts of the operating system. Before anything else, stop the innovation, and fix your product. From this user's point of view it's totally broken.

And Microsoft should fix the Back button in MSIE5. It goes dim at unpredictable times. I don't care about all the new widgets and I hate the fact that they pop up a panel into their search engine when I leave out the www. and .com to go to a site I didn't bookmark but visit frequently. Yeah I'm sure I can turn it off, but I curse Microsoft for shipping it turned on. It's so annoying!

I would like things to settle down now, stop trying to extend the reach of the browser and get to work on sharpening and fixing the interface of the browser as it exists today. Software engineering is what we want in web browser software, not great visions which are just loopbacks to things that have already been fully explored.

And make the